Appian survey: Big obstacles to digital transformation

Application development will be key to winning the digital transformation race but most businesses are far from ready
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

The IT departments of most organizations are unable to meet the business goals of digital transformation because of several major obstacles according to a survey commissioned by enterprise software development platform, Appian.

A lack of IT skills was reported by 82 percent; 91 percent are struggling with technical debt; 20 percent have huge application backlogs of more than 50 new app requests; and 72 per cent said they don't have confidence in being able to scale IT to meet the needs of the business.

"Companies are being told they have to think of themselves as software companies but they can't do that, they have too much in the way as this survey shows," said Matt Calkins, CEO and founder of Appian.

The struggle to stay on top of the old and new IT projects likely explains why 93 percent cited artificial intelligence as their top focus - presumably in hopes of improving the productivity of their IT department.

Applications are the key to unlocking the fruits of digital transformation. Apps become very important for engaging customers and also internally - in raising productivity and effectiveness of each business group.

This has placed enormous pressure on IT departments to produce high quality applications in addition to their many traditional duties. Backlog of more than ten new applications or major feature requests was reported by 61 percent. And those projects typically up to three months just to get started and almost a year to finish.

"The business opportunities from digital transformation will be won by the the first companies to have the apps and infrastructure for business agility. There's too many challenges internally such as technical debt," said Calkins.

Technical debt was reported by 74 percent as the main reason for delays in responding to business needs.

Appian offers a "lego-like" approach it calls low-code to creating custom enterprise applications in as little as ten days.

Appian's app development systems speed up production of apps by using a development process that can be mastered by non-software engineers. Line of business departments can develop their own custom apps without needing much at all from a hard-pressed IT department.

The 2018 Digital Transformation Readiness Survey of 463 respondents was conducted by DevOps.org.

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