Industrialisation ensures standards, which lowers costs and prevents anomalies and errors. Industrialisation succeeds because it is focused on the tools and not the availability of people to create outcomes.
As organisations in every vertical market face the twin challenges of finding and securing the right skilled staff for an organisation and the rising need for digital services, there is a growing awareness that digital technology needs to be industrialised.
To date many technology epochs have relied on the availability of skilled labour. Technology has been hand crafted by internal teams, outsourced to systems integrators, near shored and more recently returned to the business in digital teams using Agile and DevOps. The pace of change and the global shortage of skills is giving rise to renewed interest in what is termed the Digital Factory.
A Digital Factory uses Low Code methods. Low Code is essentially the use of Application platform as a services (aPaaS), as research house Gartner terms it, or Application Development Platform as fellow research firm Ovum describes them. These are essentially application toolsets stuffed to the gills with templates and repeatable processes. In using a Low Code platform CIOs and organisations are able to create a Digital Factory, whereby the business can with complete agility build new digital services to keep up with the demand of customers. These could be APIs, websites, Apps, new channels or interfaces.
The media and communications industry for example has been revolutionised by Low Code technologies. An increasing number of publishing products are using the WordPress platform. Whether a publication is from a major global publisher or a startup such as the Horizon CIO Podcast, the WordPress platform provides organisations with tools for broadcasting podcasts, publishing articles and blogs, displaying advertising and running advertising campaigns. Previously each of these required a publishing company to either subscribe or licence an array of software and then carefully integrate all of these to meet the needs of customers.
Your email inbox is no doubt awash of late with communiques regarding GDPR. Mailchimp and DotMailer have revolutionised email communications, offering organisations a set of templates and tools as a subscription to simplify and increase the power of email through a Low Code method.
In financial services organisations like AXA, Credit Agricole, Cofidis and challenger Blue Zest are using Digital Factories to keep pace with the fintech businesses that are more Agile at digital delivery. In utilities Engie is another using Low Code to meet the needs of customers who expect a digital relationship with the energy they consume. As Brussels Airlines CIO Simon Lamkin told this title’s CIO podcast recently, airlines must offer digital services to passengers and the ecosystem of businesses they rely on to get passengers to and from destinations, and Portuguese national airlines TAP has flown down the Low Code flightpath.
Organisations are adopting Low Code Digital Factories because the toolset to support application development, deployment and execution in the cloud, reports analysts Gartner and they add that Low Code platforms, “provide transparent access to the underlying infrastructure,” which arguably makes Low Code the platform for DevOps.
The reason these organisations are adopting Low Code is that a Digital Factory not only enables the industrialisation of digital outcomes, it touches the three cornerstones of business technology: operations, customer experience and core business applications.
Outsystems, one of the leading providers of Low Code says internal business operations often rely on “cobbled together” solutions using spreadsheets, applications and email. Organisations looking to create a digital operations so that their operations are as agile and effective as the digital giants like Amazon and Google can create dashboards and workflows at a much reduced cost. Previously organisations have had to rely on systems integrators to achieve this and pay a significant price.
With a need to deliver customer services online in agile ways, and with continued pressure on the economy meaning CIOs need to be keeping infrastructure costs low and deliver on customer needs; Low Code has, for some CIOs, been a way to strike that difficult balance.
To discover and debate the opportunities Low Code and Digital Factory methods offer the CIO community you can join a Horizon CIO Podcast roundtable debate on June 12. You can register here. Or contact the Editor Mark Chillingworth via email or social media.