In 2021, the number of mobile app downloads rose to a staggering 230 billion — a 63% increase from 2016. When the competition is this fierce, how do you stand out in a very crowded market with an app that is unique and meets users' high expectations?


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While most organizations want to launch new digital services, more than three out of four are struggling to deliver an optimized mobile experience. There are many reasons for this – from difficulties integrating new systems with legacy tech stacks to developer shortages and a growing backlog of apps that need to be built and maintained.

To complicate matters, IT teams don’t have months or years to develop and maintain their customer-facing digital experiences. To truly compete, you need to be able to go to market fast and iterate on a dime.

Commercial off-the-shelf solutions (COTS) could be an option, but they lack flexibility and don’t integrate well with existing tech stacks. That’s why your organization should consider adopting a custom mobile app development strategy.

Custom development gives your organization the ability to differentiate your brand and leapfrog your competition. And contrary to what you might think, a custom development approach doesn’t have to take more time than an off-the-shelf solution.

More specifically, when you’re dealing with standard SaaS or COTS systems — even if they’re the best in class — they don’t change easily because they weren’t made with the peculiarities of businesses in mind. It will ultimately be more time-consuming and expensive to customize an off-the-shelf solution to your business than to build it.

With low-code platforms that leverage modern approaches like cloud-native architecture, AI-automated visual development, DevOps, built-in governance, and application lifecycle management, the build versus buy paradigm has changed. Building software is no longer the complex and expensive task that it once was with traditional development.

Despite a shortage of time and talent, here’s how Western Union transformed its legacy systems and ushered in a new digital banking app for customers with more services and more convenience powered by low-code.

Example of Custom Mobile App Development Strategy with Low-Code: Western Union

Western Union operates in an increasingly competitive, rapidly changing money transfer services sector. To stay competitive with new fintech players, the 170-year-old global company needed a customized, customer-facing mobile app that could scale to millions of users across numerous languages and currencies — and still perform brilliantly.

But building quality, custom mobile apps quickly requires large investments in specialized talent, tools, and processes. And Western Union, like many organizations, was feeling the squeeze of the developer talent shortage. Some of its teams had experienced a 100-percent attrition rate over the past three years.

To empower its existing skeleton crew of developers and accelerate the launch of the company’s brand-distinguishing digital banking experience, Western Union turned to a high-performance, low-code platform. (Read the full story.)

High-performance low-code rose to the challenge by improving developer productivity, promoting elite-level CI/CD, and empowering teams to deliver unique, high-value, complex apps fast.

Why Low-Code Excels in Custom Mobile App Development

So, if like Western Union, you’re considering how to create a custom mobile app development strategy, here’s why you should go with high-performance low-code:

  1. Easy integration with existing tech stack. Western Union migrated its on-prem IT infrastructure to a new cloud-based architecture based on microservices that allow it to integrate many different systems quickly. With low-code, they gain plug-and-play convenience to integrate any technology, current or future.
  2. Speed of development. Rapid iteration is crucial when you’re designing customer-facing apps in countries with varying regulatory requirements. With visual development, fully customizable UX/UI templates, and component reusability, low-code helped Western Union develop its new money transfer app in a fraction of the time of traditional coding.
  3. Ease of deployment. With one-click deployment, built-in governance, and application lifecycle management, low-code enables Western Union to deliver updates in a matter of days.
  4. “Before OutSystems, we typically released every six weeks. With OutSystems, we deploy twice every week. Some changes that used to take a month, we now deliver in around 48 hours.”
    – Tom Mazzaferro, Chief Data and Innovation Officer, Western Union
  5. Faster time to market with existing resources. With low-code, the Western Union team estimates it gets new products to market twice as fast as competitors and uses one-tenth the resources – a huge advantage given the challenge of hiring experienced developers. Because the team is using visual low-code development that’s self-documenting, they’re able to hire less experienced developers and move faster with a leaner team.
  6. Pixel-perfect outcomes at any scale. Western Union’s goal is to give its millions of customers the best possible experience, which requires deploying unique apps that are fast to load, scalable, and secure. Using a high-performance low-code platform gives Western Union peace of mind: it will perform as brilliantly for 1 million customers as it does for 10 or 100 million.

Build Custom Mobile Apps Faster with OutSystems

With OutSystems — the low-code leader, according to Gartner — your organization can build tailor-made, pixel-perfect apps faster with the team you already have — without compromising on quality, scalability, and security. Learn more about creating unique customer portals and mobile apps with OutSystems.