In a world in which the customer experience is the chief driver of business value and competitive differentiation, we need to look at the process of application development with fresh eyes.
I wrote my first application when I was a young boy. It was a banking application — well, sort of.
My simple application (written on a Commodore 64!) kept track of Monopoly banking transactions. It was a simple register of how much money each of four players had in the bank. Select the player, select debit or credit, and enter an amount.
But my application had a problem — it was too fast.
When you entered a transaction, the balances were updated immediately. It didn’t act like the ATMs (which were just becoming common), which took several long seconds to process a transaction.
So, I fixed it.
I added a wait statement into my code and a little screen that said, “Processing…Please wait…” after a transaction had been initiated. Now it looked just like a real-world application!
While this anecdote is one of childhood folly, it is also reflective of the way we have developed applications in enterprise organizations up to this point.
Of course, no development team ever added wait statements to deliberately make their applications slower; but as an industry, we have been guilty of focusing on the mechanics of producing an application and doing so from the perspective of business optimization — rather than from a customer experience point of view.
Today, however, that perspective is insufficient.
In a world in which the customer experience is the chief driver of business value and competitive differentiation – and in which an organization’s applications create much of that experience – we need to look at the process by which organizations conceive, create and deploy applications with fresh eyes.
In fact, there are five specific ways that we need to think about applications differently.
Organizations have historically used applications to automate business processes and make them more efficient. That was essential when process optimization was a primary driver of business value.
Today, however, it is the customer experience that is the predominant driver of competitive value for an organization. As such, enterprises must pivot their application development efforts to a focus on optimizing the customer experience during every interaction with the organization — what we refer to as the customer journey.
Moreover, organizations must look to technology advances, such as the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), to infuse predictive capabilities into every interaction and every aspect of the customer engagement. This focus on the customer journey and the use of intelligence to enhance it will be essential to building successful applications in the future.
It has come into vogue to talk about the customer experience and the customer journey. But while they are important ideas, they’re also somewhat abstract.
A customer’s journey is the compilation of their experiences with us. And each experience is made up of a series of interactions — or customer engagements.
The primary paradigm from which you develop applications today must be the customer engagement. Everything should center around that interaction, and the experience it creates or supports.
Everything else, including your business processes, should be subservient to delivering an exceptional experience through each engagement (more on this next). And, just as we saw in the customer journey, you should be exploring how you can use AI and analytics to make every engagement more efficient and to create a ‘wow’ moment for your customer.
As I alluded to a moment ago, part of this shift in thinking is breaking free from the tyranny of process!
Ok, that may be overstating things a bit. Process is important and will remain so, but there has been too great a focus on business process when it comes to application development. In fact, most development efforts start with a business process model or flow that the application then automates.
The problem, however, is that customer interactions are rarely that controllable. They engage with us on their terms. The business process orientation is all about how the organization operates rather than the customer’s engagement with us — and that needs to change.
Moreover, a customer’s engagement often cuts across processes as organizations developed those processes to make their operations more efficient. These processes, however, do not often line up with the way a customer chooses to engage with us. .
The reality is that the process flow is not a very intuitive way to think about most applications in the first place. Most customer interactions (or employee and partner interactions, for that matter) don’t operate in this nice, linear fashion that a process flow implies.
There is another way to think about how to structure applications: through the concept of activities, constraints, and dependencies.
If that sounds a lot like how you might structure a project, you’re right.
If you think about a customer engagement, you will find that it operates in much the same way as a mini-project. To complete a business process or transaction, there are often several activities that must occur. Some are dependent on others. Some operate independently, but with constraints.
This paradigm changes how you think about application development. The bonus? It is inherently more engagement-focused and is often more intuitive for business stakeholders.
The last way to think differently about building applications may be the most controversial: forget about writing code to create them.
Application development has long been synonymous with writing code. , per se.
Instead, the value organizations derive from their applications come from their intimate knowledge of their customers, their business processes, and their industry. Historically, the only way to capture that knowledge was by hand-coding applications.
Today’s generation of low-code development platforms, however, are changing this paradigm. These platforms offer organizations the ability to create custom, enterprise-class application suites while writing little-to-no code.
We have entered a new era of application development. It represents a fundamental shift away from a focus on process optimization and automation to applications that, instead, optimize the customer experience along every step of their journey with you.
This new paradigm demands that you cast aside your preconceptions about what it means to develop an application and, instead, embrace these five new ways of thinking about them.
It also demands that you change the way you look at the tools you use to ‘develop’ this new breed of application. Taking a fresh perspective should include evaluating new tools, such as Process Director from BP Logix, that were created to support this new approach to building applications.
Your customers (and employees and partners) want to engage with you on their terms. To build applications that will create the experience they want and expect from you, you’ll to need to think differently.
Copyright © Intellyx LLC. BP Logix is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.