Unless your app is connected to your relevant and continuously expanding data sources, it is half baked, with no substance. It’s like a Formula One race car without any fuel. Like spaghetti without meatballs. Like yin without any yang. So whether you’re a line of business or IT professional, you already understand how much data matters. It’s what sets you apart, defines and differentiates your business. So, having fast and easy access to that data─whether it’s connectivity to your CRM database or access to other systems of record─is essential to driving your larger business objectives.
Here are my top three tips I’d like to share with you to help you build amazing, data-driven applications.
If you know anything about data and the explosion of data, then you also know that setting up connectivity with all your data sources is complicated and time consuming. But the pressure is on to get compelling apps out the door fast. The good news is that a best-in-class Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider can give you a single platform to easily access, connect and manage your connectivity to a wide range─including in-network or cloud-based─data sources or a combination of both, without having to do any painful, clunky firewall configuration. And while SaaS-based business applications such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, HubSpot, Marketo and many other popular cloud-based systems are invaluable to your bottom line, truth is, they complicate your data integration efforts. As you build your business application, using a premium data connectivity service gives you a standard way to access the data that resides in the cloud or in your internal infrastructure, eliminating the need for custom integration and saving time. Lots of time.
Not only do your applications require access to multiple data sources, they need the connectivity to be lightning fast. For example, retail or sales support apps need to pull up-to-the-minute data from customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, inventory databases and social networks. Similarly in financial services, new applications must have rapid access to account databases, portfolio inventories and third-party data. If not, you can end up with out-of-date information and flawed results.
Here’s the caveat. To fully embrace a high-efficiency philosophy, you need more than just real time access to the latest data, you need to save time. And when faced with managing each and every application (on premise or in the cloud), each with different APIs and multiple versions, you can blow a lot of valuable developer time and energy (and money!) on data integration. The changes across all these data sources are simply too frequent to manage well and often can negatively impact overall system performance.
With the continued explosion of new application requests in the queue, you need a way to free IT from manually setting up and managing access to these ever-changing data sources. One way to overcome these challenges is by partnering with a provider who offers a cloud-based data connectivity service as part of their application development solution. A single, unified platform can give you the lightning-fast connectivity and simpler data integration management you need for your business applications.
When you adopt a PaaS application development platform that has data connectivity built in, your developers no longer have to write complicated code for each data source for every application they build. This means they can focus on ensuring business logic is robust and applications themselves are efficient and running well. Instead of dealing with the complex nuances of data connectors and extractors, developers can concentrate on anticipating customer requirements and continuous innovation. In other words, developers are free to focus on cool projects that help grow the business.
Whether you are IT or a LOB, it’s in your organization’s best interest to create a model that is efficient and as productive as possible. That’s what a PaaS platform can do for your app dev efforts. A top provider will support both technical business developers developing LOB apps and more experienced coders developing complex, enterprise application. (More on that on an upcoming BizApps Today blog post!)
For more tips about using a cloud-based application development approach to drive higher productivity, you should read my recently published white paper “Five Paths to Higher Productivity with PaaS.” Check out my previous blog post about “Top Three Ways to Improve Developer Productivity.” Now that I’m leading the DataDirect business unit, look for my detailed posts about Progress DataDirect capabilities on the Data Connections blog.
It’s always interesting to hear from you and your experience, either with Progress technology solutions or from other vendors. What has your organization’s strategy been to foster rapid application development and deployment? What kind of cool apps have you developed?
Michael Benedict is the President of the Data Integration Business Unit of Progress Software.
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