Great Fortune Article: Business is Slowing Down

Business process management and agility

Regulations, Technology Overuse and Over-process Lead to Slow Downs

Great article from Fortune:

The Hard Evidence: Business is Slowing Down

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Mobile App Platforms: It’s All About the Real Estate

Mobile App Dev Features

4 Core Requirements in Your Rapid Mobile App Dev Platform

 

In working with several customer on mobile application initiatives, I am finding the most important concept is managing the “Real Estate” of the device screen.   How do you give users an efficient and seamless experience without having to scroll, and minimizing “taps to completion”?  Likewise, how do you manage the transition from one form factor to another?  Here are four core features every mobile platform must support to optimize UI usage and forms development:

1.  Responsive Themes –  Business Process App and Mobile Development Platforms must support mobile responsive design principles.  Many platforms provide “design once” functionality where you can build forms/UI that will automatically span any type of device through auto-adjustment.  One example is K2’s smartforms, digital forms technology that are HTML 5 and completely responsive.  This can be a massive time saver for IT staff and developers, and eliminate the need for building digital forms for every mobile platform (iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry).  K2 Mobile provides a great responsive foundation.  Details here:  K2 Mobile App Dev

mobile responsiveness
Responsive Adjustment of UI

2.   Collapsible Views/Sections – Usability in mobile applications becomes challenging, especially when you have long forms with data entry requirements.  Giving the user the ability to collapse UI sections, or even better, providing this dynamically can provide a more manageable experience.  Being able to do this without code can speed up app dev, and drive productivity in the field.

3.  Tabs – How do you display 3 screens in one?  Having built-in tab functionality can allow users to easily switch back and forth between screens, and provide a seamless way to manage limited space on a mobile phone/tablet.  Limiting long scrolls and the opening of forms can reduce time and limit the complexity of tasks.

4.  Form Automation – Just what is forms automation?  Once again we go back to the theme of “minimizing taps to completion.”  Having a “no-code” rules engine that helps to drive dynamic automation based on forms interaction is absolutely required.  Examples?  See below:

  •  A drop-down list that when selected, auto-populates other fields.
  •  The ability to drive data interaction between multiple Line of Business systems through a single form with no code.
  • Hiding elements of forms, or sections based on choices.

All of this facilitates rapid data collection, and enables field workers to complete their tasks efficiently.  Want more info on Mobile App Dev?  Take a peek at my previous post on Mobile Apps and Rapid Development.

 

The Evolution of Business Process: Paper to Platform

Business Process Evolution

What would Darwin say about business process?

Transforming a business and its processes is always a challenge, and like anything else over time, process management and the flow of work has evolved.  It’s a balance between cost and benefit, pain and efficiency.  And every business has a complete and total mix of how they get work done.  Paper is still ubiquitous in the business world, as are what I call “Franken-processes”, or those that are a combination of paper, Excel, email correspondence and anything else that might be at hand.  Many drive their critical processes with custom applications, and the lucky ones have fully evolved, and implemented app platforms to drive speed and flexibility.  In this post, I will provide an analysis of the 3 key process solutions:  Paper, Custom Apps and App Platform.

So, as a primer, every process can be evaluated on 4 key axes: Degree of Automation, Scalability, Flexibility and Speed to Implement.  Below is a quick overview of the evolution of business process.

 

Paper-based

Paperless process with workflow and forms
Paper is fast to implement, but inefficient  (Image from K2 Whitepaper “It’s a BYOA World”)

 

Paper processes have been part of business process forever, and it is still a pervasive medium for transactions and the flow of work.  Paper forms and documents flow through businesses every day, exchanging hands, passing through in boxes and out boxes, being copied, placed in folders, and ultimately ending up in a file cabinet as a permanent record.  To evaluate paper on our 4 axes, it is quite fast to implement, and can be somewhat flexible.  Just create a form in Word or Excel, kill some trees through the printing/copying process and distribute.   But we all know that processing paper is painful, and about as far from automated as you can get.   Many organizations attempt to add automation to the mix through scanning and capture, but layering of processes just creates complexity, and decreases the ability to scale.  See the chart above for a visual representation of paper process, the lowest on the evolutionary chain.

Custom Applications

Replace custom apps with no code platforms
Custom apps great for automation, but slow to implement. (Image from K2 Whitepaper “It’s a BYOA World”)

For many organizations, the only option, or next step in the evolution of process is the custom-built application, focused on automating a core set of processes critical to the business.  Custom apps can be a powerful technical transformation tool, and although the benefits can be huge, there are some key draw backs.  Using our axes, you can see the prime benefit is automation (as shown above).  But due to the long cycle times for development and updates, plus the requirement to grow and expand features overtime,  custom apps can be a core constrictor on flexibility and adaptability.  In this day and age, custom apps and all their draw backs are becoming and unacceptable way to automate business and drive process, and are just far too costly.

“Traditional mobile-app development typically costs at least $250K and takes more than 6 months for a single app”

Kevin Benedict, Mind the Gap

Business Apps Platform

No code for data, forms, workflow and reports.
No code platforms are the best of all worlds (Image from K2 Whitepaper “It’s a BYOA World”)

Evolution in and of itself, is a process of growth, formation and change based on environmental factors, and the current apex in business process technology is the Business Process Application (BPA) platform.  Built for speed, automation and flexibility, the BPA platform provides a broad reach on all the axes of evaluation (as shown above), and allows agility through a no/low code foundation.

“In the age of the customer, everything runs as quickly as customers and markets – and software delivery must keep up.”
Forrester

With IT departments struggling with the demands of the business for applications, the market and customer requirements have driven the evolution of BPAs.   With delivery time being reduced by a factor of 3-10x, and beneficial cost reduction, forward-looking CIOs are quickly adapting the platform-based approach to transform the way they automate and deliver applications, workflows, forms and reports.   Below are some great links to more information:

Forrester Report on Low/No Code Platforms

Business Process Apps – No Low Code Webinar

 

 

Forrester Report Analysis: New Dev Platforms for Customer Facing Apps

Forrester Apps Report

Are no/low-code platforms the answer?

“In the age of the customer, everything runs as quickly as customers and markets – and software delivery must keep up.” 

Forrester

A recent Forrester report, “New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications,” discusses how many companies are choosing low-code platforms over traditional hand-coded development platforms due to the speed with which low-code applications can be assembled, deployed and tested. With customer-facing applications at the top of IT priority lists, traditional programming platforms simply cannot keep up with the “short schedules and rapid change cycles” such applications require. The report goes on to discuss the challenges that application and development (AD&D) leaders face when formulating strategies for customer-facing applications, and advantages that low-code platforms provide, including the ability to lower barriers between requirements and delivery, and provide business leaders with a way to test and experiment with new ideas at a low risk and cost.

Want to read it all?  You can download the entire report and whitepaper here:

Forrester Report: New Development Platforms Emerge

Low-code Application Solutions for High-Turn Delivery