Enterprise applications are the foundation of business operations. Yet building, launching, and maintaining them have often been anything but simple, driving up costs while limiting effectiveness. Throw in the spectrum of different development platforms, and you’ve got a recipe for confusion about what will work best for your organization.
To find out just what to look for – and look out for – we spoke with Jason Adolf, Federal Practice Lead for Appian, for the Government Technology Insider podcast. With the federal decision-maker in mind, Adolf addressed a range of topics that can and should be part of a buying decision.
Adolf explained that flexibility should be built-in to the design of an application solution. “The mission can vary so much from agency to agency, that dropping an enterprise platform into an organization doesn’t just occur,” he said, explaining that existing investments, legacy data, and infrastructure have to be considered, while ensuring ease of use for non-technical users is essential. And, of course, security is essential, especially with the cloud, where FedRAMP standards must be maintained.
But, while cloud solutions have tremendous benefits, he doesn’t believe that a pure cloud approach is always the best one. “This may be heresy, but some customers just aren’t ready for it, or they may have data they don’t want to put in the cloud,” Adolf said. Going forward, he explained, there will be agencies that choose to use a pure cloud platform, while other prefer a hybrid situation where critical data is kept on-premises, while the application runs in the cloud. They may even start their development in the cloud, then port their application to an on-premises environment.
Flexibility is also crucial when planning for digital transformation. Federal decision-makers have to balance purely technical needs with regulations, security and data privacy requirements. “There’s no federal CIO that has only one system, only one database, only one web application server, so we can’t tell them there’s only one right way to solve the problem,” Adolf said. It may not be possible to make wholesale infrastructure changes right now, or maybe the budget isn’t available right now, he explained, so there needs to be more than one way to begin modernizing their systems.
Asked about future-proofing the application development process, Adolf said he sees a lot of great technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation that are evolving very quickly. “Who knows, in six months, what the next, best thing is going to look like in AI,” he said. The key to future-proofing, he suggests, is a platform that allows you to integrate the best tools on the market to solve your specific issue and allow you to easily swap them out any time down the road.
Adolf returned to his basic premise: flexibility is central to any choice of platform. This, along with meeting standards and ease of use for non-technical users, are central to a successful solution. “The government is demanding, as they should, that it doesn’t require an army of technical resources to build complicated applications. That’s what I would tell someone today … or in 12 months that they should be looking for.”
Listen to the podcast here: