The power of not waiting for IT to build an app

Not too long ago, enterprise development could quickly turn into a dark and stormy place. IT would have to wrestle with a kraken of legacy systems, in an attempt at meeting their customers’ (i.e. business users’) demands.

The energy spent trying to update these outdated, on-premise systems often meant there was little time to focus on customer needs.

Customers would have to bend and twist in an effort to adapt to the apps rather than the apps adapting to them, resulting in frustration.

Updates to these enterprise apps would take months and if you dared to ask for new apps, well, you’d be lucky if it made it out of the backlog of requests.

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The more savvy users would learn basic programming and use scripting languages, essentially ‘hacking’ Excel into an app as a stop-gap solution.

These cobbled together apps from ‘non-developers’ would go on to underpin a number of business processes, under the radar of IT, which would then struggle to ensure that these apps were safe – let alone compliant with any regulation.

Through the emergence of cloud platforms, opportunities to scale, customise and ramp up speed are fuelling IT.

The IT department that was once too busy keeping everything above water is now the centre of maximizing business agility. And, over time, as IT has freed itself from the shackles of dealing with legacy systems, end users have begun to see IT as an ally.

Apps are no longer monolithic but now can be easily acquired and customised to the needs of the workforce. Trusted app marketplaces enable enterprise to deploy trusted apps at will. Users are now able to build their own apps, dragging and dropping functionality when needed.

UK-based app development company Beaufort12 is a great example. It has enabled users to manipulate its Salesforce app using Lightning Process builder to match business processes.

This allows users to automate things themselves that would have otherwise had to have been done manually or by Beaufort12 developers. By exposing key pieces of functionality to Lightning Process Builder, Beaufort12 has empowered customers to essentially build and extend their application.

As app development moves from complex code to ‘click and drag’ processes, learning how to build apps has never been more accessible to those without a computer science degree.

Futureversity is a non-profit built on the belief that all young people have the potential to be extraordinary. It is launching a programme of volunteer-led free courses in Greenwich this summer for teenagers, giving 11-25 year olds new education opportunities and something productive to do over the summer holidays.

To get the word out about the opportunity, Futureversity enlisted teenage ambassadors to reach out directly to those who would benefit from this opportunity.

As more and more business users are empowered to build apps, IT are afforded the opportunity to bring the next generation of technology into play. For example, artificial intelligence is spreading into enterprise, enabling more intelligent and agile decision-making.

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Where user experience and interface design were often an afterthought, IT can now use design frameworks like the Lightning Design System to build modern apps with a consistent look and feel that customers love.

Conversational UI and speech recognition are enabling a more inclusive work environment to those with physical disabilities.

Pioneers in this field such as Wayfindr, an organisation with the mission to empower vision impaired people to navigate around the world independently, are developing an open standard for audio navigation which has been adopted by the London Underground – and soon enterprise IT can utilise it as well.


Sourced from Will Coleman, ‎director of developer relations, EMEA, Salesforce

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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...