Make Application Development Cool Again

August 14, 2018

Contributor: Katie Costello

Invest in new skills, practices and technologies to transform your in-house application development organization into a top performer.

Today’s application organizations are digital organisms. They evolve through changes in their people, practices and technology. Digital disruptions — the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and blockchain — provide new and immediate opportunities, forcing application organizations to change faster than ever before. As Darwin taught us, the fastest-adapting organisms will survive.

“ Top-performing organizations expect to develop 40% of their new critical solutions in-house”

Jason Wong, research vice president at Gartner, finds that top-performing organizations expect to develop 40% of their new critical solutions in-house. “Application leaders responsible for digital business development strategies need to invest in novel ways of working internally that fuse with existing development activities to rapidly effect positive change,” Wong says.

Becoming a top performer means securing the “cool” factor and making your application development organization the “place to be” for developers. To do so, Gartner recommends investing in your people, practices and technology.

Invest in people: Developers want to build cool software

Top developers want to work for organizations that allow them to build purposeful, cool software. As such, application leaders must devote more attention to internal development in order to differentiate themselves and close the gap between their current state and leading industry performers.

“Hiring or building new competencies, for example in user experience (UX) architecture and API product management, will create an innovative culture that’s cool again,” says Elizabeth Golluscio, managing vice president at Gartner. “Developers want to know they are using the latest techniques and best practices to enable innovation and agility in their organization.”

Invest in practices: Cool organizations are moving to product thinking

In 2018, 73% of companies moved to IT product management, up from the mid-50% range in 2017. This product thinking way of work means that application leaders need to introduce digital into development processes to support product owners, thus allowing for continuous product improvement. “Lean and agile delivery teams need effective product management as much as product management needs agile delivery,” Wong says.

“ By 2020, product-oriented organizations will deliver better customer satisfaction and business results”

It is essential that organizations move their practices toward those used by leading application development teams, for instance agile and DevOps, which subsequently empower developers to do what they truly want to do and more quickly respond to business needs. Gartner predicts that by 2020, product-oriented organizations will deliver better customer satisfaction and business results.  

Invest in technology: Multiexperience development has the cool factor

Attracting top talent to develop applications that have the cool factor means investing in new multiexperience development technology that maximizes the mesh app and service architecture (MASA).

  • Multiexperience development: Involves creating fit-for-purpose apps based on touchpoint-specific modalities (e.g., touch, voice, gesture), while ensuring a consistent user experience across web, mobile, wearables, and conversational and immersive touchpoints.
  • MASA: An overall architecture for building modern apps and services that replace client/server architecture. It is becoming a baseline for new trends in application development.

Top performers are using new UX design constructs and multiexperience development technologies to support MASA, simplify the development of front-end apps and increase agility with back-end services.

“The best application development strategies will shape people, practices and technology investments to modernize and create innovative app experiences for digital business transformation,” says Golluscio. “Most critically, leaders must adopt a growth mindset to create a top-performing development team.”

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