The No-Code Way to Building a Digital Business
Updated: Jul 6
By: Siddharth Wadehra, Steer Head of Research
The dawn of the digital economy means connecting data, people, and processes at digital speed. While most companies have some kind of digital transformation strategy already in place, it is perhaps no surprise that most of these goals bite the dust. A recent study by IDG reveals that 89% of organizations have plans to adopt a digital-first business strategy . Despite this intent to go digital, another study revealed that only about 7% of companies have fully implemented their digital transformations  and a staggering 70% of all digital transformation initiatives fail , often resulting in a massive drain to the organization’s resources. In fact, a Harvard Business Review article  goes on to suggest that of the USD 1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation initiatives in 2018, an estimated amount of USD 900 billion was wasted when initiatives did not meet their goals.
This is a huge problem – companies with some of the smartest tech talent and with copious resources are struggling with their digital transformation initiatives. With competition beefing up and nimble startups staking their claim in the pie, these challenges are often magnified by evolving consumer preferences. Shrinking margins and the advent of black swan events like the pandemic have pushed companies at the very brink of extinction. The new age CEO finds himself in unfamiliar choppy waters with stakeholders on one end asking for improved quarterly results and higher value creation, and customers on the other with their never ending need to be served more conveniently.
What if there was a way to reduce risks and costs and start having results from the first month itself? We at Steer have been very passionately in helping companies fast-track their digital transformation initiatives. Our experience with working with companies across industries has helped us come up with a cheat sheet to help companies bootstrap their digital transformation and build digitally connected businesses.
The following steps explain key aspects which companies should implement to minimize any perceived risk to their excruciating digital transformation initiatives and start with quick wins right from the first month itself.
1. Take stock of existing core systems and identify the gaps
A good first step to the low-code approach to bootstrapping digitization would be to take stock of existing core systems and resources within the company. It could be the existing ERP systems or perhaps systems which support teams at the department level, for example – Accounting systems, payroll systems, HR systems or inventory systems. You could also explore whether the existing system is optimally performing the activities which it is tasked with and removing challenges for the team which uses it on a daily basis.
Once that is done, identify the pockets in the organization with little or no technology intervention. These would typically be the teams which are still doing a majority of their tasks without any kind of automation and mostly manually, giving rise to various inefficiencies. Once you have identified the gaps in the organization, it is now time to explore alternatives with which one might be able to plug the existing gaps in the IT ecosystem of the organization.
2. Subscribe to SaaS core systems that are missing or need replacement
After identifying the gaps in the company’s IT ecosystem, the next logical step would be to plug those gaps with solutions. While you may be tempted to ask your IT to help develop it and to tailor it to suit your exact requirements or look for an off-the-shelf solution, a better option would perhaps be to subscribe to SaaS platforms which would help complement the specific requirement. Some of the benefits include seamless integration with the ecosystem which most SaaS platforms offer. Not to mention, they are cheaper than any of the custom development or off-the shelf purchase alternatives and usually come with a trial period to explore whether the solution might suit your requirements. Once your immediate requirements change or evolve, you could either subscribe to a more expensive version of the SaaS solution or look for an alternative SaaS solution to serve your needs.
3. Roll out pre-built apps for common operational needs for the identified gaps
Once you have identified the SaaS solution to subscribe to, you might want to roll out pre-built apps to plug in the identified gaps. The roll-out process includes training and change management, ensuring that the team members who would be using the app on a daily basis have been trained on the various nuances of the proposed application. If you are using a platform like Steer, pre-built templates would allow you to assemble and launch the app in a matter of hours, if not minutes. The templates are so intuitive and easy-to-use that it requires a minimum level of training for the end-users to incorporate in daily operations.
4. Custom build unique apps (workflows and databases)
With all the basic needs now taken care of, it’s now time to focus on specific areas where automation could complement human effort. This could perhaps be more unique to the industry your company functions in or perhaps even distinctly unique to your organization as well. Typically, a low-code / no-code platform would allow you to take care of your unique technological requirements for the specific business needs by allowing you to build these applications using minimal time and effort. These apps could be specific workflows which might need automation or databases with logic and decision matrix built into them.
A no-code app builder platform like Steer would allow you to custom build unique apps to cater to the innovation needs of your business without exorbitant investments in tech infrastructure or man-power. With a little help from IT, citizen developers in your organization would be empowered to launch unique applications to seamlessly orchestrate various distinct elements in your organization.
5. Integrate and automate steps for efficiency and accuracy
Now that most of your current IT requirements are in place, it’s time now to integrate the newly launched applications into the existing IT infrastructure and even the legacy systems. Additionally, the business and the IT teams should optimize these new entrants to ensure that automation is aptly placed across all layers in the newly created enterprise architecture. Completing this step would ensure that the organization is now up to date with digitizing internal operations as the ecosystem would allow data exchange between existing and new applications. Additionally, automation would ensure that any inefficient and error-prone internal processes are now replaced by automated applications and department executives have reporting dashboard at their disposal ensuring real-time data availability to make business decisions which would eventually propel growth. Understandably, citizen developers would now be able to custom build unique applications to keep innovating and experimenting and to keep pace with any startups challenging them in the industry.
6. Extend your digital systems to customers and partners for self-service
The final step in the digital transformation journey of your company would be to extend the applications that you develop to all stakeholders – suppliers, vendors and even customers. This would be key as having all stakeholders included in the digital transformation journey would be critical to the eventual success of the organization. A no-code application platform like Steer would allow for unlimited number of subscribers to the developed applications, implying that all stakeholders could now access the apps which the organization wants to extend to them for their use.
Building a Connected Business- The Steer Way
With a no-code application platform like Steer, citizen developers are empowered to build single record or process apps in a couple of hours. They can move to the next level and build solutions in a matter of days or weeks eventually leading up to connected businesses which could integrate and automate the newly developed systems with other core systems. With this Steer no-code approach to build digital business, it is possible to arduous digital transformation journey almost risk-free, low cost ,and with visible results from the first month itself.
 2018 Digital business survey https://resources.idg.com/download/white-paper/2018-digital-business  https://www.clickz.com/digital-transformation-2019-primer/224247/  https://www.forbes.com/sites/carstentams/2018/01/26/why-we-need-to-rethink-organizational-change-management/#2b783d1ce93c  https://hbr.org/2019/03/digital-transformation-is-not-about-technology