Becoming more digitally agile and gaining useful access to data are priorities for all organisations, but the issue until now has been how. Creating ‘minimum viable products’ is the key to speedy transformation, allowing any business to get a new digital service or application up and working within three months and for under £50,000 – something they can test, tweak and build on once everyone can see its potential. Michael Reiserer, co-founder of ApiOmat, now part of EASY Software, explains.
If you’re a Finance or HR manager, digital transformation up to now will have been largely about swapping paper records for electronic equivalents – those that authorised teams can access and process from wherever they are. This makes everything much slicker, more reliable and traceable.
But transformation shouldn’t stop there. Once electronic information sources have become the default, business teams can start to be smarter in what they do with all of this data – using it to chart trends, spot anomalies and identify scope for business performance improvements.
The challenge with these broader aims is how to unlock data held across existing business systems so that it becomes part of this transformed digital content asset base. If the business has moved to electronic invoice, purchase-to-pay, or payroll processing, that’s a fantastic step forwards. But driving next waves of innovation demands that businesses can create that elusive ‘big picture’ needed to add new value for users and for the business – for example by creating a self-service portal for suppliers to monitor their own accounts, or adding a chatbot facility to customer services.
Why fail for £2 million, when £50,000 could get users up and running?
Traditional IT development cycles are too long and costly as a means to roll out these kinds of apps. It’s why ‘agile development’ and ‘DevOps’ movements have risen to the top of the agenda in recent years – with an emphasis on short ‘sprints’ of collaborative development in partnership with business users, as a means of quickly ruling out what doesn’t work and arriving at something that does the job well.
Within this picture, ‘low code’ development platforms have emerged as a powerful enabler – a set of open technologies, infrastructure and methodology that allow app design teams to get a minimum viable product up and running at high speed, low cost and low risk. Something that they can put into users hands for them to run with, test and provide feedback on.
We believe it should be possible to get something workable into users’ hands within a maximum of three months – for a spend of no more than £50,000. Anything beyond that and the venture becomes more risky, not least because technology is advancing at a faster pace than businesses can keep up with. If an application doesn’t do what it’s supposed to for £50,000, it won’t perform any better for £2 million. So, far better to push something out sooner rather than later.
Launch new digital channels in months
We’ve helped an investment company unlock more than 20 processes that were PC reliant, giving uses secure, real-time mobile access to data that was previously confined to their SAP system.
Using our platform, a German bank quickly and affordably created a portal solution for B2B customer self-service, starting small and then scaling up to much larger use cases.
And car giant Volkswagen has used ApiOmat to build an entire digital car dealership system, from custom configuration and ordering to financing and delivery, in just 10 months – which, for something of that magnitude, is lightning speed.
ApiOmat is the platform behind EASY Software, too, making its core digital content management services available in the cloud, to maximise process transformation potential for its customers.
Whether the goal is to create new customer contact channels using chatbots, or let suppliers look up their own account histories, the low-code path makes it possible to bring data to life at speed. It paves the way for new and better experiences for users, customers and business partners, optimising relationships and driving more profitable revenue – whether by improving the availability of goods, or commanding better prices from suppliers.
As organisations review their options, the starting point for transformation might simply be, “What else can we do with the information we have?”. Making it happen is now the easy part.