Mobility Part 3: Citizen Developers deliver results

In Part 1 and Part 2, we talked about how demand for mobile apps is exploding but there are many barriers to overcome. Companies are looking for new ways to tackle the mobility challenge by choosing the right technology to fit the problem and spreading development among more people.

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Alternatives to Native App Development

Everything needs to work on mobile. But it doesn’t have to be a native app. As technology has matured, companies have discovered that they no longer need to take a native-only approach to app development. Progressive web and responsive web have rapidly become mainstream as companies realize that these apps meet their business needs but they’re also much faster and cheaper to build. They also don’t require the same skill set that native app development does addressing one of the most important barriers to mobility.

Nowadays, mobility is about reaching users through all channels, especially mobile web browsers, as users often don’t bother to install an app.

As a result, I.T. professionals preference for native app development has steadily declined to where just 17% prefer it in 2017 down from almost 30% 2 years ago.

User expectations are exceedingly high and they want apps that not only deliver function, but that also look and feel amazing and alternative approaches are increasingly able to deliver.

Citizen Developers offer a viable alternative

mobile-apps-4An obvious side effect is that companies are looking for less technical, cheaper and easier-to-find skill sets like HTML5, JavaScript and UX over specialized mobile app developers. A growing number are turning to citizen developers who are not coders-by-trade.

Two-fifths (43%) are already supporting or planning to support citizen developers and it’s a trend that’s on the rise. Gartner predicts that 70% of  large enterprises will empower citizen developers in the next 3 years.

These citizen developers can genuinely help companies get things done without the need to hire people with hard-to-find and expensive skill sets.

mobile-apps-8In companies that support citizen developers, over 50% are already prototyping and building departmental applications and almost a third (30%) are building employee-facing applications. Customer-facing and enterprise applications remain the province of professional coders by and large but citizen developers are making strides there as well.

Low-Code, Great UX and Citizen Developers

At frevvo, we see these trends converging in our customers. They’re often using frevvo for employee-facing applications like Purchase Approvals or Travel Authorizations.They definitely want to digitize these on mobile devices and they need to look great otherwise employees won’t use them. But, of course, spending $500K on a native mobile app each time is a non-starter.

That’s where we come in – citizen developers with skill sets that already exist in many organizations can certainly drag & drop fields onto e-forms, setup basic workflow routing and, in some cases, even do some integration (wizards, wizards, wizards …). Of course, I.T. still needs to get involved at some stage e.g. SQL database integration and JavaScript-based business rules.

Technologies like frevvo allow app development to be spread out among more people. That in turn eases pressure on IT teams, freeing them up to meet business needs.

Automating these applications can deliver tremendous ROI with customers saving over 50% of the cost and seeing positive returns in under 3 months. And we’re working every day to further reduce the required skill sets e.g. with our upcoming Visual Business Rule Builder (more on that in a future article).We’ll write more about it in upcoming articles. In the meantime, check out our website for some examples and this short (4.5m) video on creating beautiful, responsive mobile web forms with frevvo.

Concludes in Part 4.

Graphs and many of the insights in this series of articles can be found in the OutSystems 2017 State of Application Development Report (opt-in required). Credit: the afore-mentioned OutSystems report for all images in this article.

Mobility Part 2: Barriers to Mobile Apps Abound

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Companies plan to build lots of mobile apps in 2017

In a previous article, I discussed how demand for mobile apps is soaring but backlogs are large. This again, from the OutSystems 2017 State of Application Development Report (opt-in required). Credit: this report for images in this article.

Demand is exploding – nearly half of all I.T. professionals (44%) said they plan to build more than 10 apps. Not surprisingly, large organizations plan to build even more apps. At the top of the list are reporting & analytics, process automation and customer portals. Again, this is not surprising given the rising importance of the customer user experience (UX).

Barriers are everywhere

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Time, Budget and Skills are huge barriers

I.T. organizations have discovered that creating effective mobile apps that people will actually use is very difficult.

Time is a major challenge because applications simply take too long to build: more than 3/4ths of respondents say that it takes them > 3 months to build apps and, in many cases, it takes over a year. Real business applications are complex, they need to integrate with a variety of business systems to be really useful and these systems vary in age from modern to decades old.

Budgets are an obvious problem since app development is a very expensive proposition. According to Forrester, 62% of companies report spending more than $500,000 to create just 1-3 apps with several spending over $5 million.

There’s a serious skills gap – 44% of companies cannot find people with the highly sought after skills they need and they’re very expensive to hire.

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The declining popularity of native app development

New Approaches can Yield Results

Put it all together and it’s obvious that new approaches are needed.

Organizations, including many frevvo customers are turning to alternate approaches that yield results. A growing number are migrating to Low/No-code systems because they meet business needs but are faster and cheaper. They can be effectively used by citizen developers and don’t require the same sort of hard-to-find specialized skill sets that native app development requires. Regardless of company size, industry, geography or any other factor, alternative approaches to mobility are increasingly taking hold.

We’ll discuss these approaches in more detail next time (see Part 3).

Mobility Part 1: Mobile App Requirements are Soaring

mobile-apps-2By now everyone knows mobile is eating the world. Billions of smartphones, 75% of US workers being mobile etc. In response, businesses are prioritizing mobile apps. 88% of them say that mobile functionality is either very important or an outright requirement.  OutSystems 2017 State of Application Development Report has this and other fascinating insights. (All images in this article are from the report.)

We particularly like the 2017 business priorities outlined in the Figure below.. Our customers already address the top priorities here using frevvo. They build forms and workflows for automating routine processes that integrate with disparate systems/data sources and work automatically on mobile. Of course, many of these digitized processes modernize and/or replace existing legacy systems.

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We like these 2017 business priorities a lot!

The problem is that creating these kinds of mobile apps is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. I.T. managers report huge backlogs of projects stacking up because they cannot meet the current demand. That’s because there’s a significant skills gap and building native mobile apps is hard and ridiculously expensive.

New low-code approaches like frevvo are yielding results. We’ll write more about it in upcoming articles. In the meantime, check out our website for some examples and this short (4.5m) video on creating beautiful, responsive mobile web forms with frevvo.

Continued in Part 2.

JPMorgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours

legal-1.jpgI came across this article yesterday and was amazed by the numbers. JP Morgan Chase uses software to perform a routine task in seconds instead of 360,000 hours. Imagine the ROI on this automation?

“The push to automate mundane tasks and create new tools for bankers and clients — a growing part of the firm’s $9.6 billion technology budget — is a core theme as the company hosts its annual investor day on Tuesday.”

Not everyone is as big as JP Morgan Chase. Automating your routine day-to-day tasks isn’t likely to save you that much but investing in technology, especially to automate routine tasks is an absolute must in today’s world. It’s amazing how much this waste actually costs you. Automation brings huge benefits and return on investment.

If your people are wasting their time on routine stuff like moving information from Point A to Point B, your company should be investing in automation. As we’ve said many times: is it better for your employees to focus on customers or chasing down an approval for that purchase order? Should teachers and faculty focus on students or on getting signatures for that conference travel authorization?

“People always talk about this stuff as displacement. I talk about it as freeing people to work on higher-value things, which is why it’s such a terrific opportunity for the firm.”

Like JP Morgan, which spends 9% of revenue on technology (double the industry average), you can’t sit around and wait to know what the endgame looks like. The environment is simply moving too fast.

Tracking with Google Analytics

frevvo-analytics

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It’s the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet. If you’re using Google Analytics, you can integrate frevvo forms and workflow traffic into Analytics.

The simplest way to track form or workflow usage is to add your Google Analytics Tracking Id in the form’s Tracking Id property. Now every time someone uses this form or workflow, frevvo will transmit a Pageview to Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see this as a standard web page view in all Analytics reports.

If you wish, you can enable fine-grained tracking. For example, you want to track events like specific value changes on the form, form submission etc. You can use Custom JavaScript to call Google Analytics during these events.

Here is a sample script to call Google Analytics when user submits the form:

var CustomEventHandlers = {
setup: function(el) {
if (CustomView.hasClass(el, ‘s-submit’)) {
FEvent.observe(el, ‘click’, this.submitClicked.bindAsObserver(this, el));
}
},
submitClicked: function(evt, el) {
_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Purchase Order form submitted, ‘clicked’]);
}
}

You can observe a wide variety of events on any control in your form and track them individually at any level you desire. Please see the documentation for details on custom event handlers.

Automate your PO. Save $50,000 !!

roiWe’ve seen that many customers use frevvo to automate Purchase Orders. It’s the most frequent one. One of our partners asked me if I could quantify what’s it really worth. So, I tried to measure it for a 3-step approval workflow and the result was surprising at least to me. Here are the assumptions:

  1. An Employee costing $80,000/year (including benefits/taxes/vacation etc.) saves 10 min using an e-form.
  2. A Manager costing $100,000/year saves 3 min for each approval.
  3. An Accounting Manager costing $60,000/year saves 3 min for each invoice.
  4. There are 400 approvals/month (for all kinds of workflows PO, Leave Approval, Travel Authorization, Time Sheet etc.).

You’ll save ~$50K every single year or 57% of your costs. It’s amazing how much the paper/email process actually costs you – close to $85K per year. You’ll see positive ROI in just a bit over 2 months. 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.

Try this ROI Calculator for your own organization. It’s often hard to see how much those paper/email workflows are really costing you. Visit our website to view customer success stories and signup for a free trial.

[Webinar] What’s new in frevvo 7?

webinar1frevvo V7 has been out for a few months. We’ve improved it in a number of ways that are really important to customers. We’re also really excited about some upcoming developments, especially the Rule Builder.

Join our webinar on Thursday, February 9, 2017. We’ll be covering:

  • One-click templates
  • Business Insights (Reports)
  • Improved Submissions & Task Search
  • Visual Rule Builder (coming soon)
  • File System Connector & Wizard
  • box.com Connector & Wizard

Webinar Details

  • Date: Thursday, February 9.
  • Time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Duration: 50 minutes (including Q&A)
  • Speaker: Ashish Deshpande

Register Now