Despite the increasing use of standard packaged solutions and greater use of outsourcing, Australian organisations plan to increase their level of customised software development in the next two years.
According to a study of 100 local corporate and government organizations undertaken by Compuware, 75 percent of respondents plan to increase development activity.
The results are supported by a number of market drivers. There are the traditional reasons for customised development such as the need to extend legacy applications or create interfaces to boost integration.
But more recently new trends have emerged that have made customization more attractive than off-the-shelf solutions.
Rapid application development environments have speeded the development process and model- and pattern-based development has tied it much more closely to business needs.
Users realise custom development can deliver a unique solution with intellectual property and strategic advantage that belongs to the organization.
As the economic climate improves in 2004 the Compuware study found cost containment will be replaced with strategic development.
The report found a clear voice emerging between Java and Microsoft's .Net with some organizations even adopting both.
Compuware said adoption of these two standards are running neck and neck in Australian corporations.
However, the profile of organizations adopting .Net and Java is very different.
More than 80 percent of large development shops (those with more than 50 developers) are adopting Java compared to 35.3 percent adopting .Net.
"Clearly, major corporates have moved first to adopt Java and are only now considering .Net but it is not an exclusive decision as both standards can exist within a single enterprise serving different roles," the report said.
When probed about challenges in developing business apps, integration was rated as the number one headache followed by development skills.
Other issues were time pressures, Web strategy and inability to determine business requirements.
More than 50 percent rated speed of application development as a problem while a further 27 percent said it was critical.
Tight project timeframes, the need to support the business in rapidly changing markets, mergers and acquisitions activity and myriad other factors are putting the heat on development shops.
The study found modelling or pattern-based development provided competitive advantage although adoption is still in its early stages.
Overall adoption is stronger in large development shops.
In summary, the study dispelled a number of myths including the misconception that custom development is in decline.
The study found it is actually growing even in a market obsessed with reducing costs and that Java is well ahead of .Net in Australian organizations.