Future-proofing business apps: Think beyond the code

Four suggestions for future-proofing business apps

Australian businesses are realising that modern application development encompasses much more than writing code; business apps of the future must be designed to address the app's full lifecycle.

A recent study by Gartner has found that modernisation and digital transformation projects are driving growth in the enterprise application software market, with worldwide spending in this area estimated to increase to more than $201 billion by 2019.

The heart of this transformation is often an elegant, forward-thinking app that reflects an enterprise's holistic approach to development.

Here are four ways enterprises can approach application development to match the pace of constantly shifting demographics and technology paradigms.

1 Lifecycle from the Start

The tendency is to consider the app as the finished product, working tirelessly to get it functional and live. The reality is that an application's entire lifecycle must be considered at the beginning of the process. This effectively drives developers to think beyond just new app development and instead approach the build more holistically.

Like businesses, after an app has been launched, developers already need to be thinking ahead to when they'll next update its UI/UX -- which might be sooner than you think. Take note of the app's analytics and performance, and always look ahead to identify opportunities to innovate and to remain relevant and competitive in the market.

2 Audience at the heart

The app’s audience will tell you when it’s time for an update. If someone has a poor experience using a company's mobile app, he or she is less likely to use that company's products and services.

A business app needs to represent the enterprise to a "t." With the increasing adoption of smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, business applications need to function as well as the company's website when accessed and provide a seamless user experience across devices.

Consumer familiarity with great -- and not so great -- apps has established their expectations for business software performance and functionality.

3 Focus on User Experience (UX)

Modern UX is reliant on a variety of interrelated factors, including the app's ability to integrate with existing systems, provide secure access and evolve over time as UI/UX technologies do. With an increasingly discerning customer base, these considerations must be front of mind for the beginning.

Businesses should exhibit responsiveness to user feedback and seriously take their suggestions for improvement into consideration; if someone isn't satisfied with an app's performance, it's easy for them to delete it and never use it again.

Listen to the people who are taking the time to share their opinions on the app. By doing so, businesses will be better in tune with their audiences, thus improving user satisfaction and evolving their own ability to innovate.

4 Make the most of analytics

Analytics are the glue that binds the above points together. Business app analytics are sufficiently sophisticated to give developers an insight into the app at all stages of growth and development. The insights provided by embedded analytics are invaluable, allowing enterprises to examine the data and consider possible avenues in the context of their tasks. In addition to addressing metrics and measurements, these analytics increase digital business intelligence and help inform effective decisions.

Future-proofing business apps

There is no end point for app development, it exists on a continuum of constant monitoring, management and updates. Although this may appear to be too much work, it needn’t be. When apps are built well, developers won't have to rewrite a great amount of code following their launches; the framework should equip them with the agility to address any stage in the app's lifecycle.

Craig Law is managing director ANZ at Progress

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