It's the apps, stupid.

In the third of a nine-part series drawing on the Logicalis Global CIO study, Chris Gabriel explains why apps are central to digital transformation.

The statement ‘Every company is a software company’ has been on repeat over the last few years. When it was first uttered it was more of a future-gazing, stake-in-the-ground pronouncement – and its application to today’s world is probably still a bit premature. Not every business is a software business, yet – but our global CIO survey suggests that we’re getting there, with the help of a few shining lights along the way.

In 2013, Forbes noted that Ford sells computers-on-wheels and FedEx boasts a developer skunkworks (a loosely structured group of people who research and develop a project primarily for the sake of radical innovation.) Both are great examples of the happy union between traditional industries and technology industries – and, today, they are not as isolated as you might think. Over 700 CIOs now tell us that 77% of firms are similarly developing apps, either in-house, with the help of third parties or drawing on a combination of internal and external skills.

In fact, not only is the volume of companies getting up close and personal with application development starting to swell, but app development as a strategic activity is also attracting more attention. Rather than being relegated to the fringes, application development is increasingly taking to the centre ground. Today, less than a quarter of apps (23%) are purely promotional. The majority are being used to build new services and revenue (57%) or streamline business processes (63%).

Developing for digital

We tend to associate apps with the Apple app store or the Android marketplace but they’re so much more than website spin-offs for mobile users. Enterprise-grade applications are replacing ‘big tech’. With the goal of putting automation at their core and providing frictionless self-service experiences, companies are bringing workloads up to the application level.

In the past, we’ve emphasised the benefits of instituting a Dev-Ops strategy to develop code with fewer defects and support challenges once they’re released into production. My message to the 64% of businesses developing apps in-house would be to take a digital performance readiness approach and embrace agile from the beginning. Allowing updates to be made quickly and regularly, for constant refinement will create ‘killer apps’ with a punch to disrupt for the better.

Apps = Smart software

As the research attests, all sorts of companies are creating their own luck and doing some sort of app wizardry to get ahead.

Book publishers in the business of printing books are transforming themselves into software companies to offer digital content and branded applications. Airline companies are building equipment-tracking apps to provide engineers with a live view of the locations of each piece of airline maintenance equipment and pharmaceutical companies are creating medication temperature monitoring apps, which use sensors to ensure the best possible delivery of medical supplies.

Overall, apps are making firms a lot smarter. Their ability to gather tremendous amounts of data from sensors and other sources, using machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics makes them the brains behind a company’s transformation and the driving force behind our respondents' digital transformation journey. Channelling James Carville, Bill Clinton's campaign strategist, “it's the apps, stupid”.

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Tags Digital Transformation, IT trends, Digital, Apps