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Technology may well be an agency for business transformation, but speed is the key ingredient for meeting customer and employee expectations. Moving fast is key to gaining competitive advantage in today’s business landscape.

Over time, there has been a functional shift In terms of what IT is expected to deliver: it's no longer a question of big versus small, but fast versus slow.

The old way of doing things was centred on monolithic architectures; sprawling server estates, and enterprise-wide business software platforms.

Today’s IT is all about giving businesses a speed advantage. When the IT organisation enables the business to meet the needs of all departments quickly, that’s when technology acts successfully as a catalyst for business change and growth.

Businesses need to move faster than ever before, and by responding to user demands as they arise, IT can support transformation more effectively. Successful organisations are achieving this through cloud, mobile and rapid app development.

Traditional IT, however, was not renowned for its speed and agility. In years gone by, IT teams would lock themselves away for twelve months or more, carefully managing every stage of application delivery before lengthy user acceptance testing and an eventual roll-out. 

Those days are gone now, as expectation levels from the business demand it, and IT needs a platform that will let them deliver apps in weeks versus months, or even years.

Salesforce Research surveyed more than 2,200 global IT leaders and CIOs for its 2016 State of IT Report, which found that: “72% of high-performing companies can develop an app in three months or less”. The report also says, “Nearly 90% of new apps launching in the next 12–18 months will be created with a mobile-first mindset.”

Companies need to factor in the concept of minimal viable product, and iterative design, in order to shorten time to market or time to value. This means that, in the new app economy, it’s now alright to release an imperfect software product in order to meet a time-critical business need or objective. You can then improve it on an ongoing basis using continuous feedback, rapidly iterating new releases on the fly.

The older model relied on the organisation or software vendor producing a single, completed version of an application, and putting time aside whenever they needed to install a significant update or security patch.

Today’s users expect their apps to update themselves seamlessly, and in almost unnoticed fashion, and to get better and better over time.

This is liberating for IT teams who can focus on rapid application development, and delivering the right tools into the hands of their business users. It’s also liberating for line of business departments, particularly when they use an app creation platform such as Salesforce App Cloud.

With App Cloud it’s possible for non-technical employees to build apps quickly without writing a single line of code, using visual drag-and-drop tools such as Lightning App Builder and Lightning Process Builder.

Lightning App Builder offers a library of reusable, well-defined components that can be combined with components developed in-house and components from 3rd parties on the Salesforce App Exchange. The user can brand and customise their app for smartphones and tablets, and deploy it across the business in just a few clicks.

As a result, App Cloud can help deliver cutting-edge, customer-driven applications that meet key business needs such as worker productivity, data visibility, and automating business processes.

The retailer Ocado uses App Cloud for rapid app development of its critical apps, and says the platform delivers on its promise of speed. Paul Clarke, Director of Technology at Ocado, says it took just six weeks to learn how to use App Cloud and build the first three apps from scratch.

Ocado is using the Salesforce App Cloud to transform the productivity of their employees to ultimately provide a greater level of service to their customers.

Ocado is committed to leading innovation in both customer-facing and internal application development. Not content with disrupting the groceries market, Ocado is turning its attention to its own internal and supply chain infrastructures. Paul said, “Now we’re looking at disrupting ourselves and being our own worst enemy!”

Rapid cloud/mobile app development holds the answer to business speed and agility, as you can see from this example.

And by harnessing the power of the app to respond to user demands quickly, whether the user is an employee or a customer, IT leaders are in a great position to support transformation in their organisation.