The Move Toward Modern Application Platforms

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1 A Custom Technology Adoption Profile Commissioned By Appian December 2014 The Move Toward Modern Application Platforms Introduction Most businesses urgently need to deliver custom applications and lots of them. However, the established application development and delivery techniques and platforms for custom apps are too slow and error-prone to keep up with business demands. Why? Established platforms rely too much on coding and practices ill-suited to rapid development. Business leaders want software pros to implement new initiatives in working software within days or weeks and make improvements, updates, and expansions just as quickly. These demands are driving both radically new development techniques and application platforms designed for experimentation, fast initial delivery, and quick updates. In November 2014, Appian commissioned Forrester Consulting to examine the hypothesis that traditional application development methods and platforms are being replaced by continuous delivery techniques and modern application platforms, including cloud platforms. This study of IT managers and business directors evaluates current trends, challenges, and benefits related to the adoption of modern application development platforms within enterprise organizations with over $1 billion in revenue in the US. The study also includes data from Forrester s Business Technographics surveys of application development professionals.

2 1 Preference For Custom Apps Is Increasing Businesses rely heavily on applications for day-today operations, and evidence suggests they need much more software to support growth. We find that IT departments have shifted to prioritizing growth, rather than cost cutting, and have expanded use of custom software development to gain competitive distinction in their markets (see Figure 1). Businesses have two choices when implementing new applications: 1) build an application or 2) buy an application. Forrester s data shows that 59% of IT respondents from enterprise-size organizations are more motivated to custom-develop applications than buy standardized applications because it allows them to develop the specific functionality they need, which, they find, isn t available in any purchased software package (see Figure 2). Ultimately, this hints that the demands for custom software are likely to grow, moderating the trend of the last decade toward buying software rather than building it. FIGURE 2 Custom Application Development Provides Benefits What are your firm s motivations for developing business applications instead of buying packaged/standardized applications? (Top five responses shown) Get the required functionality, which is not available from 59% any software vendor Create a unique customer experience and engagement with 50% customers, partners, and employees Protect our intellectual property and competitive position Achieve a competitive advantage in our internal operations (systems of records) Lower our total cost of ownership (TCO), as packaged software is too expensive for many tasks 38% 34% 34% Base: 217 IT respondents from enterprise-size organizations in the US and Canada Source: Forrester's Business Technographics Global Software Survey, 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. FIGURE 1 Custom Development And SaaS Are On The Rise As IT Organizations Seek To Meet Business Requirements Which of the following initiatives are likely to be your IT organization s top project and organizational priorities over the next 12 months? Critical priority High priority Low priority Not on our agenda Support business requirements and corporate growth Update/modernize key legacy applications Increase our use of software-as-a-service Consolidate or rationalize enterprise applications Use custom development for better business support and/or differentiation 47% 46% 5% 1% 41% 49% 9% 1% 26% 46% 22% 6% 28% 46% 21% 5% 13% 37% 36% 14% 23% 42% 29% 6% 18% 47% 27% 7% 18% 50% 24% 7% 15% 39% 33% 11% 20% 45% 27% 7% Base: 798 () and 605 () IT respondents from enterprise-size organizations in the US and Canada Source: Forrsights Software Survey, Q4, Forrester Research, Inc. and Forrsights Software Survey, Q4, Forrester Research, Inc.

3 2 Businesses Have Unreasonable Expectations For Delivery Of Custom Software Business leaders expect IT departments to deliver both new and updated applications quickly often within days to meet business needs. As the pressure mounts for development teams to deliver applications that meet everevolving business needs, developers find themselves in a difficult situation, striving to deliver at speed but also with high quality and within budget and scope. Survey respondents indicated that fast cycle times and meeting project measures of schedule, scope, and budget are the top demands placed on them by business leaders (see Figure 3). Satisfying all of these demands at the same time is very tough to achieve, and development teams must look beyond their traditional practices and environments if they want to have a shot at meeting these unreasonable demands. INCREASED USAGE OF CLOUD PLATFORMS WILL SPEED UP DELIVERY A popular response among developers is to switch to public cloud platforms for their projects. In Forrester s 2014 survey of developers, respondents indicated they chose the cloud because it provides the fastest way to complete and deliver projects, and it is a popular environment with developers. There has also been a year-over-year rise in developers wanting Java support, which suggests cloud has penetrated into large enterprises (which favor Java) or spread beyond Web 2.0 developers to a broader base or both, meaning that cloud tailors to a wider skillset of developers and therefore offers more flexibility for development (see Figure 4). FIGURE 4 Cloud Environments Provide Faster Delivery Speed Of Custom Projects Why did your development team choose the cloud environments that you currently use? (Top five responses shown) Fastest way for me to get my project done and deployed Is popular with many developers Java support Was a comprehensive development environment Corporate mandate or standard 16% 19% 19% 23% 23% 26% 26% 30% 29% 30% Base: 64 cloud developers from enterprise organizations in the US and Canada 2014* *Base: 35 cloud developers from enterprise organizations in the US and Canada Source: Forrsights Developer Survey, Q1, Forrester Research, Inc. *Source: Forrester's Business Technographics Global Developer Survey, 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. FIGURE 3 Developers Face Challenges Meeting Demand For Faster Delivery Without Sacrificing Scope Or Budget What are the top demands placed on your application development group by business leaders? Faster cycle times Development project 58% 46% Meeting schedule, scope, and budget Base: 50 IT and business directors involved with business application development decisions Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Appian, November 2014

4 3 The Barriers Are Apparent, Yet Solutions Aren t Obvious Development teams are starting to look at alternative development options and strategies to keep projects on schedule and on budget, but they are just beginning. Most seem to agree on the barriers to application delivery progress, but we find little consensus on solutions to overcome those barriers. Our custom survey shows the top barrier to building custom software is long development cycles. Lack of funding was ranked as the second largest barrier. The results showcase a situation in which developers are looking at the macro view when it comes to barriers rather than specific, process-level barriers. Respondents cited cycle times and budgets as the key barriers, yet they appear unaware of or unfocused on other factors that can compromise application delivery such as platform complexity and silos and lack of development talent, both of which ranked as much lower priorities (see Figure 5). Development platforms for mobile applications are becoming an acute silo problem. Many mobile platforms only support mobile applications, while most enterprises need applications that not only use mobile as a user experience channel, but also web browsers and sometimes other channels as well. Mobile-only platforms can t support omnichannel requirements. Having to build the same app simultaneously on several platforms is inefficient and burdensome to development teams, as all changes, testing, and deployments must be implemented across mutiple platforms rather than just one. When looking at possible strategies to overcoming these custom application delivery barriers, many developers (52%) view raising budgets as the top solution, demonstrating the same broad and less granular focus that we see with the barriers to application delivery progress. It is unlikely that companies are going to raise the budgets, so while that would be an easy fix (bearing in mind as well that even if they did increase spend, required skills remain in short supply), it is not a realistic solution. With budget top of mind, it further iterates the point that potential solutions in reorganizing work, adopting Agile and continuous practices, and shifting to productive platforms aren t yet well appreciated as viable strategies (see Figure 6). FIGURE 5 Developers Focused On Long Project Life Cycle Rather Than Components Of It Such As Platforms And Talent What are the top barriers to your organization building the custom software it needs? Please rank them, with 1 being the most challenging barrier. Our development life cycle takes too long (e.g., requirements, coding, testing, deployment) Rank 1 Rank 2 Rank 3 24% 16% 8% Lack of funding 22% 16% 10% Too many urgent business priorities end up in the application backlog 20% 18% 18% Our development platforms require too much manual effort (e.g., coding and infrastructure configuration) Our development platforms are too siloed (e.g., separate platforms for ERP, web, and mobile apps) 8% 10% 6% We can't find the development talent we need 4% 8% 12% 16% 16% 8% Base: 50 IT and business directors involved with business application development decisions Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Appian, November 2014

5 4 FIGURE 6 New Strategies Around Development Teams And Processes Show Promise What are the best strategies for your organization to overcome its custom application delivery barriers? Raise budgets for custom applications 52% Likely false hope Dedicate development teams to projects 44% Organize development processes for faster delivery 42% Process/practice enablers of progress Use platforms and tools to reduce the skill required to deliver applications Use platforms that can address multiple app types (e.g., both web and mobile) Use platforms employing visual tooling/modeling/ test and deployment automation to speed delivery 24% 28% 32% Undervalued platform opportunities Base: 50 IT and business directors involved with business application development decisions Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Appian, November 2014 In these findings, the apparent underappreciation of the opportunities that new platforms present is striking. However, respondents ranked an emphasis on dedicated project teams and reorganizing processes as the second and third best solutions to overcoming the barriers of custom development, and both of these solutions are enablers of positive change. As development teams initiate these changes, they set the stage for their shift to platforms that enable Agile, Lean, and continuous delivery practices, which will better enable developers to meet business needs in a time- and cost-efficent manner and with greater transparency. The opportunities that platforms can offer are substantial and support corporate objectives in a mobile business world, but platforms require broader attention and adoption to be effective. In order to provide development teams with the capabilites needed to meet changing business needs, these new platforms must have the following characteristics: Quick deployment of environments as needed for development, testing, and production. This is ideally done through cloud instances. Visual, model-based, and automated tooling to speed all aspects of application development. Easy integration with all relevant data sources. Full life-cycle support. Easy updating and change management. Availability of cloud and on-premises deployments. Compatibility with multiple app types (web and mobile) to eliminate need for multiple builds of the same app in separate platforms.

6 5 Conclusion The expectation for development teams to respond to business needs quickly is the new norm. Meeting new demands for custom software development under the old development models is not only inefficient, but near impossible given the current level of development resources available at most organizations. With delivery speed as the most common barrier to meeting business needs, development teams need to take a deeper look at understanding what components of the delivery process can be improved, such as using new platforms and adopting new development practices, rather than just demanding more budget. As companies focus on staffing their development teams and reorganizing their development processes and tools, development teams will be much better suited to deliver custom software applications at a rate and quality that is beneficial to the business. Methodology This Technology Adoption Profile was commissioned by Appian. To create this profile, Forrester leveraged its Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 ; Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 ; Business Technographics Global Software Survey, 2014; Business Technographics Global Developer Survey, 2014; and Forrsights Developer Survey, Q1. Forrester Consulting supplemented this data with custom survey questions asked of IT and business professionals involved with application platform management and development from organizations with $1 billion or more in revenue. Survey respondents involved were at the manager level or higher for IT respondents and at the director level or higher for business respondents. The auxiliary custom survey was conducted in November For more information on Forrester s data panel and Tech Industry Consulting services, visit ABOUT FORRESTER CONSULTING Forrester Consulting provides independent and objective research-based consulting to help leaders succeed in their organizations. Ranging in scope from a short strategy session to custom projects, Forrester s Consulting services connect you directly with research analysts who apply expert insight to your specific business challenges. For more information, visit forrester.com/consulting. 2014, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester, Technographics, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. For additional information, go to 1-S2Q4QG

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