How organisations can turn the tide on doomed digital transformation

This is a guest blogpost by Mat Rule, CEO & Founder of Toca

Current approaches to digital transformation are falling short. In fact, only 16% of executives say their company’s digital transformations are succeeding. Why? Lack of skills, legacy systems and applications, data silos, complexity, lack of integration, unoptimised business processes – these are just some of the numerous hurdles that stand in the way of success. Added to this is the expectation of speed. Often, the pace of innovation outweighs the available time and resources at the disposal of IT teams. So, how can they turn the tide?

Organisations need a new approach 

IT teams are currently working with one hand tied behind their backs. They are asked to deliver the impossible, within very tight budget, time, and resource constraints. As a result, organisations have to negotiate on which features are most important, with others filtered out of the scope of work. Teams are often forced to make promises around digital transformation timelines and costs that they cannot keep, leading to high levels of technical debt.

Added to this, the ecosystem digital transformation relies on is increasingly complex and disjointed. Technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) have been successful in helping businesses get projects off the ground. However, they are built on aging foundations and require time, money and high code developer skills to implement. RPA also fails to provide the flexibility needed to bridge between older legacy applications and newer cloud solutions, which forces businesses to be selective. Only 5% of their problems are solved, with the remaining 95% going unchallenged.

Fighting the skills crisis 

Another huge challenge to digital transformation is the looming skills gap. In April 2021, there were nearly 10,000 vacancies for software developers, making it one of the most in-demand jobs in the UK. This shortage in developers has put many projects on hold, forcing companies to either ‘make do’ or to hire in expensive aid. The scope of digital transformation ends up being limited, timelines are extended and costs balloon. Ultimately, organisations do not get the benefits they were initially hoping for, as technical debt increases.

Yet a significant movement could help businesses close the skills gap. ‘Citizen Developers’ are technically minded individuals within organisations that are able to build apps using simple drag and drop functionality offered in newer, no-code platforms. As these platforms do not require individuals to write their own code, empowering Citizen Developers can divert some of the application development requirements away from high coders, allowing businesses to hire people with less technical skillsets to do the same job.

However, no-code app solutions do not provide a panacea. While they can help non-developers to create apps, these apps do not provide the necessary integration and automation needed to embed them into everyday processes; a task that inevitably circles back to high code developers. No-code apps platforms are also designed for a modern world and do not integrate with the legacy applications most businesses continue to rely on. So, while these platforms are certainly a step in the right direction, they are not a silver bullet.

So, what is the answer?

To truly reap the rewards of digital transformation, businesses must look to solutions that empower Citizen Developers, reduce or remove technical barriers and enable organisations to truly transform business processes. Combining no-code apps with an automation fabric can help make this a reality, delivering digital transformation projects quicker, at lower cost and with no technical debt.

As the automation fabric is woven into the business, it enables the control of any system, the shaping of any data, and automation of any process. This cracks the challenge of data silos between legacy systems, modern applications and APIs, while also providing the no-code building blocks that can be reused to solve a variety of business problems. Ultimately, combining an automation fabric with no-code apps eases app development by enabling Citizen Developers to swiftly build enterprise-ready apps that seamlessly integrate with automation to transform business processes – from simple web portals to complex, logic-based applications. The automation fabric is central to conquering integration challenges and streamlining business processes to drive innovation and change throughout an entire business.

A holistic approach is essential

Digital transformation will continue to be a top priority for businesses for the foreseeable future. Becoming truly innovative and future-proof is what will improve business processes and deliver growth. However, this can’t be achieved with a simple wave of the wand. Digital transformation is complicated and IT teams are frequently under-resourced or lack the technical expertise to efficiently deliver wholesale transformation. Instead, by investing in an automation fabric as part of a no-code apps approach, businesses can deliver continuous digital transformation success.

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