Businesses in Asia-Pacific face an uphill battle to meet growing demand for application development

Businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are under enormous pressure to deliver new software applications in 2018 according to the latest  State of Application Development report from OutSystems.

Forty-three percent of respondents from the region said they had plans to deliver ten or more applications during 2018, and half of those said they had over 25 applications slated for delivery in 2018.

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The 2018 global research report examines the challenges faced by application development teams, their development priorities, and the strategies they are using to try and increase delivery speed and capacity. This year 3,550 IT professionals completed the survey, and 18% of them worked for organizations headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region.

Despite the burgeoning demand for application development, several performance indicators suggest that Asia-Pacific organizations will struggle to meet their delivery targets. Five key findings give reasons for concern.

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Backlogs Remain Stubbornly High

Globally, 65% of IT professionals said they have an app dev backlog, and 10% of these respondents have more than 10 apps in the development queue. In the Asia-Pacific, the situation seems worse, with 14% of respondents claiming a backlog of 10 applications or more.

Excessive Development Time

Forty-seven percent of respondents in the Asia-Pacific regions said the average time to deliver a web or mobile application is five months or more. Thirty percent described their organization as unhappy or somewhat unhappy with the speed of application delivery.

Development Skills Are Hard to Hire

The skills shortage is just as acutely felt in the Asia-Pacific reason as it is in the rest of the world. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they had hired developers in the past year, a few percentage points below the global average of all responses. Eighty percent of respondents described app dev talent as scarce, with hiring taking longer and costing more.

Slow Returns From Agile and DevOps Investments

Organizations are investing in multiple tools and approaches to increase application delivery. Sixty percent of organizations have invested in agile tools and services in the past year. But, the average agile maturity score for respondents in Asia-Pacific was a lackluster 2.4 out of 5, which was slightly lower than the global average of all responses at 2.6.

Forty percent of organizations have invested in DevOps tools and services during the past year. However, they typically described their DevOps maturity as somewhere between “just starting” and “fundamental.”

Customer-centricity seems to be receiving less focus in the Asia-Pacific region

While Asia-Pacific businesses said they were prioritizing new applications used directly by customers or business partners, they are roughly half as likely (53%) as their global counterparts to have invested in customer-centric methods such as customer journey mapping, design thinking, and lean UX. Such underinvestment could put at risk the ability of Asia-Pacific businesses to deliver compelling, customer-focused apps.

Mark Weaser, Vice President for Asia-Pacific at OutSystems, commented: “Demand for application development across our region is booming, but our survey reveals that availability of developer talent and investment in customer-centric methods are not keeping pace with demand. The risks for businesses include lengthening backlogs, rising frustration that IT is not delivering, and delays to digital transformation programs.”

What tools and methods should IT leaders adopt to escape the AppDev crunch?

IT leaders need to think strategically about investing in tools that can accelerate app development, boost developer productivity, and specifically help their teams develop the kinds of customer-facing apps that they want to build.

Worldwide, the survey found that low-code is becoming a mainstream approach to meeting the challenges of agile and well-governed application development:

  • 34% of businesses said that they were already using low-code
  • A further 9% say that they were just about to start using such tools.

Organizations that are already using low-code reported significant benefits:

  • They were 21% more likely to describe their organization as being happy or somewhat happy with the speed of app development.
  • And, they were three times more likely to report having no app development backlog.

Low-code is also helping businesses mature their agile and DevOps practices. Organizations that are using low-code indicate a 15% agile maturity advantage and a 10% DevOps maturity advantage compared to businesses that are not using low-code.

Those using low-code also reported better governance of citizen development, being three times more likely to describe such development as “highly governed,” compared to counterparts that don’t use low-code platforms.

Summarizing the picture, Mark Weaser comments: “Organizations that have embraced low-code are developing faster and more efficiently, with shorter backlogs and greater agility. In an increasingly competitive world, this agility advantage is essential for digital innovation. Low-code seems to have crossed the chasm, it’s not just for early adopters, and those that are late to adopt it, risk falling behind more nimble competitors in the race for customers’ hearts and minds.”

The full 32-page research report is available for free from the OutSystems website – https://www.outsystems.com/1/state-app-development-trends/.

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