The Rise of DIY App Builder Platforms in the Enterprise

The following is a guest contributed post from Ross Brown, Content Marketing Manager at Fliplet.

Recent statistics have confirmed that more businesses than ever are creating enterprise apps, so it’s no surprise that the number of app development agencies and app builder tools has soared. The key question in the minds of many organisations is no longer whether they should they create apps, but how to cope with the increasing demand.

Amongst the many options available to businesses, DIY app building platforms are now gaining considerable territory. These platforms use the premise that anyone can build an app through a low code or no code approach, thus minimising the cost and resource needed. DIY app builders were initially quite popular with SMEs, but the technology was quite limited and enterprises would’ve never even bothered considering it.

Yet in recent months, there has been a distinct rise in the number of enterprises who are adapting to DIY app development.

Global organizations are realizing that creating enterprise apps internally is cheaper and faster — but only when internal IT resources are not drained by the process. A DIY app builder often means several apps can be built internally and in parallel without a problem.

It sounds great, but there are still enterprises who question the benefit of DIY app builder solutions: IT teams are skeptical that they will work, and developers often feel like they will be limited by the platform. So, have DIY app builders reached true enterprise compatibility, or is the technology still too limited?

How do DIY app builders work?

Most DIY app builders come in the shape of an online platform that claims to be either low code or no code.

Low code platforms work by allowing a great part of the app (the front end) to be built via a drag-and-drop menu of components and utilities. This is a very visual process where the “app experience” is designed but nothing’s really happening in the background. Once the front end is ready, the app still has to be programmed by a developer to function as expected.

This approach saves precious developer time but still requires technical knowledge, so these platforms often sit solely in IT.

No code platforms, on the other hand, are not just meant to be used by IT, but by line-of-business professionals (who don’t have any coding or technical skills). These platforms use app templates and a menu of pre-built components and utilities to cater to the most common business app requirements – the front and back end are built at the same time, but the user doesn’t need to know the technicalities of the process.

Users can add in features like content, images, lists, documents, contact directories and more, depending on the platform. Some platforms also enable the apps’ actual code to be edited (by more technical users or the company’s IT department) to add extra functionality.

Once designed and tested, apps built with a DIY platform can usually be distributed via app stores, or internally through an enterprise app store.

Why are DIY app builders the best option for the enterprise?

The reasons why many organizations choose to use a DIY app builder are plentiful. Both Line of Business and IT professionals can see clear benefits when opting for this approach.

In terms of cost…

Minimizes the cost of introducing new technology to the business

The initial launch of an app or suite of apps within a large organisation is a big step: Costs are usually very high, which means risk is high on all stakeholders. If the apps don’t prove useful or helpful for employees or clients, then the project could be deemed a failure.

Minimizing the cost of entry to mobile applications via a DIY app builder makes sense as a way of reducing risk, and DIY app building platforms often cost a lot less than it would cost to deliver apps via an agency or by hiring app developers internally.

Cheaper than agency or bespoke service app development

Research has shown the average cost of developing a mobile app is between $37,913 and $171,450. Yet, these costs could climb up to $500,000 or higher. That’s a staggering amount, even for the world’s largest organisations. Adding app updates, maintenance and the retention of compatibility with new devices as they come out, makes the cost even higher, but it also drains IT resource and can be expected to require someone’s attention on a regular basis.

DIY app builders enable the company to be more mobile for a fraction of the cost. The possibilities won’t be as limitless as those offered by building apps from scratch. That said, IT resource and money can be saved in common app use cases and put to better use in more sophisticated mobile applications.

In terms of time…

Time to market is reduced

The time it takes for an employee to create an app using an app building platform will vary, but some platforms claim they let users create apps in minutes. On average, an app will take 14-28 days from start to finish using an app builder. By contrast, developing an app through an independent developer or agency has been estimated to take 126 days or more.

That’s approximately 100 days’ worth of time saved by teams using DIY app platforms. It could mean the difference between “let’s not bother with an app” and “let’s build an app for that by next week.”

A reduced learning curve

Although low code app builders still require IT users to learn how it works, the learning curve tends to not be steep as it would be by having to train these same users to build apps from scratch.

No code platforms take this even further and allow even non-technical line-of-business users to build, by using common computing skills like drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. That’s the ultimate time-saver for IT teams, who sometimes don’t even need to intervene.

Helps organization meets spikes in demand for apps

From the perspective of the IT team, using app builders might seem like a quick and dirty option – after all, building a solution from scratch always seems like a better way to get exactly what was asked for. But with the increase in demand for enterprise apps the fact is that many teams will find it very hard to cope with taking a handcrafted approach to building technical solutions.
A few years ago, organisations were happy with a single app. More recently, a study of IT teams estimated that a company’s mobile app backlog is of between 10 to 20 apps. Coping with this demand is essential for maintaining innovation and many IT teams are finding the answer in using DIY app builders.

What to look for in an app builder

There are some key differentiators to consider when you’re choosing which app builder to use:

  • The variety of app templates and app components available: check that your chosen DIY app provider has components for the most common uses in your company. For example, if your company runs events, you’ll probably want a DIY app builder that includes event agenda functionality.
  • Compatibility: many DIY app builders are compatible with Apple and Android. If your company’s users are also on Windows Phone devices or something else, make sure it’s covered by the solution you choose.
  • Update options: will updates to your app’s content be easy to implement?
  • Maintenance: choose a provider that will be responsible for making sure your company’s apps are compatible with most devices and app stores on an ongoing basis.
  • Integrations: consider any potential integrations that will be required and ask providers if their platforms can be integrated with other systems.
  • Scalability
  • Storage
  • Publishing methods: If you have an enterprise mobile app store, make sure your DIY app builder can work with it.
  • Security: Enquire about security options, encryption possibilities and methods of authentication available.

For an example of an enterprise app builder, check out Fliplet.