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 As well as being able to respond quickly to customer needs and business events, organisations have to be agile to survive.

Cloud technologies, and particularly rapid app development platforms like Salesforce App Cloud, can help both IT and business employees build their own apps and deliver agility across the organisation.

In his report, The 10 Dimensions Of Business Agility, Craig Le Clair, Forrester Research Principal Analyst, says, “An agile enterprise embraces change as a matter of routine, whether that change is driven by market trends or is internal and operational; it reacts more quickly to both threats and opportunities. Agile companies enable decisions to be made quickly at lower levels in the organisation. Leaders concentrate on building this culture over day-to-day decision-making.”

Agility comes down to empowering the workforce and putting customers and mobile first. Both customers and employees are increasingly turning to mobile technologies, preferring their smartphones and tablets to traditional desktops and even laptops. People are choosing to interact with their data - and each other - wherever they are, and whenever they desire.

Mobile meets this desire for agility, with consumers being able to research, buy and interact with service firms and vendors when, where and how they choose to.

As for workers, mobile enables them to access information, make business decisions and communicate with teams flexibly and remotely, in and out of office hours.

IT leaders are recognising this trend, according to Salesforce Research’s State of IT Report, which surveyed more than 2,200 global IT leaders and CIOs.

The survey found that the world’s top companies are accelerating their plans to meet the demands of mobile and connected customers. “Nearly 90% of new apps launching in the next 12–18 months will be created with a mobile-first mindset,” says the report.

Brown-Forman, which produces beverages including Jack Daniels and Finlandia, is an example of a company that has chosen to focus on mobile in order to create agility in the business. In the past few years, the world-leading beverage firm replaced more than 50 applications using Salesforce App Cloud, including building a mobile, social intranet that connects 4,400 employees across the world.

Toby Lester, VP of Technology, Architecture and Innovation at Brown-Forman, says, “If you’re going to continue to help your company grow, you need to be agile. Force.com allows us to quickly build something and get it in front of somebody, and then iterate on it rapidly.”

With tools like the Lightning App Builder, non-technical users can quickly using point & click visual tools and responsive templates, and this webinar shows you How to Build an App in 20 minutes. Salesforce’s Lightning Components can be ‘dragged-and-dropped’, as standard out-of-the-box components from Salesforce; or custom components you can build yourself; or third-party components from the Salesforce App Exchange.

The apps themselves can represent a workflow, for example, a customer service activity such as billing; or an HR operation such as employee on-boarding; or a product inspection routine for use on the factory floor.

With Lightning Components, users can construct apps for smart phones or tablets and even build complex workflows using Lightning Process Builder without having to write a line of code. Components operate independently, meaning changes can be made to single components versus the whole app, and changes to the layout and appearance of apps is just a matter of drag & drop.

Finally, the business users themselves can deploy their app across the organisation in a couple of clicks.

Not only do tools such as Lightning App Builder allow technical and non-technical users to create and roll out apps quickly, it represents unprecedented agility. This is because the end-user - who is in the best position to understand what they do and why they do it - is the one defining their own workflows, and those of their teams.

Through this combination of app democracy and ‘customer self-service’, the workforce is able to raise its own levels of productivity and responsiveness.

As well as catering for mobile users, agility also comes down to having apps that can listen to event data from your products, devices, web sites, customers or Internet-of-Things sensors, and take intelligent and timely actions.

This is something that Salesforce App Cloud can offer businesses: the ability to connect up business data across the organisation, in order to create value from it.

Eurostar replaced its legacy intranet with a modern social community built on Salesforce technology, which means that when service disruptions occur, Eurostar’s team of 1,800 employees can communicate real-time information and post photos, from any device.

With initiatives like this, Eurostar, Brown-Forman and many others are pioneering business agility, using cloud apps to bring flexibility and efficiency across their organisations.