How millennials are changing the face of application development

Almost 80 million strong in the US, millennials are digital natives who grew up with the Internet and are hyper-connected at home and at work. Many are also hands-on technophiles who are poised to change the face of business application development.

Millennials typically approach applications in a way that is distinct from that of prior generations. Rather than working around an application’s limitations, millennials are more likely to explore how they can customise it to meet their needs.

This tendency extends to programmers and non-programmers alike, thanks to the increasing availability of no-code development solutions and popular cloud-based productivity applications.

>See also: Competitive, impatient and narcissistic: Is your workplace ready for Generation Z?

Unwilling to wait for overstretched IT departments to tackle their projects, next-generation employees are typically less patient than predecessors and more likely to take on business solution development tasks on their own.

Their initiative is admirable, but this tendency to take development into their own hands can cause headaches for IT teams.

For example, in many corporate environments today, employees are working with homemade apps to track vital business functions. HR staff use unencrypted Excel files to track expenses. Customer service reps are tracking trouble tickets on spreadsheets. Sales professionals are compiling client data on spreadsheets and sharing files with peers via unencrypted emails.  

This approach poses several problems. First, it can expose the company to significant liability since private information is being stored and shared using tools that don’t meet corporate security standards.

And second, since they tend to operate outside corporate ERP or CRM solutions, homemade apps can quickly become data silos, and people who are using the central system to access data are not getting the most up-to-date information.

Tech savvy employees – millennials or those of any other generation – will use whatever tools they can to plug gaps in core business processes.

Business leaders and IT managers who recognise this tendency can capitalise on it by empowering employees with the tools they need to develop custom solutions – and avoid situations where employees create and use tools that don’t meet security requirements or integrate with legacy applications.

To accomplish this, IT managers first need to recognise that enabling ad hoc user development does not have to undermine IT’s control of corporate data security, and it does not automatically mean the company will realise a lower return on the significant investments made in on-premise ERP and CRM systems.

In fact, with the right strategy, the company can gain greater security and generate more ROI from legacy systems by enabling employee application development.

An effective do-it-yourself application development policy requires a no-code solution that is easy-to-use, secure and capable of integration. Until very recently, there wasn’t anything that fit the bill on the market, but today, there are proven solutions that connect manufacturing facilities, integrate data from user-built applications with ERP and CRM applications, and ensure secure, encrypted data sharing and access.  

>See also: UK Millennials less wary of sharing data with brands than European counterparts

At the advent of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, some IT leaders tried to put the genie back in the bottle by banning the use of personal devices for job-related functions. Today, most acknowledge that BYOD is here to stay, and, to control security, they support BYOD and set stringent policies to govern it rather than trying to keep it from happening.

Something similar is at work on the employee application development front; like BYOD, it’s already happening. And as in the BYOD scenario, businesses that harness employee initiative stand to gain in the long run if they can control the risks.

With the right application development solution – one that reduces security risks, eliminates silos and maximises on-premise legacy system investments – employee-led app development can be a competitive advantage and a leg-up in the race to move business processes to the cloud.


Sourced from Keyedin

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...