Continuous technological innovation is disrupting every industry; opening up new services, revenue streams, customer experiences and opportunities for market expansion. But for many organisations, business processes and applications are lagging behind the pace of change. This slows them down while opening up the potential for competitors to forge ahead and make the most of the new opportunities digital technologies can offer. Now, more than ever, applications can help companies address the velocity of technology change, creating more agile, software driven businesses. But they require a new approach.
Applications can be anything from internal process driven solutions for remote working or customer facing platforms through which to engage in more meaningful ways. They are fundamental to business strategy as a key driver of differentiation and innovation. As a result applications need to be built, managed and maintained in the most effective and efficient manner in order to keep up or ahead of the pace of change. This not only requires a robust approach but also the skills within the organisation to succeed. In such a competitive digitally-driven environment companies need a new approach to the business of applications if they are to sustain a long-term competitive advantage.
There are three powerful strategies that can help companies to accelerate applications to the pace of business: Liquid, Intelligent, Connected.
Assembled in an agile way using a modular framework, rather than built as part of a multi-year project, these applications have the ability to create a holistic platform which enable a business to run a variety of its services whenever they are needed. For example, a home services provider may use an application created by another sector entirely to process payments, another to book appointments, another to monitor the use of their vehicles and so forth. By combining this information, the business can improve its performance, drive efficiencies, and use pre-built modules to innovate at speed.
These have been made possible by the ever increasing processing power of computers, combined with the mass of data provided by consumers. These applications are built using this data and use machine learning to improve the information they in-turn provide. Intelligent applications have three critical capabilities – intelligent automation, integrated analytics and self-governance. The most obvious examples are movie recommendation services, which improve with the more movies you watch. Another example is credit card fraud detection where the software must constantly adapt. In order to prevent fraud, major credit card companies use machine learning models that predict the transactions a person will make, based on their previous spending patterns. This helps flagging of atypical spending activity and allows alerts to be sent to the customers. Furthermore, these systems are given real examples of fraudulent and legitimate transactions so that the models can evolve as fraud techniques change. These approaches and technology can be utilised in almost every industry which harvests enough data to analyse and learn from.
The focus here is on the technical means to interface with business partner and customer ecosystems, developing borderless businesses. For example, a holiday resort may offer a wearable band which you can customise to select your favourite holiday activities before you’ve even left for the airport. The same band then can be used for all activities during your holiday – checking in, park tickets, food purchases and even as your room key. This type of application now allows businesses to move far beyond their traditional operating models, and offer consumers additional benefits which provide an important competitive advantage.
The design, build, deployment and management of software and applications will only realise its full potential if the technology is used in the correct way. Investment in solutions is on par with ensuring any organisation has the skillsets required.
The war for talent has been around far longer than many of the technologies discussed here, but the increasing pace of change has meant the demand for both technically skilled people and agile thinkers has never been greater. Employees are at the centre of driving business success. Whether re-skilling, up-skilling or hiring new talent any gaps need to be identified early, before defining an applications strategy.
As the pace of change of technological development continues and the demand for an exceptional user experience and the need to attract the best talent builds, organisations across every industry are facing an increasingly competitive market. Positioning applications software and as the backbone of the organisation and ensuring the right people and skills are in place to drive and keep alive a competitive applications strategy is of paramount importance in order to keep pace with technology and business today.
By Shalini Chaudhari
Shalini leads Testing Services growth for Europe Africa and Latin America at Accenture. She is based in London and is part of Accenture Technology and Application Services leadership.
She has been a leader in Accenture’s Global Testing practice, a 35000 strong team, for more than a decade and has been in testing for the majority of her professional career.
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