Software Development Struggles to Keep Pace with the Speed of Business
The pace of contemporary business is increasingly demanding, and it’s a pace that traditional software development can’t match. Applications simply can’t be developed quickly enough, updated often enough, or maintained well enough to deliver organizations with the effective and scalable tools they need. Something has to give—they’re either developed too slowly or they’re developed so quickly that they’re inadequate, incomplete, laden with bugs, and prone to security vulnerabilities.
Business simply continues to outpace traditional software — leaving companies ill equipped to innovate and ultimately compete in their respective industries. TrackVia aims to help businesses navigate this rapidly changing software landscape. This is the first in a series of small reports by TrackVia on the current state of internal business application development.
THE CURRENT STATE OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Many businesses rely on a staggering number of critical applications in order to support their operations and drive success. Recent research from The Ponemon Institute with application security vendor Prevoty found that over half (57 percent) of enterprises have between 1,000 and 5,000 business applications. Additionally, CEB research found that more than three quarters of business professionals agreed that quick delivery by IT is a critical part of meeting business goals. But there’s a problem: quick delivery is increasingly undermined, not only by a growing demand for the development of new or improved business solutions, but also by the need for maintenance of a multitude of legacy applications. Additional research by Prevoty found that half of IT professionals say they can only update an application once in a one to six month period. This is causing a growing IT backlog, amounting to an increase of 29 percent in the past 18 months alone¹. Furthermore, according to Gartner by the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them.
• The IT backlog has increased 29 percent in the last 18 months²
• By 2017, the demand for mobile apps will grow 5 times faster than IT can deliver them³
The problem is only heightened by a shortage of development talent that’s plaguing business of all sizes. A recent InformationWeek survey indicated that 73 percent of respondents at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, and 88 percent of respondents at larger companies, feel challenged by shortage in critical development talent. It’s a shortage that only further impedes an organization’s ability to respond to the demands already weighing down on IT departments.
Additional research by Prevoty found that 74 percent of IT pros think that the deployment schedule of their software is so demanding that it keeps them from focusing on important concerns like security. This demonstrates that software is either being developed too slowly to keep up with the demands of businesses, or it is being developed quickly but poorly—often lacking in security as a result. Neither of these two scenarios set companies up to win in today’s complex and competitive business era.
SOLUTIONS THAT LEAD TO PROBLEMS
The rise of cloud and SaaS technologies may solve some of those issues, but even these solutions fail to adapt readily to the individual needs of businesses. Often, they can’t be modi ed quickly enough to adjust to constantly changing operational needs. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75 percent of application purchases supporting digital business will belong to the “build, not buy” category. This means that companies will steer away from out-of-the-box solutions that aren’t individualized to their needs, but are instead a combination of different application components, professional services, and other solutions.
The lack of adequate software support is driving professionals to use their own applications to streamline their work, which opens the door for security vulnerabilities, as organizations and IT teams have less control and visibility into the applications that employees are using.
According to TrackVia’s research:
• 52 percent of employees admit that they use outside apps to support their work
• 52 percent of employees want an easier way to work and think a BYOA or BYOD policy would make it easier to do their job
Reasons employees use their own apps and tools for work:
• 41 percent: the tools their company provides don’t meet their needs percent: their company’s tools are outdated
• 33 percent: their company’s tools are outdated
• 67 percent of IT managers know that their employees are using outside apps and tools to do their work
WILL YOUR ORGANIZATION’S DEVELOPMENT KEEP PACE?
SAP SE’s CFO, Luke Mucic, has estimated that the pace of organizational software development cycle is four times faster than it was a few years ago. This is a trend that’s showing no signs of slowing, but enterprises still haven’t landed on the solution to help them move at this pace.
For example, enterprise resource planning was once a process that took years to implement, but Luke Mucic stated that, “Eight-year implementations simply don’t work anymore…the demand is for quick time to value,” and we couldn’t agree more.
When looking to mitigate the amount of time it takes to develop software that works efficiently for your organization, there’s no one place you can look to stop the bleeding. You have to take a comprehensive approach and look at:
• Whether you’re employing the right solutions. Are you relying on one-size-fits-all software that can’t be customized to your unique business processes or that take too much time to implement, deploy, and maintain? While these solutions may seem ideal or cost effective at the outset, consider the amount of internal resources inefficiently consumed due to long or difficult deployment of applications or the time that’s lost in trying to make your business fit the software, not vice versa.
• Whether BYOD policies are a help or a hindrance. While BYOD policies may provide a boost in employee productivity in the short term, understand that you’re losing visibility into and control over the devices, tools, and data that drive your business.
• Whether you have the best talent in place. Skilled IT talent is in high demand and short supply. Hiring someone without the skill or experience to drive development may seem like the fastest option, but in the long term, this may ultimately lead to slower development, slower time to market, and inefficient processes.
• Whether you’re sacrificing security for speed of development. Faster development cycles often come at the expense of secure solutions and can leave you exposed to vulnerabilities that put your business at risk, and that wind up costing more time down the road when vulnerabilities and attacks need to be addressed.
It’s hard to put an accurate dollar figure on the cost of lost or wasted time. In a business world that shows no signs of slowing, time is the most expensive and valuable resource throughout almost any organization. Slow execution alone can drive the failure of even the best laid plans.
After all, as they say, “Time is money.” Failing to address the problems that are leading to slow development and inefficient and unsecure software solutions is going to lead to a tremendous hit to businesses’ profitability and will hinder companies’ ability to maintain a sustained competitive advantage in their respective industries.