As a society, we use apps to manage, connect and augment our day-to-day lives. So, it’s understandable that when we go to work, we expect to have the same. Apps can help organisations modernise processes, create new innovations and uncover opportunities.
According to the IDC, this growing demand for digital solutions means that 500 million new applications will be built in the next five years. And with a shortfall of 4 million developers predicted by 2025, most organisations don’t have enough developers to create the apps they need. We call this the App Gap Challenge:
The gap between the number of software developers you have today and the number of software developers you need to build the next generation of apps.
So how can organisations solve this? Low/no code platforms like Microsoft Power Apps can help speed up app development and democratise it across the organisation.
Empower developers to innovate with low/no code
Low/no code solutions allows the rapid building of solutions that automate and streamline routine tasks. This allows developers to focus on more high-value, complex work. According to The Total Economic Impact™ Of Power Apps commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, Power Apps can reduce app development and costs by 74 percent.
It can also help organisations drive a growth mindset culture in development teams. They can use Power Apps to quickly prototype a new idea and deploy this capability rapidly.
Take, for example, AstraZeneca’s HealthyMind app. The biopharmaceutical company wanted to ensure their employees had convenient, secure access to mental health resources. It took the developer team just four months to build the solution on Power Apps.
“Key to the choice [of Power Apps] was its ease of use. It is low code, so it is quick to develop and deploy. This all meant that we were able to design and build HealthyMind very quickly,” says Matt O’Halloran, Head of Workplace and Enterprise Services at AstraZeneca.
A platform like Power Apps can also connect to hundreds of different data sources including Microsoft Dataverse. This brings all your business data together into a single source of truth. Your developers can easily customise and extend capabilities in Azure and leverage business data from your systems of record such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Surface through Microsoft 365.
“[HealthyMind’s] natural integration with the broader suite that we use enabled us to deliver the application within the context of Teams, which was another game-changing factor,” says O’Halloran.
Drive digitisation with citizen development
With low/no code, development is democratised throughout your organisation. It allows anyone to solve business problems themselves.
At Centrica, citizen developers have built over 1,000 apps.
“We’ve really embraced this technology in Centrica. We’ve made an effort to be on the front foot and use the latest technology first, rather than waiting for it to be embedded and then acting,” says James Boswell, Director, Design and Engineering at Centrica. “It was a conscious risk but it’s worked really well – it’s giving us some great benefits and rewards and we’re well on the way to ensuring all our employees are digital employees.”
For the energy services and solutions company, Power Apps has changed perceptions and steered to business-led development. Take, their finance team for example, in a couple of months they built an app that simplified and automated coordinating tax returns across different regimes.
Build fusion teams to digitise and innovate faster
What happens when you combine your pro developers and citizen developers? You build fusion teams and unlock the true value of low/no code. According to Gartner, 84 percent of companies already have a fusion team.
By bringing together people with different experiences and knowledge into a multi-disciplinary team, you’ll build more innovative, inclusive apps, faster.
In a fusion team, citizen developers, with the support of pro developers, can rapidly build more complex applications. Citizen developers can focus on the UI, whilst pro developers can create and manage the APIs needed to enrich the application with key data sources. This accelerates time-to-delivery. Fusion teams can deploy solutions up to two and a half times faster than traditional siloed teams.
Centrica used a fusion team to develop an app that matches Centrica volunteers with people from the Trussell Trust charity.
“We’ve got people from all over the business working together. Some are working on the development work, some on the UI, some acting as scrum masters to manage the project. It’s all being done by people who came to the clinics and volunteered. And it will be a huge help to the Trussell Trust,” says Roy Young, Global Head of Office 365.
Build a fusion team
- Find your use case
Pick a relevant problem that needs solving quickly and when solved, provides a considerable impact.
- Assemble your team
Have a mixture of proactive employees from across many lines of business, such as customer service, developers, team leaders, business leads.
- Plan your roadmap
Determine how much time it’ll take to create, implement, and produce results. Make sure you have time to troubleshoot and determine which solutions work best.
- Accept mistakes along the way
By working in an agile environment, your team will constantly be testing and may have to be ready to pivot when necessary.
Drive digitalisation and innovation
Power Apps helps organisations increase agility by giving everyone the ability to rapidly build low-code apps that drive innovation, modernise processes and solve tough challenges.
Cara Barratt, Workplace Transformation Lead at AstraZeneca agrees, “…we’re really looking at how we can empower our colleagues across AstraZeneca so those that have great ideas can develop their own use cases.”
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About the author
As a Power Platform Technical Specialist at Microsoft, Simon takes great pride in helping companies solve their business problems and generate insight into data, providing rapid answers to business questions through use of the Power Platform (specifically Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, Dataverse and AI Builder). He enjoys working with the people in customer organisations who are helping to drive transformation using this technology and seeing the impact it has on their organisations and their careers.