As companies continue to monitor the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some may be in a position to make changes to their operations, in addition to those they may have implemented in 2020. As IT teams step up to create the technological environments needed to deploy those changes, they would do well to also focus on innovations that will help them develop software more quickly and easily.
Using this strategy, companies can continue to provide solid service while also innovating in preparation for what comes next. This process enables IT teams to work with the tools they currently have, while, at the same time, looking ahead to what will be helpful under shifting circumstances and requirements. The following areas may be useful starting points of focus for dedicated innovation teams.
Robotic Process Automation
Robotic process automation (RPA), otherwise known as “bots,” can be used in many areas to help workers perform repetitive tasks. For example, the legal team might use it to review contracts, and HR might use it to onboard new employees. This type of technology frees professionals to perform more valuable tasks that require human involvement.
For IT teams, using bots can save time and, therefore, money. Fewer developers can be hired to complete the same amount of work. Examples of IT areas that can be automated using bots are:
- Data migration by monitoring the process
- Onboarding new users by granting permissions, and assigning roles and devices
- Patch management by ensuring the correct patches are implemented at the right time
- Antivirus management by keeping antivirus features up to date
- Backup management by automatically backing up data
- System maintenance by running the necessary diagnostics
The following video describes the details of RPA implementation:
Progressive Web Apps
In addition to native, hybrid, and cross-platform mobile development, software engineers can now choose to use progressive web apps (PWAs). With this option, developers use mobile web application development techniques to create apps that look and behave like native ones. Like traditional apps, PWAs install an icon that enables users to click through to the website rather than to an app.
Advantages of PWAs include the following:
- Less time to develop
- Increased traffic
- Low development costs
- Fast installation
- Support for all browsers and devices
- Working performance in low-quality networks and offline
- Native-like interface
- Push notifications
- Automatic updates
- Secure operation that keeps user data safe
- Not distributed via app stores and can be shared through a URL
Digital Transformation Tools
Companies that digitize manual operations can take advantage of greater automation, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing costs. Digital transformation is a gradual process as businesses start with digitizing small tasks that serve as a proof of concept for larger initiatives.
Digital transformation can take place within departments throughout the organization, such as sales, manufacturing, and customer care. The key is helping workers be more productive, such as with an automated estimate process to replace an outdated paper one.
Another key area for transformation is data management and the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to collect data. Businesses that master the use of data to provide actionable insights are well positioned to stay ahead of the competition in areas like innovation and customer experience.
Digital transformation, like the other techniques mentioned here, can also take place within IT, to help accelerate the pace of other projects. Benefits include higher efficiency in managing systems and greater ease of operations.
Low-code development involves the use of building blocks of code that can be assembled into feature-rich workflows and applications. This technique makes it possible for people who don’t know coding languages to create fully functional products. However, professional developers well versed in coding can also use low-code development to speed up their process.
This type of development can be used to create IT processes, interfaces, data models, business software, and more. Low-code platforms typically include direct integrations and low-code API accessibility, drag-and-drop workflow designers, workflow testing and prototyping facilities, and monitoring, resource management, and advanced tools to streamline the development process.
Some benefits of low-code platforms are as follows:
- Ability to quickly assemble new processes and applications
- Reduced need to research, write and test new scripts
- Reduced need for knowledge of every tool or technology
- Reduced costs
- Increased business agility
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Improved user experience
As markets and business environments change, companies need to be able to quickly change with them. Tech solutions that solve today’s business challenges may not be capable of addressing tomorrow’s needs. So, the more flexible they can be, the better.
The following tips are a starting point for Tech professionals who want to create more flexible — or future-proof — solutions:
- Create processes, such as using containers, automation platforms, or a standard language for managing different application types.
- Design with scalability in mind, making room for future product innovations.
- Design with security in mind. For the highest level of security in the final product, it’s important to consider it at every step in the development process.
- Leverage continuous integration and continuous delivery. These practices contribute to higher code quality and security and enable teams to respond readily to business requirements.
- Write solid code that can be easily maintained and altered. Use simple design practices and use a platform that can automate testing.
Setting Up for Success
If you dedicate resources to innovation and use the techniques listed here now, you will set yourself up for operational success later. While it may take a bit more time and effort to separate these activities, it’s well worth the effort for greater efficiency down the road.