Empowering digital transformation from the inside out

By Johan den Haan
To compete in the 21st century economy, the success of digital transformation projects sort the winners from the losers. Companies are becoming more and...

To compete in the 21st century economy, the success of digital transformation projects sort the winners from the losers. Companies are becoming more and more confident in the benefits technology is bringing to their organisations and eager to harness the opportunities that the cloud, mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) are able to present.

However, with so many technology platform options available, it can be difficult to identify the right tools that will truly support the business from the inside out. The challenge is that business leaders often only focus on what’s above the surface of the digital transformation ‘iceberg’, while the major part of it remains untackled beneath the surface.

Silence between the different siloes of the organisation is a big problem for many, but the division is often greatest between IT and the wider business. According to Gartner, “In the waterfall world, a lack of business-IT collaboration leads to misunderstanding the difference between value and quality. Without knowing the "why," developers provide software that doesn't align to business strategy even when it exactly meets specified requirements.”

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Business leaders often have one vision, and the IT team another. With the two groups speaking different languages, mixed-messages between the two can lead to frustration, spiralling costs and ultimately half-realised, delayed projects - a digital transformation fail.

Enabling collaboration to derive results

Executing a digital transformation strategy means more than just buying new technology. Simply having access to digital solutions is no longer the source of competitive advantage. It is the way the business applies them that will transform its processes and drive results. The pace of today’s market requires businesses to work closely with the IT teams to roll-out innovative solutions quickly, without risking core business operations.

To achieve this, it is crucial that business leaders are able to look beneath the surface of the ‘iceberg’ and approach digital enterprise transformation holistically. This means removing the language barrier between the business and IT. Developing transformative applications at a speed requires strong organisational culture and close collaboration between everyone involved in the project. That’s because at its heart, digital innovation happens through the synergy of business ideas and technical possibilities – BizDevOps.

Creating an environment that brings people with vison for the business together with those with the technical aptitude is key to bringing ideas to life effectively and at scale. This approach is proven to significantly reduce time to value and lower development costs, while also offloading overburdened IT development organisations. 

Bridging ideas to technical possibility

High productivity low-code platforms serve as a bridge between the two worlds. The solution employs a visual, model-driven approach to enable a broader range of individuals to take part in the app design process, without creating risk or technical debt. It offers a faster, more intuitive alternative to coding by using visual models and drag-and-drop functions to build application’s data models, business logic and user interfaces.

Whether it’s a business leader bringing a new app idea to life or a developer integrating a new back-office system or service on top of current systems, low-code platforms allow a quick rapid delivery of enterprise applications with visual modeling which ellimates the complexity of traditional coding.

The flexibility of low-code means that a spectrum of developers can contribute to the digital transformation process by communicating their ideas in a visual and easy-to-understand way. What is more, it empowers a two-way feedback across the entire app journey, allowing continuous consultation with domain experts and professional developers.

Aiming to achieve digital business agility, the UK’s leading provider of elderly services, Saga used the benefits of the low-code platform Mendix to speed time to market for its private healthcare at home offering. Through the capabilities of the platform, Saga is able to collaborate with key stakeholders to ensure applications closely match the business requirements and help the company better capitalise on new opportunities.

Thinking inside-out

As businesses continue to adopt new technologies, and innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) reach new highs, the importance of business functionality and ability to adapt will become even greater. Digital is no longer an isolated part of the business — it is a main driver. It can provide limitless opportunities for some and disruption and displacement for others. Enabling collaboration between different clusters of the organisation is what will lead the business to the former.

By deploying a low-code platform that enables agile project management and visual modelling, businesses will be able to ignite the creativity and collaboration that will ensure greater software quality. Combining speed with ability to scale up and modify the applications as and when required can ensure objective alignment that fits the needs of the business and can be adjusted to the changing landscape. Ultimately, this shortens the path from idea to deployment, allowing the business to drive digital innovation from the inside out at pace and under control.

Johan den Haan, Chief Technology Officer at Mendix


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