Apps are like Love Affairs. Yeah.|February 17, 2017 0
INDIA: Revolving doors have a lot of plus points. No guards, no usherers, no speed-breakers, no frisking delays. But they do have one much unexpected and a far-flung collateral damage.
Now there is one less way of knowing whether a guy is a gentleman or not; and almost no excuse for checking if a teenager has some manners left to hold the door for the elderly. Chivalry-tests notwithstanding, even ephemeral loyalty has taken a beating. Now it’s as easy and quick to get out as it is to get in.
Nowhere else is the proof of this scary flakiness more visible than in the current world of apps. Apps have taken the whole consumer-interface landscape by storm and changed the contours of user engagement beyond recognition. They are super-fast to install, to review, to update, to hop away from, and to dispose.
Is this transience mudding the waters for digital wannabes? Would those with native digital edge be better equipped to deal with the challenges that apps are tossing around? Users seem to love these revolving doors but not exactly for the reasons they were designed for.
Abhilash Purushothaman, Country Director & Head of DevOps Business for India & SAARC Region, CA Technologies has a view from the trenches out there – what makes, maintains and what breaks an ostensibly-super-cool app; and why businesses need to get out of their echo chambers if they want to retain app-users before they evaporate into thin air.
If you thought it boils down to programming shifts, death of waterfalls, APIs, IP, and Jekylls and Hydes; you are right – but almost. There is a sunset for outsourcing, a question-mark on IT function and a lobotomy of legacy-CXO brains flanking the answer here as well. Let’s find out.
We talk so much about the rise of this app-economy and so many apps are still buried under reviews that range from the negative to the utterly-annoyed. Users are disappointed, dismissive, and even disillusioned at times, going by what the apps-store-reviews hint. What are the app-guys missing?
First of all, yes, user experience is a critical component of the app-based technology storm. Are apps here to stay? Well, the way technology and applications have transformed from B2C to B2B and P2P unicorns is striking. This clearly indicates that the train has left the station. In this economy, there is a clear sense of how apps behave in real-time customer interactions. Then there is the people aspect of it – what they expect and call the ‘right’ experience- that can vary. The change in expectations though is understandable.
Hold on. You mean to say that user expectations, per se, have taken a shift? How?
Earlier, the time taken by an app to respond – was itself a big factor. But today, we are so much digitally immersed, thanks to consumerisation of technology, that now the factors that we see have moved to – how it looks, how it engages you, and whether it has utility services along with features and a unified experience. We have reached a point in this world where apps make our lives and decisions way more collaborative and empowered than earlier. But that also translates into what they are supposed to deliver – performance is a given now. What differentiates a good app from a sloppy one is its design, how it behaves and a host of other features.
So does it swing back to QA, testing aspects of the software era again – specially as users often complain about production-unready apps or server crashes or poor loading times when they diss an app?
It depends on the context and the traditional view of the app, compounded with change in behavior. This is a factor to reckon with, not just for unicorns but for some enterprises too- those who used to view IT as a function that takes care of infrastructure and software. In an app-economy, IT does not necessarily play the same note. There is lot of the other stuff. If one has to survive in this app-economy, there is a strong need to create a function that is independent and strategic. It cannot be a siloed function.
Look at the unicorns and digital-early-birds. They never had a legacy IT department because their DNA is different and they approach apps in an organic way. That’s why Telcos and banks have started to move as software-centric enterprises.
Gathering requirements, testing and releasing to millions of users – all that is a new game. The way the world works today is well-engrained in a Facebook, an Uber’s approach. That kind of shift from a traditional to digitally-agile and innovative IT is going to be the new status-quo. And companies are gearing up for that shift. Even verticals like automotives – with Tesla and self-driving cars etc. – are manifesting that realization.
Are these changes also about agile vs. waterfall mindsets?
In a real-time environment, it is very difficult to be agile. You cannot adapt agile to everything as there are elements of brick-and-mortar world involved even now. So innovative technology companies look at combining waterfall with agile. They ask – how can I be self-sufficient with both traditional and agile genres working side by side? A lot of companies are pretty effective in optimising their cycles; they may not even outsource development anymore to SIs. Over a period of time, the pace of innovation has changed so much that you no longer can let go of control on the IP. Companies are taking back this control.
The new league is getting the IP back and using software development to accelerate innovation. For these enterprises, this is now a boardroom topic. In about five years, most enterprises can be seen getting ready to get their hands dirty into application software development. Those who don’t, or can’t, will see their markets plateau. As to software providers, even they would want to align with this shift of handing over control but also transforming as partners.
The scenario is going to get more demanding for apps then?
There is also the issue of measuring the experience. The scale has moved beyond performance to analytics, API connects, service-provider integration, working on Android and iOS environments, working in low-Internet bandwidth constraints etc. The very definition of experience is constantly shifting.
That said, I see app-experiences like love affairs. There is a little hesitation in the beginning, but then it can turn into an addiction after a slow phase of attraction. It can change from someone-you-don’t-trust-easily to someone you-can’t-think-your-life-without. If an app can give a seamless experience to the intended user, things turn out well if one is patient, innovative and adaptive.