More Clicks, Less Code

The idea of visual software development has been around for over ten years, but it is only now that enterprises and government agencies are starting to embrace the potential of the application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) at scale — as industry analysts Gartner label this category of software.

Introduction: application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS)

IT needs to go faster, cheaper: you can’t warehouse time, and less is more. Yet enterprise IT organisations today, are still bogged-down in expensive, time-consuming projects: CRM, ERP, et al. The continuous proliferation of silo’d IT applications creates the need for yet more application integrations. We might be moving from on-premise to the cloud, but enterprise IT remains way too complex, way too slow — and way too expensive.

Time to change: and that change is visual development in the cloud — underpinned by Design Thinking —resulting in the creation of end-to-end apps that transcend the boundaries of individual organisations and departments. The technology facilitator for this is an application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS). This means creating end-to-end cloud apps with no coding — just mouse clicks — and an end to the excessive fragmentation of enterprise IT.

Visual development is sometimes referred to as ‘declarative development’: effectively, a method of creating software without writing syntax code and via ‘configuration’ of pre-built modules (‘objects’ or ‘entities’) and use of ‘drag-and-drop’ interactions, using a desktop PC and mouse pointer device. Anyone who can edit a spreadsheet is able to create apps with drag-and-drop tools and related ‘wizards’ or forms. Referred to as ‘clicks, not code’ a non-developer can use the aPaaS technology to build the business logic and automate workflows. This is where user interface (UI) components and page layouts are automatically generated with Responsive stylesheets — supporting desktop, tablet and smartphone user devices and popular Web browsers, such as Google Chrome or Apple Safari.

Instead of fragmented CRM, ERP, PSA, SCM, stitched together with complex integration software — the aPaaS technology enables the creation of One Business Logic for an end-to-end enterprise IT architecture. This means continuous development: a step-by-step replacement of the old, on-premise technology or expensive, outmoded first generation cloud apps. Integrations are simplified: fewer apps remaining — such as Google G Suite for office productivity and LinkedIn and Facebook for social networks, say.

Generating Digital Innovation: Mutual Value Discovery

The aPaaS technology is a great facilitator, but digital innovation can only be generated with an end-to-end IT architecture if Design Thinking is embedded into the process. This means setting-up a series of Mutual Value Discovery Workshops with all stakeholders engaged in the process in question: and always beyond the narrow confines of one department, and often, wider than a single organisation.

Mutual Discovery is the foundation for Service Design: effectively, Design Thinking applied to solving compelling enterprise process challenges — and focusing hard on customer and employee experience in rapidly designing and testing new cloud apps created on the aPaaS technology.

What’s different here is the distance between discovery and delivery: no-code software development with an aPaaS radically reduces the time from ideation to execution in software. In many situations, this can become a closed-loop in a single meeting at a time — idea to code in hours and minutes.

Summary: Your aPaaS Advantage

The move to aPaaS technology is more than a shift in technology: it’s a fundamental collapse in the time between ideation and execution of Service Design in business. In practice, this means that IT no longer becomes an abstract operation, apart from business, but something that everyone is deeply engaged in. By removing complex coding from app design and publishing, all of the classic inertias of IT are removed.

An aPaaS technology enables Design Thinking — not abstract software engineering — to drive real world Service Designs. This translates into apps and workflows that conform to three Design Principles: (1.) Meaningful Journey; (2.) Fierce Reduction; and, (3.) Progressive Disclosure.

Meaningful Journey means apps used on desktop, tablet and smartphone devices that work the way users intuitively think and work.

Fierce Reduction means eliminating everything you can from a process, task or set of tasks: applying lean thinking to Service Design.

Progressive Disclosure means limiting what users sees on a device screen only what they need to see and act upon: avoid cognitive overload.

Next Steps …

If you want to know more about the power of aPaaS technology combined with Design Thinking for Service Design and digital innovation, connect with our team at Visually Done.

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