As digital transformation takes hold across all industries, new opportunities are emerging for line-of-business (LOB) managers to take control of meeting their own needs by creating custom apps. This represents a shift away from yesterday’s tools, such as paper forms and desktop spreadsheets and a reduced reliance on the IT department. Let’s examine what LOB professionals can do with custom app platforms to address their on-the-job needs.
An Internal/External Conflict
LOB employees are usually filled with inventive ideas about how they can execute on their business and workflows. They also have a general sense of impatience about having to wait on others to solve their business problems.
With their boots firmly on the ground, these pros are clear on what their workload looks like and what they’re up against, and they have the capacity and creativity to model those issues and solve them very effectively. But traditionally, they’ve had to wait on an external IT agency to deliver the solutions on a custom level. That can negatively impact their business – sometimes in a big way.
Offloading IT Burden
Productivity tools such as Excel or other management tools are available to LOB professionals, but spreadsheets and desktop databases don’t really model the workload very well. Line-of-business professionals want custom apps; they want solutions that are specific to their business. But finding a developer who understands their business as well as they do is essentially impossible. So then, using a platform that doesn’t require extensive programming experience is about taking ownership of the problem and solving it themselves.
When it comes down to it, doesn’t it make sense to give the person who does the work and knows it the best the tools to close the gap and create the app itself? One of the key problems that line-of-business managers have is the fitness of apps for the workload in their businesses. They want custom solutions just like anyone else. There is demand for a custom solution, but there isn’t enough supply. Finding someone who can deliver for them in a timely manner is difficult, so one of the benefits of a low-code/no-code platform is that it enables the manager to take control.
Because business demands today are bigger than ever, IT availability is even more limited than before. Requirements are immense, and this creates a time crunch that IT can’t keep up with. One way to offload that key IT burden is if, instead of IT creating all these apps, LOB professionals step in to create the apps themselves. Low-code and no code platforms provide tools to address workflow, mapping of information in external sources and mobile app capabilities.
How and Why Businesses Use Custom App Platforms
Historically, there have only been two options for businesses that wanted to automate processes. They had to either buy packaged apps—which may not have all the needed features—or hire a consultant to provide custom apps.
Businesses gain control of their data and put it to work for them by using low- or no-code platform to create custom apps. This increases productivity, instead of employees constantly chasing it. It is possible to scale the apps over time as needed, and these apps offer strong reporting and publishing features. ?
A recent survey found that businesses are using custom apps primarily to streamline their operations. They manage contacts and projects, provide reporting and track what matters to them using their custom app.
Fifty-two percent of respondents use their custom apps for reporting and analytics, and 57 percent of use them to manage customer, client and member contacts. Forty-one percent of those surveyed manage projects, tasks and schedules with their apps, and 40 percent use their apps to manage inventory and assets.
Benefits All Around
Digital transformation creates exciting opportunities for businesses, along with the challenge of an overburdened IT team. Line-of-business professionals want to take advantage of digitization but don’t want to wait in line to realize the improved workflows, efficiency and productivity that come from custom apps. LOB managers know what problems need fixing and can now use a custom app platform to solve those problems and meet their organizations’ objectives. This takes work off the IT department’s plate and, as an added bonus, provides an opportunity for LOB managers to advance their career skills and bring greater value to the business.
About the Author: Andrew LeCates is the head of platform evangelism for FileMaker, Inc., an Apple (News - Alert) subsidiary. He is a 20-year veteran of the company, which develops simply powerful software for easily creating custom apps that work seamlessly across iPad, iPhone (News - Alert), Windows, Mac and the web.