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When an App is Disposable: The Case for Short-Term, Cost-Effective Solutions

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When an App is Disposable: The Case for Short-Term, Cost-Effective Solutions

Learn about the concept of a disposable app, what exactly this means, and where this can be useful in business, according to Gartner findings.

· Mobile Zone ·
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The transformation of business is occurring at a blistering pace. This means challenges need to be solved quickly, but it also means that those solutions may not have a long life span. It doesn’t make sense, then, to adhere to the standard process of investing heavily in a solution that won’t last long.

Enter the disposable app. This concept seems strange at first; why would someone go to the trouble of creating an app that may not be permanent? Well, as organizations become more agile and as they grow and embrace digital transformation, the rules of business apps are changing.

How Can Apps Be Disposable?

IT investments have historically been made with longevity in mind. When the IT department is building custom software for an organization, they are typically making a significant financial investment, and they want to get the value back over a long period of time. This is especially true of expensive applications that are necessary for running the enterprise at scale. They are likely to have a long lifecycle.

However, not all business apps are the same. For instance, one an app may represent a strategic investment and another has a tactical, operational-type approach. In today’s quickly changing technology and business environments, the need in the organization, or in the team that introduced the app, might change rapidly. For instance, in less than two years, that need might not exist, or it might be completely different.

Business needs are changing so rapidly that apps, which exist to meet business needs, are subject to change as well. The organization or team may want to stop using it or change it so dramatically that they would essentially have to start all over. So then, a disposable app will have a very short lifecycle.   

Entry into the world of mobile apps begins for many companies as a way to replace paper processes. They take their existing workflow, their paper form, and replace it with something that mimics in the digital world what they had in physical format. But as they start using this app and transforming their business, they’ll realize that their paper form doesn’t translate well to the digital world. They find new ways of doing business, and the company starts changing. So then, the app that originally existed just to replace paper no longer works with the new goals they want to accomplish. The original app usually gets disposed of or gets modified heavily and transforms into something completely new.

Why an Organization Would Use a Disposable App

Consider the situation that plenty of companies find themselves in: You are running an organization where you see that the business problems you need to solve are in and of themselves subject to change over time. You know that between five and 20 people will be using these apps and that most of your apps will not persist beyond a short window – be it months or a couple of years.

Consequently, you want a low-investment option. It doesn’t make sense to spend a six-figure sum for projects that are going to be used by a small audience, will be delivered quickly and will live only a short time. This is the perfect scenario for a disposable app.

Gartner’s framework of bimodal IT fits in well with the idea of a short-term, disposable app. Gartner defines the classic mode, or Mode One, as a situation where the IT team is dealing with the large-scale apps that matter for the enterprise. They absolutely require certainty and predictability in those apps. The IT team does not make radical changes, because the company cannot absorb that risk. So, Mode One is about certainty, predictability and evolution.

Gartner’s Mode Two is where the IT team explores changes to the app in an innovative fashion. In this mode, organizations can absorb more risk and attack problems a bit more creatively. This is the mode of the disposable app.

Where to Begin

Let’s assume that, after considering your needs in light of your business trajectory and goals, you have found a problem that might be solved by a disposable app via small-scale, rapid, responsive delivery, a short development cycle and lower investment. In that case, the first thing to do is to pick a toolset that will enable you to deliver it.

It is understandable, in this situation, why development platforms that are low-code or no-code enabled are growing in popularity. These types of platforms enable a pro developer to deliver something very quickly and inexpensively to their end users.

Line-of-business managers present a classic example of how appropriate disposable apps can be. No one knows a person’s job as well as the person doing it. When you’re determining requirements for delivering an app, one of the great challenges is that the farther you get away from the “man on the street” view, the more difficult it can be to deliver a useful app in a timely manner. With low-code/no-code platforms, IT can get much closer to the person actually doing the work – the one who knows the problem and knows the specs intimately. Then IT can understand the requirements with much more clarity and more speed than most traditional development platforms would allow.

So, the idea of an app being disposable isn’t so strange, after all. Apps are business tools, and as business needs change rapidly, so must its tools. Look at the problems you are trying to solve within your organization and talk with line-of-business professionals about whether there is a short-term challenge that could be solved by a disposable app. If so, a low-code/no-code platform can help you develop the short-term solution that your business needs.

mobile ,enterprise mobility ,low code ,no code

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