Why companies are building micro apps instead of developing homegrown software

Business processes have exploded by as much as 350 percent in the last 20 years, snaring enterprises in a web of complexity and inefficiency.

Nearly three in four employees say their work environment is too complex. Managers are crying out for mobile apps that will bring simplicity and flexibility to their lives.

Seven in 10 organizations agree that simplifying work is an important initiative, but many are struggling to keep up. Demand for mobile apps is growing five times faster than IT’s capacity to deliver them – most companies can barely develop 10 apps a year. To stay viable, many will need to scale up to 100 or more.

The homegrown method just can’t deliver those kinds of numbers — not with today’s limited IT staffs and budgets. Yet off-the-shelf solutions, like mobile app development platforms, just aren’t tailored enough to engender adoption. That’s why many companies are jumping ship in favor of new technologies like micro apps that promise the simplicity and efficiency organizations are desperately seeking.

The problem with homegrown apps

Many enterprises have invested millions of dollars into homegrown and custom apps, which can represent as much as 90 percent of an organization’s application mix. These apps are intended to help simplify business processes and make companies more efficient. In reality, they do anything but.

A single homegrown app can take up to a year to build and cost an average of $270,000. Fewer than a third are finished on time and on budget. But the costs don’t end there. Once they’re built, homegrown apps must be constantly maintained and upgraded — indefinitely.

All too often, they’re managed poorly (or not at all). One survey found that homegrown applications are the culprit behind most network downtime. Eight in 10 business leaders reported application outages significant enough to affect their bottom line, costing more than $10,000 per hour and lasting an average of three or four hours.

Another limitation of homegrown apps is that they can’t realistically provide an all-in-one solution. To keep costs and development timelines down, they’re often limited in scope to focus only on mobilizing a single system, such as SAP, on a single operating system, such as iOS. That’s great for employees who rely heavily on accessing one app on an iPhone, but it doesn’t help organizations that want to simplify work processes across the board, regardless of what system, device, or platform is being used.

Mobile app development platforms were a great first step

To satisfy their need for both customizability and rapid app development, some companies are utilizing mobile app development tools to satisfy their increasing need for new apps. These platforms allow low-level coders to quickly and efficiently build in-house apps by piecing together pre-made templates. One tech giant has used its app maker to create more than 300 apps that simplify just about every business process across the organization.

When first announced, this concept revolutionized the mobile enterprise. Today, mobile app development platforms (MADPs or RMADs) are available to help businesses build mobile apps, iterate on the fly, and take some pressure off IT.

Unfortunately, these MADPs and other mobile app development tools have their own limitations. While they offer the affordability and flexibility companies are looking for, they are similar to homegrown apps in that they focus on mobile-only, single system development. Organizations that want to simplify workflows across all systems and for all employees—including those who still use a desktop or laptop computer — are once again overlooked.

Why micro apps are the answer

So how can companies swiftly develop custom apps that simplify business processes across all systems, enable employees across all devices and platforms, and overall increase the productivity of a workforce? Many are achieving their goals by going micro.

Micro apps are lightweight, highly targeted apps that serve as connectors between existing systems and the people that use them. They can pull data from the clunky legacy systems, databases, and SaaS solutions used across the organization and deliver it to employees in a streamlined and actionable manner.

Sapho micro apps bring many benefits to an organization. They’re fast, easy, and affordable to build. They don’t require heavy coding expertise to develop or maintain so more people can pitch in. They can integrate multiple systems to break down data silos. They engender high adoption rates among employees because they offer personalized information and one-click task completion. Micro apps also run on all types of devices and channels – everything from mobile and desktop devices, to browsers, intranets, and email and messenger clients. Ultimately, Sapho micro apps make employees more productive and effective while enabling them to make better data-driven decisions.

It’s time to rethink the way work gets done and enterprise apps will play a large role in this transition. Micro apps are quick to develop, low cost, and easy to use. Sapho Modern Portal enables companies to provide employees with modern micro apps, accessible via a modern portal, that simplify workflows, allowing them to work faster, smarter, and more effectively. 

Want to learn more about ways companies are using Sapho Modern Portal to triple productivity and simplify work? 


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Natalie Lambert

Natalie Lambert is the Vice President of Marketing at Sapho. She joins from Citrix where she held multiple product marketing leadership positions. Before that, Natalie was a principal analyst at Forrester Research where she was the leading expert on end user computing.

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