The new BYO push: build your own software

Survey shows widespread support for custom development; cloud and mobile spur more, not less, of it.

It may go against the grain of everything we've been hearing the past 20 or 30 years, but the future of software is made for purpose, custom designed.

Photo: Michael Krigsman

At least that's what at least 87 percent of 306 IT executives participating in recent survey seem to be saying. The survey, sponsored by Appian, defines custom software as "applications that must be built by either a company's internal IT team or through outsourced development because the required functionality cannot be purchased through a packaged software offering." Eighty-seven percent of IT leaders said that building their own software was essential to innovation, and 97 percent expressed confidence in using custom software, with 94 percent likely to recommend its use.

Of course, this may come as no surprise to a developer in a large corporate IT shop, who is busier than ever churning out new apps for clients across the enterprise. Plus, if you think about it, the trend toward customization has been gaining momentum since the concept of service orientation first entered mainstream consciousness. That is, entirely new solutions can be rapidly put together from existing, reusable components. The idea that vital pieces of applications could be broken out and abstracted as flexible services meant functionality could be brought in or updated independent of any big honking packaged apps taking up the data center underneath.

Now, the trend is extended through cloud services, open or public APIs, and mobile computing, which means applications can be relatively quickly spun up and projected out to end-users as they are needed. Not to mention the fact that many organizations -- even those in non-tech areas -- are rapidly becoming software companies in their own right,

Still, building one's own software -- even from pre-configured components -- isn't as simply as snapping together LEGO blocks. The survey also finds that 72 percent of IT professionals acknowledge that traditional development solutions are too slow, and this prevents them from infusing their companies with digital business innovation.

More than half of respondents (52 percent) are more likely to use custom software over pre-packaged software. The top benefits of leveraging custom software include efficiency of software (53 percent), designing to serve unique need (51 percent) and ability to make enhancements (46 percent).

Seven in ten respondents report that their company will invest the most in cloud-based application development programs (70 percent) and in custom software solutions (66 percent) over the next five years.

In addition, 91 percent of respondents believe a new market is emerging for modern cloud-based application platforms that "dramatically reduce the time and cost required to build, deploy, and maintain custom software solutions." Nearly half (46 percent) report their companies have migrated or are in the process of migrating to a cloud-based application development platform.