Digital transformation is essential for businesses of any size to stay relevant and competitive in today’s market. Yet for a small business with a limited budget, it could sound like an intimidating undertaking.
However, you simply can’t ignore the benefits of using the right technologies in your business. It’ll help you improve efficiency, lower costs, increase productivity, improve customer experience, and ultimately, boost profits.
In fact, 42% of SMBs now consider digital transformation a core component of their organizational strategy. Digital leaders are doubling the performance of digital laggards.
There’s a lot of buzz around the term digital transformation (DX). As a small business, you may wonder if it’s something you need to pay attention to.
It sounds like a fancy gimmick for large corporations with big IT budgets.
However, no small business can afford to ignore digital transformation. Don’t sweep it under the rug. You’ll likely miss out on opportunities that will set your business up for success for years to come.
Research conducted by Bain & Company revealed that digital leaders more than double the performance of digital laggards in their industries. Profitability follows the same pattern – 83% of the leaders increased their margins over the same period while less than half of the laggards did so.
Change is inevitable. Business speed is accelerating relentlessly. Think about it: Uber and AirBnb didn’t really exist 10 years ago. Today, they’re giants that have caused massive upheaval in major, entrenched industries.
We have entered a world where talent will always be scarce. One of your top 2019 priorities should be to create a concrete plan to identify and eliminate activities that employees won’t be doing in 2020, so your top talent can focus on the things that matter.
There’s no doubt that the modern workplace increasingly relies on digital technology. Amazingly, paper-based forms and processes are still commonplace across organizations of all sizes. Examples abound from patient information forms that repeatedly request the same data to extremely paper-intensive processes like on-boarding a new hire with dozens of forms and signatures.
The speed of technology evolution has forced enterprises to reimagine and redesign their business processes. The digital revolution has now moved well past convenient apps that let you order food and hail cabs to a collection of smart technologies that will impact every facet of every single business. This digital transformation isn’t coming — it’s already here. Your task over the next three years is to apply these smart technologies to fundamentally remake your business operations. Digital Transformation Is About Customer Centricity Digital transformation is neither a single project nor a single technology. It’s not about modernizing legacy systems or slapping a mobile experience on applications. It’s the process of using digital technologies to focus your operations on rapidly addressing customer pain points. And that starts with your core operations. Technology, however, can only do so much. Ultimately, it’s the people and business processes at the heart of your organization that will truly drive change and digital transformation. Continue reading “How To Achieve Digital Transformation With Low-Code Development Platforms”→
Low code development platforms have rapidly became a major strategic investment for organizations. These tools were initially intended for developing basic departmental applications, but they are now playing a major role in achieving complete digital transformation. In fact, low code citizen development platforms have changed the method of interaction between users and organizations as well as between organizations and information. The low-code development platform has given birth to a new genre of technology warriors – ‘Citizen Developers’. Using drag & drop functionality and visual wizards included in a low code development platform, these citizen developers with almost zero coding knowledge are rapidly building new business apps, workflows and modifying existing business processes to improve efficiency, productivity, and functionality.
What is a Low-Code Development Platform?
According to Forrester, low-code development platforms are defined as: Products and/or cloud services for application development that employ visual, declarative techniques instead of programming and are available to customers at low- or no-cost in money and training time to begin, with costs rising in the proportion of the business value of the platforms.
The Emergence of Low Code Platforms
James Martin in his book “Application Development Without Programmers” published in 1982 wrote, “The number of programmers available per computer is shrinking so fast that most computers in the future must be put to work at least in part without programmers”. The idea seems to be catching on. Forrester coined the term “Low Code” in 2014 for classifying development platforms focusing on development simplicity and ease of use. These platforms allow business professionals including those having limited or no coding knowledge to create business application software using a graphical user interface instead of computer programming. In a low-code development platform, you can automatically generate all the components, front-end and back-end code and configuration files complying with standard coding practices. In a typical low-code development platform you get a comprehensive set of functionality including,
Visual modeling of business logic and workflows that can be extended with custom code
Visual definition of data and models integration components
Drag-and-drop implementation of a modern user interface for multiple devices
According to a 2016 indeed.com survey, 83% of organizations feel that their business has been hurt by the tech talent shortage, And a Salesforce.com report reveals that four of the top seven pain points that IT leaders face are related to the skills gap. One-third of IT teams struggle to keep skills current. Modern IT organizations also face a different kind of challenge – the ‘Speed of Change’. Technology is changing faster than the user can learn it. Four out of ten companies, face moderate to major IT skill gaps leading to almost 20% productivity loss resulting in a $1.3 trillion cost to U.S. businesses. These organizations would love a Captain America to come to their rescue. Low-code development platforms just may be the Captain America of the future. Over the next five years, the IT skills gap is expected to grow further. According to the Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISW) 2017 Report, as many as 1.8 Million IT jobs will remain unfulfilled by the end of 2022. There are two major factors contributing to the widening skill gap,
The rapid pace of technology change &
Impact of IT as core function on modern businesses
Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute report “The Digital Talent Gap” states: ‘Many organizations out there face a shortage of skilled IT people and confess that it hampers their competitiveness and performance’ Organizations are tackling IT skill gap challenges in different ways. One of the best places to start is your own employees by deploying a low/no-code development platform and instituting training programs for employees who aren’t professional coders-by-trade so that they can start contributing where appropriate and reduce the burden on traditional IT.
Shortage of tech talent has become a critical factor
According to The App Association report, in the USA alone, there are almost 223,054 unfilled job openings for software developers but not enough qualified people to fill them.
According to Bloomberg report, demand for software technologists is at full boil. Companies are spending more but they are also investing more in training, internships and considering more candidates with “transferable skills”.
By 2020 employment opportunities for everyone related to computer technologies will see strong growth of 22%, but specific IT fields will see comparatively higher growth. According to Gartner: Insights from the 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report 1 million computer programming jobs in the US are expected to go unfilled by 2020.
There’s no question that a lack of expert tech talent is a leading obstacle for global CIO’s in achieving their objectives.
It’s Time to Play the Low-code Game
According to Forrester Research “Every company is a software company”. The world of technology is changing at breakneck speed. Therefore, there is an increased need for rapid business application development, which is incredibly challenging when you can’t attract the necessary talent.
Your ability to identify, analyze, and respond to changing digital innovation requirements, earlier than your competitors will now determine whether your organization will sink or swim.
Low-code can make a dramatic difference. Instead of huge investments to maintain large business applications, low-code development platforms provide a flexible, drag-&-drop approach to develop smaller fragments of big business applications that are updated, managed, and deployed piecemeal to meet a specific business need.
Without large amounts of code to write and maintain, it’s easier than ever before for people with limited or no coding knowledge to readily build functional, innovative applications.
Why Enterprises Switched to Low-Code Platforms?
OutSystems “The State of Application Development | How IT is responding to Digital Disruption and Innovation – 2018” has many insights. In the survey report, OutSystems asked participants why they decided to use low-code development platforms. The three answers that stood out were 1) accelerating digital innovation and transformation (69%), 2) reducing current IT backlog and increasing responsiveness to the business (55%), and 3) reducing dependency on hard-to-hire technical skills (38%). Common Myths Related to Low Code Development Platform Lack of knowledge is the main barrier, and concerns regarding capability, vendor lock-in, security, and scalability cluster close behind. Low-Code Development Platforms are a viable option The right low-code development platform empowers you to build versatile business apps. However, in a crowded market (offering lightweight business-user tools, citizen developer tools, specialty mobile application development tools and platforms available for software application development & delivery) with many vendors calling themselves low-code, it can be challenging to identify the right platform.
Here are few things to consider:
Amazing User Experience: Remember that your users are also consumers who use mobile apps every day. They’re used to a slick user experience, 24×7 access on any device. This should be the #1 thing you look at.
Security: Any successful platform today is already dealing with security. Still, it’s important to ensure that your platform has the necessary certifications, especially for Cloud deployment. Ensure that apps built by citizen developers are secure throughout the development lifecycle.
Scalability: Make sure that architecture you will be choosing supports numerous options including vertical/horizontal scalability that can be adjusted to a business specific requirement. Who knows? Someday, a simple in-house business application may emerge as a globally deployed solution supporting millions of users. Again, a viable platform today likely pays close attention to scalability.
Proven Track Record: The platform has a proven history of developing and delivering solutions.
Rising competition has confirmed that faster iterative delivery of high-quality software is the new game. Now it’s your call … are you going to play the game or watch from the bleachers?
By now, everyone’s heard of Digital Transformation. Digital Transformation is the process of using technology to radically change your business to pursue new revenue streams & business models and to avoid disruption. But, what exactly does that mean? Digital Transformation is not a single IT project. It’s the combination of numerous projects that infuse “digital” into everything within your organization – from evolving the underlying technology to servicing your constituents increasingly on mobile to digitizing your processes to create efficiencies to integrating with third parties to create better customer experiences. Ultimately, though, DBT is about organizational change to improve performance through the use of digital technologies.
Start with your Workflow
Technology itself makes a difference and creates innovation but at the end of the day it’s the people and the business processes in an organization that can truly drive change, disruption and transformation. Automating your day-to-day workflows is at the very foundation of digital transformation. If your organization does not already have a workflow automation platform, I strongly suggest looking into one now. Using a platform, you can digitize forms for employees and customers and automate your routine processes. Once they’re automated, you can measure the effectiveness of those processes and optimize choke points to drive genuine change. You can collect and analyze your proprietary data in myriad ways to improve business performance. Without workflow automation you’re still dealing with manual processes. You’ll probably need to worry about being disrupted and becoming irrelevant.
5 ways Workflow Automation can change your business
1. Increased Efficiency
What might the transformed, modern business application look like? It will undoubtedly:
Automate forms and workflows so there’s no need to print, sign and scan.
Integrate with data and systems to reduce tedious manual data entry.
Intelligently route documents to the right person at the right time to ensure that business constraints are satisfied.
Automatically support all mobile devices and speed up the approval process by providing 24×7 access from anywhere.
2. World Class Customer Service
Over-delivering on customer service is the single most important thing you can do to increase revenue. Otherwise, today’s consumers will quickly move on to the competition. Today, customers are used to interacting with your organization online at any time. If they need some information from your company and it’s only available during business hours, they’ll be frustrated and feel inconvenienced. Automation ensures that your customers have a smooth experience by enabling them to access information when they need it. When employees are wasting time chasing down internal approvals, they have less time to focus on customer service. Automated approvals free up their time so it can be invested into what’s important: customers, students and patients.
3. Enable Mobility
75% of U.S. information workers rely on mobile. In response, businesses are prioritizing mobility with 88% of them saying that mobile functionality is either very important or an outright requirement. But, one-off mobile apps are hard and barriers abound. Time, budget and skills are all in short supply. In addition, mobility nowadays is about reaching users through all channels, especially mobile web browsers, as users often don’t bother to install a native app. Workflow automation systems offer visual and low-code approaches that let you provide business functionality in web-apps and spread that development out among more people – the “citizen” developers in your organization. That in turn eases pressure on I.T. teams, freeing them up to meet business needs.
4. Business Agility
Automation taking advantage of cloud (+ mobile) is a critical driver of business agility – roughly speaking, the ability of your business to react rapidly to changing business conditions. Think of two main aspects:
Responsiveness – Enable employees to do the right thing at the right time. That means reducing business complexity (stop wasting time on paperwork, errors, missing signatures etc.), employee efficiency (let them work anytime, anywhere and using any device) and collaboration (access to people and information from anywhere as needed).
New Opportunities – Faster rollout of new business initiatives as business conditions change e.g. introduce a new product offering or modify internal processes to quickly satisfy changed customer demands even something as simple as letting people buy on their mobile phone.
Both are sources of significant competitive advantage. According to Harvard Business Review’s recent survey on Business Agility in the Cloud, companies are already seeing business value and benefits from simplification, collaboration, and faster reactions to new opportunities. This business agility appears to lead to some very tangible and measurable outcomes: 49% are more likely to have entered a new market in the past three years i.e. rolled out business initiatives quickly to take advantage of a new business opportunity. Significant majorities believe cloud (+ mobile) reduces business complexity (71%), increases employee productivity (69%) and responsiveness to customers (53%).
It’s often hard to see how much those paper- and email-based workflows are really costing you. Let’s do a quick analysis. Consider a 3-step workflow:
Performed by an Employee – a Travel Authorization or Purchase Requisition. Let’s say this employee costs $80,000/year including benefits, vacation, taxes and other costs (equivalent to a salary of about $60,000).
Performed by a Manager who essentially checks the request, approves it if it is valid or sends it back for corrections. Let’s say the manager costs $100,000/year inclusive of all costs.
Performed by an HR or Finance person who essentially updates an internal system and does the equivalent of filing the request. Say, this is a part-time person costing $60,000/year.
Now, assume that the time savings are 10 min, 3 min and 3 min respectively in each step. That’s pretty conservative given there’s no printing, signing, scanning etc. involved. Finally, assume that there are 400 approvals per month of all kinds (Vacation requests, Sales Orders, Timesheets, Travel Authorizations etc.) How much do you think you will save in costs? You might be shocked:
You’ll save ~$50,000 every single year or 57% of your costs and see net positive ROI in just a bit over 2 months.
That paper/email process actually costs you close to $85K per year. And that doesn’t even take into account the time spent trying to track down emails, chasing down managers for signatures or, perhaps of greater importance, the Opportunity Cost of delayed approvals.
Analytics and Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a major role in the future of business transformation powered by digital technologies. But deploying these technologies relies on access to your proprietary data making it your most valuable asset. Workflow automation is the foundation. Think about it!
Paper- and email-based processes deny you access to your single most valuable asset – your business data.
Eventually, AI engines powered by data analysis will end up automating the optimization of your workflows. But, your processes need to be ready.
If you want digital transformation, start with workflow.
Interested in finding out more? Visit our website to and see how customers are already using frevvo’s public and private cloud solutions to transform everyday business processes.