Posted in Digital Transformation

Building a Digital Workplace Makes Dollars and Sense

What Is a Digital Workplace? 

A digital workplace is the natural evolution of the workplace driven by the widespread adoption of digital technology. The days of a workplace being a physical office occupied by employees during regular business hours are long gone. Today’s modern, always-connected technologies have transformed the workplace into a virtual environment that transcends the physical office building – a digital workplace.

The way we work in the digital era is vastly different from the way we used to work: from collaboration among employees via videoconferencing tools like Zoom and messaging apps like Slack, to engagement with customers with help desk tools such as Zendesk and email marketing platforms like Marketo, to transforming everyday business processes using platforms like frevvo. The aim is to improve operational efficiency and meet business goals.

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Why Everyone on Your Team Rolls Their Eyes at ‘Digital Transformation’

Digital transformation (DX) is not a new trend or a passing fad. Organizations have been adopting digital practices for years, overhauling internal and external operations to modernize their businesses and remain competitive. According to a Tech Pro Research Survey, 70% of businesses said that they either have a digital transformation strategy in place or they are currently working on one. 

Empowering your workforce to buy into digital transformation is critical to success, as employee interaction with your internal operations and sales-facing strategies affects every aspect of your business. But employees are not always willing to comply, afraid of the changes ahead and fearing that their jobs will be harder to perform.  

In the wake of the current challenges raised by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees alike are having to rapidly adjust their attitude towards digital transformation.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons employees resist digital transformation so as to address these concerns with greater care and better equip them to deal with the challenges of remote work.

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Automation and Digital Transformation: The Key to Unlocking Business Growth

Doubtless, by now, you’ve seen and heard people frothing at the mouth in their fervor for digital transformation. If it’s not the buzzword of the decade, it’s certainly in the top ten. Automation is another contender for the top spot. But if both revolve around making business operations more efficient, what’s the difference, exactly? 

Let’s dive in.

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The Paperless Office: 35 Years of Dreaming Digital

In 1975, a Business Week article titled “The Office of the Future” predicted the rise of the paperless office. The concept arose as a publicist’s slogan for the IBM 2260 in 1964, which proclaimed the computer terminal as the harbinger of the “office of the future.” 

Back then, paper documents were kept in filing cabinets and storage boxes, and when items were misfiled, it could take weeks to track them down. Processes involving large numbers of people like university admissions and student registration generated mountains of paperwork, all of which had to be processed by hand. 

It’s no wonder the dream of the paperless office captivated the popular imagination: the thought of being able to process – and locate – information within seconds had enormous appeal.

So what is a paperless office? Exactly what it sounds like: a work environment where paper usage is either wholly eliminated or greatly reduced by using digital formats instead.

With the rise of personal computers and office automation, the use of paper for tasks such as bookkeeping, record-keeping and sending memos would be made redundant, as everything could be stored and displayed on computers. Prolific paper users like schools and universities would use screens to teach students and even homework assignments and exams would eventually be conducted using computers.

However, while Business Week’s prediction of a personal computer on every desk came true, the paperless office has not yet become a reality. Despite advances in communication technologies such as the advent of email, paper documents continued to proliferate. 

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6 Keys to Digital Transformation for Small Businesses

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.

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Digital Transformation For Small Business: Key Areas To Leverage Technology For Growth

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.

Digital Transformation leaders outperform laggards.

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.

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State of Low Code Development Platforms – Era of Tech Warriors without Tech Knowledge

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.

Source: MarketsandMarkets Research

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
  • Application change and lifecycle management

In “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms for AD&D Pros – Q4 2017” Report, there is an interesting comparison showing the challenges faced by organizations when building apps using traditional coding methods and the impact of low-code development platforms in addressing these issues.

IT Recruitment/Skill Gaps a Major Challenge

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-code workflow 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.
  • A simple search on indeed.com returns 104,748 jobs under the title ‘Software Developer’ and about 234,824 jobs under the title ‘Software Engineer’.

  • 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?