06 Mar 2017

Why RAD is Right for Mobile and Web Front-End Development

Digitalising the customer journey requires front-end touchpoints that are easy to use, attractive, and full featured. The explosion of mobility has transformed the way customers are interacting with companies. To remain competitive, customer-facing applications have to be deployed fast and continuously iterated.
The customer journey has gone digital
In order to achieve digitalization in today’s rapidly changing landscape, IT must fundamentally change the way applications are built and delivered. End users (employees, customers and partners) are expecting an easier way to access and interact with technology. Subsequently, the demand for highly complex, easy-to-use but secure apps will weigh heavily on IT teams
Further, rapid evolution in the web and mobile space has dramatically impacted the delivery time of applications, which adds pressure on IT teams to race against time. Users of these apps also expect an attractive UI, a low learning curve and an intuitive app that performs essential business functions.
Finally, an IT department will have its own requirement for the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) or the process of development, delivery and management of applications must happen in an agile way. App users will always have a plethora of requests from simple additions, like adding a form field, to a completely reorganised customer engagement process. To avoid complete breakdown in productivity of the IT team, the application management process must accommodate any kind of change, large or small. Even if the department outsources mobile app production and delivery, it’s critically important to have a lifecycle process that is agile; completely supporting the organisation’s databases and other systems.
Organisations today have “…crushing and very heavy demands on application development and delivery professionals to deliver software faster.” –
John Rymer – Forrester Research
A need for speed (ease of use, and intelligence)
How fast do applications need to be devel-oped and delivered? The average expected time frame today is between 10-16 weeks. For some very complex applications, the period could extend by a few more weeks, but generally this is the time frame business users are expecting apps to be delivered by. Delivering applications six months or a year from the initial request is almost redundant in today’s adoption rate of technology. Can existing IT frameworks deliver applications in weeks that are highly complex, easy to use, quick and easy to change, and managable?
Autoliv is the world’s largest automotive safety supplier.
Autoliv on building applications with a legacy stack:
“We’ve built applications internally and struggled. It just took forever and became harder and harder to change. The apps didn’t scale well they might be ok for departmental applications, but attempting to scale it to a global operation all  over the world never worked well and it was difficult to maintain performance over a broader scale
Existing frameworks don’t address new requirements
The short answer is probably not. Here’s why: whether IT departments are operating with a legacy stack or have modernised to incorporate an open source framework, they are still not able to meet every request for the revitalised customer journey.
Legacy Stacks
Legacy stacks are, unfortunately, the dinosaurs of the app development world. They represent a thorough production process of applications, solidly built by hand-coding, and cemented with “once-and-for-all” integrations which use monolithic systems. They also make rapid app development and delivery nearly impossible (or possible, but prohibitively expensive) Using agile methodology along with a legacy framework does not typically deliver the speed required in today’s app delivery market.
Open source stacks
On the other side, if IT teams have embraced a more modern open source IT stack, such as MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js and Angular.js, Node.js), it’s quite possible to build applications rapidly and in an agile manner. But now instead of attempting to force a slow, legacy framework to produce quickly, users of a MEAN stack have to deal with continual maintenance of applications. Quite often, this iterative process is broken because good developers don’t want to get stuck forever updating an already deployed app. If the lifecycle can’t be maintained, then the agile methodology is fundamentally broken. What’s the use of creating apps quickly if they can’t be iterated easily?All in all, the primary challenges for adopting an open source stack to deliver apps are complex. Some organisations may experience more significant struggles over others, depending on the current level of a company’s digitalisation of front-end processes. Typically though, the critical pain points in adopting an open source stack revolve around:
Setting up the initial stack
It can be difficult to acquire the right team of developers who understand most, if not all, components of the application architecture, along with knowledge of each language that corresponds to the architecture component.
Integration of the stack within existing systems
No matter how modern an IT department claims to be, there will always be older systems of record or big monolithic databases that require certain levels of integration. Merging new fluid languages with old static systems can become a complex undertaking, that may prove difficult and time consuming.
Creating a continual pipeline of app production
If the entire app lifecycle isn’t handled quickly and efficiently from end to end then the stack is not really solving the essential requirements for building applications in today’s development landscape. Add that to the often immature agile processes in an organisation, and a completely broken delivery model arises.
In the end, creating a continual app pipeline is possible with an open system stack
but it’s not easy, and it could end up being quite costly in terms of time and management. Open source stacks do provide the opportunity to be more flexible than a traditional stack, but the application lifecycle suffers because it’s still not fast or flexible enough.
The conudrum
This situation puts IT leaders in a very difficult position. They are challenged with delivering the “holy grail” of applications that must be:
Highly usable Attractive with an intuitive user interface Agile, able to be rapidly changed Delivered fast (avg 10-16 weeks) Complex, handling in-depth business processes
Every time an app needs to be created, there is the common expectation that the final deliverable will contain most, if not all of these requests. How do IT architects utilise their current resources to offer continual delivery of highly functional apps that meet all these criteria?That’s where rapid application delivery platforms come in.
So what to do? Transform IT with a RAD platform
Rapid Application Delivery (or RAD) platforms offer what’s coined by Forrester as a “low-code” method of creating applications in an agile manner. RAD platforms give IT leaders the opportunity to use current skill sets and resources as well as integrate their existing systems. Developers can not only design whole portfolios of apps – but can develop, test, deploy, review, and manage them all in a fraction of the time of traditional approaches.
Since the full app lifecycle is accounted for with RAD platforms – the need for highly skilled resources from the IT department diminishes while the production and regular management of apps goes up. Going back to the “holy grail” of requirements, a quality RAD platform must meet each one. The question then turns from “DOES the platform meet each requirement?” to “HOW does the platform meet each one?”
A robust RAD platform offers the ability to optimise digital touchpoints
By utilising a robust RAD platform, workflows can be optimised to simplify the mashup of multiple systems in rich unified user interfaces. User adoption can be also optimised because the platform provides the dynamic ability to rapidly iterate on requests, rather than slowly hacking through underlying code or messing with the framework of an application.
Deeply complex applications are simplified when developing with a RAD platform
Enterprise level applications often require multiple and deep integrations with various databases or systems of engagement. A good platform handles the long tail of integrations – even if the system in question changes or updates its structure
ES Financial on speeding app delivery with a RAD plaform:
We’ve had on average, a 5x reduction in time to market for our applications. We’ve been able to simplify our development and deployment processes, as well as significantly improve our overall operations.
Developers get to spend time developing and taking pride in their work
A RAD platform frees up the IT teams’ time. Because there is minimal hand-coding involved and the drag and drop interface is easy to use, the team can spend more time creating applications that are not just functional but beautiful and intuitive to use.
Long delivery times become a thing of the past
Because a RAD platform offers automated deployment and continuous integration, app production and delivery become nearly immediate making delivery within a short time frame a reality. When examining a platform as a comprehensive toolset to provide an organisation with a method of rapidly producing quality applications, it’s easy to see how RAD platforms excel for supporting development from front-end through the back-end while integrating with the database/ integrations layer.
However, not all RAD tools are created equal. For starters, there are low-code tools that allow IT to develop applications – but not deliver them. A great app tool is one that can rapidly develop, deliver, and provide full application lifecycle management (ALM) within an organisation’s existing availability of people and resources.
But front-ends aren’t everything – back-ends are equally important
It’s commonly thought that “front-end development is the most important” when it comes to application development. However, when the continual application lifecycle is examined, the back-end processes need equal amounts of attention. Often, back-ends get redesigned to accommodate for the new customer journey and intuitive front-end applications. The business logic for an organization’s portfolio of apps must be fully examined to ensure that appropriate data is being served to the app user while also saving and storing incoming data for other uses within the application. RAD platforms provide a multi-layered approach where back-end processes are just as important to address when redesigning the customer journey. They help redesign current back-end operational processes, actually shifting digital transformation from “just a new set of apps” to a renewed end-to-end customer-centric operation and optimal user experience. Learn more about back-end optimization and why BPM’s are missing the mark.
Whether IT is ready for it or not, the customer journey is changing and users are demanding more from applications in less time. As your organisation puts consistent pressure on IT departments to meet these needs without increasing costs, it’s up to the leader to stay informed of the right methods and tools to help his team perform efficiently. A quality rapid application delivery tool can help address this set of issues facing IT today.

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About Rainmaker Labs

Rainmaker Labs Private Limited (BRN: 201107298M) is a venture capital backed technology company that has been live in operations since March 2011. Headquartered in sunny Singapore, we are a fast growing technology company specializing enterprise mobility solutions. By providing state of the art enterprise solutions to our clients, Rainmaker Labs is leading the way businesses use mobile solutions to interact with people, customers and partners.
Rainmaker Labs understands enterprise mobile technology and we leverage on our domain knowledge for our clients to take advantage of tremendous opportuni es within this space, enabling them to extend and extract addi onal value from their IT investments.
We at Rainmaker Labs pride ourselves in Research & Development – to ensure we provide cutting edge competitive advantages for our clients. Our emphasis on partnership and collaboration with our clients makes us the best fit for driving digital transformation.
To learn more about Rainmaker Labs, please visit us @ http://www.rainmaker-labs.com

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