CIOs have lost the confidence of the business because they are seen to be unresponsive in delivering the infrastructure and applications that the business feels they must have to be competitive. In the last 5-10 years, the business users’ experience of what a great technology UX feels like, and what applications are capable of doing is shaped by their experiences as consumers. And that colors the business user’s expectations.
Over the last 2-3 years, the CIOs’ pain has got worse as now they are being judged against enterprise apps that are being launched in the cloud, with very compelling price points, truly elegant UXs, and very easy onboarding. So CIOs recognize that they cannot stand as gatekeeper. With the cloud it is too easy for business users to fly under IT’s radar and start using cloud apps without the permission, support or knowledge of the CIO.
Enter the low-code app builders
Low-code app vendors are targeting the LOB user. They promise rapid development of robust apps deployed onto any device. And, rapid means days not weeks.
The extraordinarily development speed is achieved by very visual tools for designing the process, drag and drop WYSIWG screen builders with reusable templates for the different devices, and pre-built connectors into the core enterprise applications. But also a different mindset when building the app: think “disposable apps”.
The speed of development, often less than a day from user requirement to first cut of the app, is encouraging an iterative design approach: get something out and cycle until you get it right. It also means that smaller short term disposable apps can be built and still get a positive ROI. Before the cost of internal IT development to solve a small problem was too great. Now, many more problems can be solved by small, rapidly built apps.
Opportunity on both sides of the table
Rather than look at the downside, this could be seen as a huge opportunity. The CIO could support the business units and use a low-code app builder to start to reduce the backlog of projects.
Clearly not all projects can be delivered this way. But it will also build some bridges between IT and the business. However, this cannot be seen by the business as a way for the CIO to muscle in and control or shutdown these activities. Any whiff of that and it will drive the development underground.
The business should see this as a chance to leverage the CIO’s team to build apps that are more integrated into core data. But they need to think about when and how they approach the CIO: just after a representative app has proven to be a success. It is far better to engage the CIO – at the right time – than remain black-ops hoping you are not discovered.
So, at last the CIO could look like a rock star in the eyes of the business user.