By Sungard AS
Today, apps are no longer just for games - they are taking on big business. Just as David once felled Goliath with a well-aimed pebble, so too are start-up businesses disrupting their larger, more established rivals with one small, newly developed tool: digital-first apps. Appealing to the end-user – both internally with staff, and externally with customers – apps have transformed business operations, levelling the playing field and giving smaller businesses a chance to compete.
In the banking industry, for example, not only are apps changing the operating models of established banks but the market is seeing the rise of numerous new players – such as Mondo and Atom Bank – which are completely based on apps. Essentially, operating as a 'virtual' bank, they offer a more personalised and supportive user experience that is optimised for smartphones.
This is not isolated to the banking sector. Apps have been gathering momentum and are steadily changing the way our society and workforce interacts – from communication to shopping, healthcare to entertainment. Apps are now big business: the Apple store saw over 100m app downloads in 2015 alone, while Google's equivalent store sold over 200m. Clearly apps represent a serious opportunity for revenue and can be a crucial component in any modern business' go-to-market strategy.
Apps vs Applications: What's the difference? Building a strong foundation
Getting the underlying infrastructure right is critical, offering a strong and robust foundation from which applications can be delivered to an exponentially growing and enthusiastic market. It is, however, easier said than done. When it comes to ensuring your organisation has the right infrastructure to support its applications, there are four key questions to ask…
Firstly, what are your performance demands? For example, if you're simply storing databases then you don't need resources required for mining and analysing data. Similarly, if you're using the application to support a data archive, then performance is a far lower priority than if users are regularly accessing the application.
Next, what level of protection does the data require? Do you have the appropriate security protocols in place? Clearly employee details, or financial results must be kept under heavy encryption but your organisation is unlikely to require the same level of protection for its canteen menu or Christmas party plans, for example.
Another question to ask is whether your organisation is operating in a field where compliance is an issue? If, you require customers to share credit card data then you need an infrastructure than can support PCI DSS regulation. Additionally, are there any geographical restrictions placed on where your data must reside based on the regions in which your organisation operates?
Finally, what are your recovery needs? Should the worst happen, what applications need to be prioritised to ensure the organisation can move forward? Which can wait? It's important to consider not only impact to revenue but also reputational damage, for example – prioritising the recovery of a customer on-boarding system over the existing accounts of current users is likely to do untold harm in the long term.
Ultimately, businesses run on IT and nowadays that means apps and applications – both traditional and agile. In the plainest language: downtime in these applications means the business does not function. Having the right infrastructure is crucially important to the future of all organisations, regardless of sector or size.