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3 Ways Application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) Can Fuel Your Business

Alena Davis, Appian
January 11, 2018

Application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) solutions have been gaining momentum as businesses work to adjust to the new application-focused enterprise IT ecosystem. With apps proliferating and demand for new applications rising at a breakneck pace, the demand for cloud platforms that accelerate development processes is escalating quickly. For a deeper look at precisely what aPaaS systems do, check out our story, "aPaaS: What Is It and What Can It Do For Your Business."

At their core, aPaaS systems provide greater flexibility by simplifying and accelerating application development processes. This is accomplished through low-code capabilities that provide users with a modular, visual interface for development. Reducing or eliminating the need for custom coding allows organizations to roll out new apps quickly. The cloud platform provides the infrastructure and operating system basis, creating a stable environment that reduces the testing and release demands for apps. Furthermore, data integration is simple as information housed within the platform can be shared between solutions and apps outside the ecosystem need only be linked to the platform, not each app that resides in it.

"aPaaS systems provide greater flexibility by simplifying and accelerating application development processes."

All of these capabilities add up to transform the way organizations handle app development. As such, enterprises are moving quickly to adopt aPaaS systems. Persistence Market Research found that rapid growth is ahead in the aPaaS sector with organizations responding to the rise of cloud computing. Zion Market Research also anticipates quick expansion, projecting market increases at a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent for the period of 2016 to 2021. As businesses put more robust development capabilities in place, they can better align their technology capabilities with their operational demands.

Three of the most noteworthy ways that aPaaS solutions can drive business gains are:

1. Respond Quickly to Market Changes

Consider a situation where your executive team has identified an opportunity to gain an edge in the market by reaching customers with a variation of an existing service. The problem is that your current customer-facing applications don't provide the features you need. What's more, the processes your users rely on to interact with the data generated by that app won't be in line with the new demands.

An aPaaS platform empowers organizations to get that new app out quickly and use built-in process management tools to automate or streamline internal workflows in response to the solution. In many cases, an aPaaS system can get apps out in a matter of a days. Once the core feature set is in place, organizations can then gradually add new capabilities over time. The result is a more flexible, responsive business environment that can respond to market changes effectively.

2. Eliminate Gaps Between IT and Business Users

For a long time, IT departments have often been considered the gatekeepers that the rest of the organization had to deal with. If employees wanted a new technology to work more efficiently, IT was there to say no because of costs or security risks. Of course, IT departments are moving past this situation, becoming more adaptable all the time. In many companies, IT teams are being tasked with empowering the business to keep up with new technological demands created by both enterprise users and customers. However, the long standing relationship gap between the parties still rears its head as organizations work to figure out how they can get IT and business teams to work together.

For example, the idea of creating cross-disciplinary teams to set project specifications is becoming a common piece of advice prior to rolling out a new development project. The theory behind this strategy is that business users will be able to actively participate in the conversations around the development effort and make sure the technology goals set forth in project will properly support business priorities. This presents a few key problems, however, as business users may not have a deep enough understanding of the development process to properly speak on the project specifications. At the same time, the IT team may not understand the full implications of what non-tech users are asking for. As a project evolves, the end result often misses key points.

Low-code aPaaS solutions allow business users to participate in development instead of just talking about it. As such, they can customize or refine apps to meet their own demands. This empowers companies to better align IT and business operations, creating value opportunities.

3. Sustain a Culture of Innovation

"Giving business users the freedom to create their own apps alleviates the operational burden on the enterprise IT team."

Completing a new project here and there is one thing, but the rapid pace of change facing businesses today is forcing them to find ways to constantly innovate while continuing to sustain profitable everyday operations. This demand requires technical and cultural growth as organizations establish expectations that everybody in the company becomes a problem solver and democratizes the tools that let employees resolve issues.

An aPaaS solution is particularly valuable in this area, as giving business users the freedom to create their own apps alleviates the operational burden on the enterprise IT team and allows for more consistent new app releases as organizational requirements change and shift. Furthermore, using an aPaaS platform to consistently solve problems can lead to a shift in how employees think. Instead of approaching problems as annoyances they must deal with until IT or management step in, workers can become a more active part in solving issues and driving innovation.

Defining aPaaS in Action

In some ways, pinning down exactly what aPaaS is can prove difficult because the platform does so much. It provides low-code development tools, serves as backend infrastructure, gives users a hub to access apps and collaboration tools, streamlines data integration and offers key process management functionality. When thinking about all of what aPaaS can do, the simpler thing may be to focus on what it can accomplish for a business.

In a nutshell, aPaaS can serve as a digital transformation platform by creating a consolidated venue for users to access data, communication tools and processes that they need to keep up with today's business demands. Have more questions about aPaaS? Reach out to Appian today and we can help you see the full potential of what aPaaS systems offer.

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