Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Be a Hero with Zero Code - Build Enterprise Apps 10x, 20x Faster

K-Rise Zero-Code Cloud: Low-Code Application Development Platform
A Superhero of Zero Code in the Cloud - Forrester and Gartner have found that Low Code Application Platforms deliver enterprise applications 10x to 20x faster 

Meanwhile... in the Customer Service Center…

The phones are ringing and your team is busy helping customers. It's all good, right? But when you log into your CRM dashboard, you see that calls are up yet sales are down this month. It's February, and you're in danger of having a 'soft' 1st quarter. What's going on? What are you missing?

The next morning, you call the team in for a quick meeting to find out what's going on. You show the stats month over month, you ask the questions, and then step back as the wave of complaints flood the meeting room - not from your team, but from your customers through your team. Apparently your customers are tying up your phones because they are looking for important information/feature/function not found on your e-commerce site and the only way they can get help is to call your reps. 

But wait...

Wait, you ask, scratching your head, what's changed with the customers? Our customers didn't need this information/feature/function last year. Was there a change in the law, in the market, is the sky falling? Nope - it's the competition. They have a new site with new technology that completely shifts customer expectations by improving the customer experience. Your customers want it from you, too, or they're jumping ship. The market and customer expectations have changed on you, seemingly overnight!

If only it were this easy to find out what the customer really wants every time! In this scenario, you have an idea what can solve the problem. You need an app, a portal, some feature/function that's going to meet your customer's expectations and get you back on track for quota. So you give the head of IT a call to get the best developer they have on it, yesterday if possible.

Sorry - she's backlogged 6 months at the moment. OK, how about the 2nd best? Yeah, he might be able to fit it into his schedule early March. We're shorthanded, she explains. Not enough talent to go around. You're panicked a little, but say great, and explain what you need. You get a quick estimate, 3 months, because development for the integration to the ERP and other systems will take time. You add it up and realize you're not going to get what you need until June, and then you get to test the app with your test customers to see if they like it, and finally, if all goes perfectly, (and you just know it won't) you get to roll this app out to your customers by July 4th, if you have any customers left.

Enter the Hero of Zero Code

This is not a far-fetched scenario for business leaders. When development for single-purpose applications takes months, and projects for the re-platform of an existing sales channel or implementation of a new sales channel takes a year or more, hitting the market at the right time with the right products, on budget, and in the way that meets customer expectations, almost becomes like rolling the dice.

So, after you hang up the phone with IT, you hang your head and begin to accept your fate. Will there be layoffs before this is over? Then in comes Jane-on-the-spot, on the sales support team and one of your best analysts. What, she says, if I were able to prototype the app/portal/feature, fully integrated to the back-end system as needed, by the end of the day? And, she explains, you can start testing the app with customers tomorrow and roll it out by the end of the week if they approve.

You think it's impossible and almost laugh, but you say, sure. Show me what you got. By the end of the day, she sends you a link and login to a fully functioning prototype of the app you envisioned. You are overjoyed, but you wonder. How? How is this possible?

Welcome to the Age of Superhero Zero Coders

There's a new buzzword going around the market called Citizen Developers. These are business folks with little to no technical training empowered by low code or no code platforms to build customized applications. These Superhero Zero Coders are typically unassuming marketing or sales support people who are technically inclined and can figure out in a week or two, through online tutorials or old-fashion trial and error, how to use drag and drop visual modeling to build an application with little or no coding. 

Forrester analyst Clay Richardson defines low-code as fast application development and delivery platforms requiring  a minimum of coding, typically used to develop customer-facing "systems of engagement," like your e-commerce or m-commerce sales channel. Your local Superhero Zero Coder likely took it upon themselves to find a platform in the cloud that offers a free "citizen developer" license for just such an emergency as yours. If there is any coding required for these low code tool-sets, it comes when integrating the applications to back-end systems and other data sources, both internal and public.

A few low-code platforms get around the integration problem by providing a very extensive library of REST API's for nearly every system and data source imaginable. These REST API's can be easily dragged and dropped into the workflow - all charted out on a Visio-like canvas that is actually the live architecture map of the app. This makes integration seamless and possible within minutes. These are the platforms that come closest to true no code or zero code platforms.

Be Your Own Hero of Zero Code

By now, it should be apparent that the #1 reason to consider a low code platform is the speed it gives you,  10x, sometimes 20x faster, to meet customer demands and stay competitive in the market.

In the Forrester Vendor Landscape of Low-Code Application Platforms, they report how the US Government needed a new document compliance module for the Affordable Care Act. The original development estimate through traditional hard-code platforms came in at 100 months - that's over 8 years if you're trying to do the math! They instead found a low-code platform and delivered the module in 5 months. 

5 months!! Where is the disconnect between the 2 development methods? And why isn't everyone using a low-code platform! The graph below from the Forrester report gives a few more examples.

Here are a few more business reasons why you should become a hero of zero code and champion it throughout your company, in every department:

  • Reduce your IT spend by 60% to 70% - By reducing time to develop, IT costs can go down to more than half for the same project on a hard-coded platform

  • Uncover true customer expectations and real value quickly, and at a low cost -Customer needs are a moving target. You can validate customer requirements and test user adoption with prototypes built in hours, and move the market-tested application into production within days of first concept.

  • Avoid vendor lock - Use development talent your company can find and afford. No longer will you be dependent on a 3rd party to develop mission-critical, customer-facing applications on their proprietary Commerce platforms. Zero-code toolsets enable "citizen development," Business and IT can start DIY projects quickly and easily.

  • Success guaranteed - Zero Code has just delivered a deadly, crushing blow to change orders and stalled projects. Hard-coded, vendor-locked customer-engagement platforms, especially e-commerce platforms, are very expensive to change. These hard-coded platforms must get the requirements right the first time, or face expensive function add-ons, change orders, and stalled or failed projects. And a year later, when that Commerce system is finally delivered to you, the customer  expectations will have evolved. You wind up with a commerce system that is perfect for your business 18 months ago.

Zero-code platform makes it easy to prototype, test, and change-out customer-driven requirements on the fly and without change orders. Adding new features to a Zero-Code Digital Commerce site is measured in minutes and hours instead of weeks and months

There are at least a dozen more reasons to become a Hero of Zero Code and commission someone on your team to become a Superhero Zero Coder. All the reasons involve time and money. There is an old law in the IT Code book that until now was oppressive and unbreakable: "You can have anything you want, with enough time and money." The Superheroes of Zero Code have set us all free from that rule of law and have delivered back to us those most precious things - time and money.