It seems that as the market evolves and some of the old trends vanish in thin air, a new set of myths pops up and percolates throughout organizations big and small. So today, although we’re already a couple of months into 2015, I want to write about the top 5 app dev myths you should leave behind this year in order to be truly successful.
#1 – We don’t build anything, SaaS is enough!
I keep hearing companies say they don’t need to develop any app to address their business needs because they can find everything “off the shelf” through SaaS. What’s worse, they think that SaaS means they will have a fast time to market.
Although for very generic business processes (like payroll) this might be the case, the idea that SaaS can solve all your business needs without any customization is more than short-sighted – it’s almost delusional.
Every organization has a set of unique processes that set it apart from its competition (the so called “secret sauce.”) The fact that those processes are unique to the company means they cannot fit in any existing package, because it’s not an industry standard. What’s worse, SaaS packages can’t truly be customized, and at most, they provide limited parametrization capabilities. This means you won’t be able to fit your secret sauce anywhere, and you’ll end up with huge white spaces that don’t cover your processes. Therefore, there will always be a need to build custom applications and workflows that support those processes and the company’s innovation.
Another problem you might face is SaaS-sprawl. Continuing down the SaaS path creates a significant number of silos – and even if you can bend the SaaS to your will – you’re going to have a hard time weaving together all those silos.
If you support your business only with SaaS packages then you have nothing that differentiates you from your competition and you’ll probably stay stale forever, or worse case, go out of business.
#2 – My mobile partner is my marketing agency.
IT departments have been stretched for years, and the growth of mobile has just made things much, much worse. As a result, some business units have taken mobile into their own hands and decided they don’t need IT to create the mobile apps business users need. Because many of the first mobile app requests come from Marketing, for many the solution has been to outsource the development of these apps to existing marketing agencies. At first it makes sense, because these agencies are smart and staffed to deliver B2C apps for Marketing campaigns and brand awareness. In addition, Marketing departments have nice chubby budgets.
However, looking past Marketing and considering transactional B2B and B2E apps that business users need, agencies are generally not the way to go. Business typically need to integrate existing systems (SAP anyone?), and create workflows across departments, customers and partners. You don’t need one app to start with, you will need 10. And the budget you have will make any agency smirk at you. When it comes to enterprise mobile apps, the agency play is not the way.
Marketing agencies are not the solution to solve your enterprise mobile application needs (unless, of course, you’re a marketing agency).
#3 – DevOps in the Cloud is just about Ops in the cloud…
I’ve heard many IT folks saying they believe they can continue developing cloud applications using the same old development processes they have been using on-premises. If you do that, you’ll be losing on one of the biggest opportunities the cloud has to offer: the ability to evolve your app delivery process and embrace some DevOps principles.
The virtualization of your servers to the cloud opens the door for developers to extend their reach and work closer to operation teams in delivering better apps. For developers, the cloud changed the Release Management process and they can now have much more control and flexibility over the deployment process of their apps. As another example, cloud environments can make application logging information readily available to developers, which they can then use to identify app issues and work on improving the overall performance and usability of apps. In traditional on-premises environments that information was usually locked behind the operations team’s data-center realm – inaccessible to common developers.
Moving to the cloud and continuing with the old ways of development vs. operations is to limit the return on investment from the start. Not smart.
#4 – If the software delivered is big enough, it makes sense for the project to take two years.
This is so 1990s! The justification usually goes something like, “Hey, we are a big company with big responsibilities. It is common for a valuable software release to take forever.”
Turns out, IT gets surprised that the world did not stand still and those pesky business users changed their minds several times. For the sake of reason: a two-year project should be considered dead on arrival. Don’t even start it!
The tools (RAD and Productivity Platforms), the infrastructure (Cloud), and the delivery (Agile) have proven they work and that a two-year long project can be delivered in six months. These RAD projects can be effectively delivered with several iterations and with continuous user involvement – ensuring it is adopted and actually solves the intended business problem at “go live.”
Two-year projects are no longer acceptable, no matter how big your company is. Period!
#5 – Integration is much easier with everyone moving to REST APIs and most systems being SaaS.
That may be true for folks who never had to work with a REST API before. It’s definitely not true for people that need to build an app that is the composition of 17 (mostly external) systems each with an average 200 entry-point APIs. Things get even worse if you need to make sure that the SLAs of all those systems return their API responses fast (they don’t need caching) and reliably (they don’t need failover), so that they don’t impact the adoption of your portfolio of mobile and web apps. Good luck!
Integration continues to be one of the toughest challenges (and biggest failure points) of most IT projects, and REST APIs and SaaS are not the final solution yet.
How about you?
Have you seen other myths that make you want to slap someone in the face?
Share them in the comment section below.