There’s no doubt about it: we’re in the middle of an app revolution, with technology, people and leadership driving it forward.
In essence, every company is becoming an app company, capitalising on web and mobile technologies and deploying user-friendly mobile software that can be used anywhere at any time. Businesses today have better access to more granular information than ever before, with more and more employees getting to use their device of choice to do their jobs.
What’s more, apps define the way businesses work internally and externally, enabling them to operate faster, more efficiently and with greater agility. Labour-intensive workflows, or manual processes that were formerly disjointed, have been digitised and connected, making businesses more competitive and saving time and money.
Enabling this change are solutions such as the Salesforce App Cloud, one of the leading Application Platform as a Service offerings according to Gartner in their recent report. App Cloud is designed to give Senior IT professionals, CIOs, Chief Digital Officers and Chief Architects, a new way for both technical and Line of Business employees to develop and deploy their own business apps.
It gives the employees themselves the power to design the apps that will transform their business processes make a practical difference to their productivity and the way they work.
Salesforce App Cloud is built on a mature PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) infrastructure and technology. Being a cloud-based managed service it means users don’t need to worry about the infrastructure and can instead focus on business and innovation.
Not all apps are the same, so App Cloud brings together a range of solutions to build employee and customer-facing applications as one connected experience, all with the security and enterprise grade features you’d expect.
As mentioned, App Cloud enables both technical and non-technical employees to quickly build the apps they need, in the way they want, and deploy them across the business in just a few clicks.
So, for example, it’s possible for non-technical employees to assemble apps without writing a single line of code, using visual drag-and-drop tools such as Lightning App Builder and Lightning Process Builder.
For more technical users, developers can create apps using their preferred open source language, and leverage tools used to build agile applications such as micro-services and containers. And with Salesforce managing the underlying infrastructure, they can focus on coding their apps, rather than setting up and managing databases, deployment, scalability, and configuration.
Lightning App Builder offers a library of reusable, well-defined components (Lightning Components) that can be combined with components developed in-house or from third parties on the Salesforce App Exchange, the world’s largest app marketplace. App components operate independently, meaning changes can be made to individual parts, as opposed to the whole app, with alterations to the layout and appearance of apps being a matter of drag & drop.
Lightning Process Builder, on the other hand, allows users to build complex workflows into their apps, again without having to write a line of code. With the Process Builder you can do things like create or update a record or log a call; send an email; or submit an item for approval.
The App Cloud framework features built-in support for mobile and social, allowing workers to construct apps and customise them for smart phones or tablets, which means that apps can be used on the road.
App Cloud can help deliver cutting-edge, customer-driven applications that meet key business needs such as worker productivity, data visibility, and automating business processes. The apps themselves can represent a workflow, for example, a customer service activity such as billing; or an HR operation such as employee on-boarding; or a product inspection routine for use on the factory floor.
Not only do tools such as Lightning App Builder allow technical and non-technical users to create and roll out apps quickly, they give the business unprecedented agility and control: the end-user – who is in the best position to understand what they do, and how and why they do it – is the one defining their own workflows and those of their teams.
To help users get the best out of App Cloud, Salesforce has developed a free online learning platform. Called Trailhead, it features videos and online learning resources designed for Salesforce admins, users and developers at different levels of experience. There are over two dozen ‘trails’ to follow, tailored to the user’s role and what they want to achieve.
Finally, Salesforce invites businesses to try out App Cloud for free for 30 days, a platform that is used by Coca-Cola Corporation, Unilever, O2 and Kuoni, among others.
With the free trial, there are no downloads and no software to install, and it includes access to Chatter, Mobile Services, and rich APIs.
So, whatever level of transformation you’re at in terms of becoming an app company, it’s time to enjoy the app revolution and take it to the next level.