The importance of speed and adjusting to customer needs

Businesses need to regularly assess the needs of clients and adjust before one’s competitors do.
Businesses need to regularly assess the needs of clients and adjust before one’s competitors do.
Businesses need to regularly assess the needs of clients and adjust before one’s competitors do.

With IT budgets under strain in a year of low growth, the priority of keeping the lights on in legacy systems may come at the expense of new applications which drive competitive advantage. Or has technology come to our rescue?

The basic rules of successful business engagement hasn’t changed much since early man discovered the benefits of bartering goods in a rough form of trade. Modern business owners still use this model: it’s about knowing what clients need and being able to deliver on these needs in exchange for profit.

While these rules remain static, business environments have become far more dynamic – and considerably faster. Think of it as shooting clay pigeons as they fly through the air. You need to adjust your sights and shoot just ahead of your target to make sure that as those clay discs move forward in their trajectory, your projectile is there to meet it head on…and you have to do it quickly. The business implication is that not only do you have to change your action – you have to change your strategy to meet rapidly changing demands. Not only do you need speed, you need to apply that speed to customer demands that will migrate.

So the elements of speed and adjusting your reaction to customer needs has come into play. Businesses who take aim at their customers’ needs and try to shoot incrementally closer to what they think might be the bulls-eye of client expectations are getting it wrong already: primarily because delivery methodologies are slow and expensive to change.
How then can businesses stay competitive in an environment that changes at this speed? Of course the first step is to more regularly assess the needs of clients, and to adjust before one’s competitors do. Then one needs to be able to do business where and when customers demand it, and to adjust communication and business models quickly and seamlessly. When it comes to taking your business mobile, business owners and directors only have to look around to recognise that there are compelling ways for businesses to shoot just ahead of target. This requires both a cultural adaptation that recognises that change is a constant, and the technological platform to be able to react fast and regularly in a tight budget environment.

Making sure that you can engage with your target market on their terms will within a few years become non-negotiable. Businesses that cannot do this will disappear. This is why more and more businesses are developing mobile strategies and launching apps to further convenience their customers.

With this in mind, the success of your business is purely contingent on whether you are able to engage with your target market on their terms and to do so at low levels of cost and risk, faster than your competition.
The best development and application delivery environments allow you to do just that: develop and launch business-boosting applications once, across all platforms and quickly respond to feedback or requests by adjusting the solution.

What’s more is that in South Africa, and indeed the rest of the continent, businesses now have access to best-of-breed application delivery platforms such as OutSystems Platform (which is rated best in the world on the scale of flexibility and usability).

A platform such as this makes it possible to develop and deliver applications six times as fast and to deploy them to any platform. Add rapid iteration to that, and it becomes hard to ignore the benefits of using the correct tools for the job of taking your business mobile or of developing and changing customer offerings.

So what’s in the OutSystems toolbox?

Businesses often balk at the time and cost associated with developing and deploying apps. It’s crucial to factor into your mobile strategy not only the changing business environment – but the true cost of keeping up. But besides the time and cost, the fact remains that you’re unlikely to just develop one app – you’d have to deploy your app across numerous channels of engagement and the implication is that your developers are hand-coding the same solution over and over again.

All in all when it comes to developing or refining your mobile business strategy the cost implications often mean that loads of businesses are unreceptive to change.

But new app delivery technology is fast making this attitude redundant. These businesses are also usually concerned about the usability of their legacy systems with new technologies. This is another attitude that can fortunately be jettisoned.

Imagine if you could extend your backend visually, develop once for all devices and deploy six times faster? Because if you could develop six times faster, your development costs would be significantly lower. What if it was possible to respond to user feedback at the drop of a hat? The ability to audit user adoption and respond to feedback is often the factor that gives businesses competitive advantage. Now what if you could do all of that with the resources on hand, leveraging your existing skills and systems to drive change…fast?

The truth is, you can. Which is why more and more CIOs are opting for high-performance, high productivity platforms such as OutSystems to unlock the potential within their departments – and to produce business changing innovations that work without having to defend the high cost and high risk of that change.

Developing apps using open, industry standard code and server stacks, means there’s zero risk of lock in and the investment remains secure. The implication is that even while OutSystems will always be on hand to lend support, businesses have low reliance on that support. Developers will be able to truly innovate, spend less time on maintenance and be empowered by the tools they need in today’s world to maintain business competitiveness.

The true gift of this platform, however, is not only the fact that it drives business but that it empowers developers and IT departments to become the cornerstones of business-driving innovations.

By shirking the task of onerous hand coding, endless maintenance and eliminating the litany of bug fixing associated with delivering new apps while also giving individuals the tools to do what they’re really good at, businesses are able to drive their bottom line from within their ranks.

And because this is possible, can you really afford not to change?