Demand for software and IT solutions increases
Today, IT and software are the backbone of nearly every enterprise in every industry in all industrialised countries. Nearly all companies are nowadays at least connected to the internet, communicate via email or video conferences, have databases full of customer data, use programmes to analyse their revenue and maybe even use tools to forecast demand and supply. These simple IT fundamentals apply to big IT corporates, healthcare and finance companies as well as small independent businesses like hotels, pharmacies or bakeries. No matter what the product or service is, in 2020 every company can be considered a tech company in one way or another. But the influence of software does not stop here. Thousands of apps are being developed every day in every corner of the world in order to simplify processes, establish better customer relations or create new revenue streams. According to Forrester research, 500 million new apps will be built in the next 5 years. If it moves along in step with the demands of the business, the IT department has the potential to become a real innovation driver in most businesses.
In an era when COVID-19 is disrupting everything, unplanned change seems particularly unwelcome. In fact, the pandemic crisis and the impact of lockdown have been a massive shock to the global economy and to our daily lives. While a “new normal” is developing, the continuation of disruption seems a certainty for some time to come. Ingenuity and adaptability will be the critical factors that decide the fate of organisations. Change is happening to every kind of organisation at unprecedented speed. Suddenly, business leaders realise that they cannot put off their plans for digital transformation much longer and have to start implementing them immediately.
The IT Talent War
One of the biggest challenges companies face when implementing digital transformation is the lack of IT specialists. Digital initiatives require specific technical skills mastered by a range of IT experts. Typical roles, currently most wanted in 2020 and highlighted by CIO are:
Business Intelligence Analyst
Help Desk and Desktop Support Professional
Network or Cloud Administrator
Security Professional (data, information, network, systems, cloud)
The interim report “Digital Organisational Frameworks and IT Professionalism”, published in January 2018 by the European Commission together with Capgemini mentions two possible scenarios for the number of missing IT specialists in 2020. In a moderate scenario, 525,000 IT workers would be missing. The high scenario speaks of 749,000 IT workers missing in Europe.
Leaders of digitisation and those who are lagging are both affected by the skills shortages and talent gaps that hinder the rapid adoption of the modern IT architectures needed for agility. Since the lack of IT experts is already massive, the choices for enterprises are to invest heavily in training, recruit necessary skills, or plug gaps with outsourcing. Unfortunately, with developers costing as much as $170 an hour, these options are expensive, time-consuming, or both.
At the same time there’s an explosion in demand for new web, mobile, and enterprise apps. In fact, Gartner estimates that market demand for mobile app development has been growing at least five times faster than internal IT organisations’ capacity to deliver them.
The problem is that an application delivery time of between 3-6 months seems like a lifetime in the COVID-19 era. Every IT organisation needs to take a hard look at how to reduce development time and costs to address how rapidly things are changing and how urgent key problems have become.
How can companies still drive digitisation?
The increase in demand and lack of resources has a huge impact on business objectives and strategies. Digital transformation enables you to seize a competitive advantage or fight back in the face of disruption. Without experimentation, nothing truly innovative gets off the ground. In that sense, more organisations are realising the business value of low-code development platforms. Now, you might be thinking, “But how can low-code help me with my digital transformation agenda?” A significant part of the answer is speed. You can develop and deliver applications up to ten times faster.
Along with how they provide solutions to common development problems like technical debt and process inefficiencies, low-code offers the technical agility that companies need to innovate new applications and mission-critical systems (or adapt legacy technology) faster and more securely, using existing talent and resources. Increased speed of delivery for new services enhances the experience of both customers and employees, as well as the enterprise bottom line.
Speed to market and speed of change are key competitive differentiators in a digital economy. Where application updates used to happen about once a year, many organisations now want at least some of their applications updated monthly, weekly, or even faster.
As a consequence, the emphasis is on continuous delivery in the modernisation of software development practices to include agile methods, DevOps, and automation. They are falling short, however, for two main reasons. First, achieving continuous integration and continuous delivery is hard work, and it requires significant investments in technology and personnel. Second, however hard you try, fast is not fast enough. Research from Gartner has indicated that even in businesses that provide monthly releases, 75 percent of respondents say IT is too slow. The bottom line is that trying to future-proof the applications you need to build is no walk in the park. Neither is finding the resources who understand the ever-changing array of technology today’s IT teams are using.
Low-code bolsters the reliability, scalability and security of apps and systems significantly. It can also promote sound architecture, best practices and good technical governance. This evolution has led more organisations to consider the potential for low-code to revolutionise mission-critical systems and create seamless integrations.
Low-code can also help organisations address the tech workforce challenge. It can empower skilled developers to work more efficiently, so they can focus their specialised expertise on more complex, less mundane aspects of programming. This strategy allows experienced developers to complete more projects faster. Meanwhile, low-code helps newer developers achieve productivity faster, and it can yield consistently better outcomes from outsourced development.
Speed is the name of the game
Fortunately, most companies are aware of the challenge posed by the lack of digitisation and recognise digital transformation as a major business priority. Organisations that focus on customer needs and offer developers an easy and fast path to innovation will be able to address the pains of change. A small percentage are already there, and they continue striving to get faster and better. Others have work to do, but there are ways forward for them. Whether you’re a leader in digital transformation or a laggard, you have options not just to get in the game, but to win it.
Published by by Kelsey Hunter
September 14, 2020