Last year, the global app economy reached $693 billion. This staggering number represents the extent to which applications have become the digital lifeblood of organisations around the world, in many instances defining a company’s success in a competitive digital economy.
In the sixth and final episode of the ‘Convergence’ content series, our panel of experts – Nick Cross, vice president of networking and security sales, VMware EMEA, Ralf Gegg, vice president of end user computing sales, VMware EMEA and Scott McKinnon, field chief information security officer and strategist, VMware EMEA – discussed the importance of apps as part of a broader business strategy, how to keep them secure and why we need a new access model to exploit new apps and data.
The next big competitive differentiator
In recent years, app delivery has become a major objective of adopting multi-cloud strategies and gaining competitive advantage. In fact, 88% of executives believe improving their application portfolio directly improves the experience that they can offer to their customers.
If you look at the businesses that are booming – said Nick – they are the ones that have modernised their applications, recognising that to stay ahead of the competition and retain competitive market share it’s all about how they can monetize new services and applications as quickly as possible. “As a consumer, if I am using an app that is slick, efficient and user friendly, I’m going to use it more often”, meaning that app becomes more profitable. And it’s the same for an employee. The services that we use at work via applications should be simple to use and accessible through mobile devices.
This is where the workplace platform that IT uses makes a big difference. Ralf believes that “as a user, you can immediately recognise if an app is written for a hybrid use case or a traditional office environment. It makes a big difference if an app is designed for a hybrid use case because it recognises the form factor that is being used to access and use that app”. A modern digital workplace platform will recognise the form factor, location and bandwidth of the user and provide that information to the app, essentially creating context sensitive user interfaces.
In business today, “it is super important to have an efficient, operationally user friendly and secure app services for your employees and consumers”, said Nick.
So, you’ve developed the application. The next big challenge – and differentiator – is how fast organisations can get those apps into the hands of employees and customers.
Ralf believes that successful implementation is helped by having a focus on delivering a specific app for a specific use case. And companies should be placing more emphasis on the enablement of employees and how they can consume applications. “A modern digital workspace platform can equip IT teams with all the relevant information that is required to ensure the best user experience and performance”. For example, Ralf has worked with customers where the app is the perfect use case but there were compromises from a security perspective, meaning additional processes had to be added for the user. The acceptance of the app was low because it was simply too complex to use”.
On the subject of security, the growing importance of applications in a world of anywhere working and multiple devices means that we have to think about apps differently to how we viewed them a few years ago. Specifically, how do we keep them secure?
Taking a different approach to security
For Scott, the security challenge is two-fold. Firstly, apps today are far more distributed, in terms of the components used to make them. Secondly, we need to consider how these apps are actually created from a development process, which is now automated to a very high degree. So, when it comes to securing them, we need to think not only about what happens when the app is running but also about providing security around the build process. When we come to deploy the app, how can we ensure that we are deploying safe components that are going to deliver those capabilities?
The challenge is to make security pervasive during the development process and it’s the security team’s job to provide guard rails to give developers the support they need to allow them to focus on value creation.
The last piece of the puzzle is of course having the right skills in place to exploit the opportunities of modern apps and a big reason why we are seeing a rise in DevSecOps and the increasing integration of security into DevOps.
Driving business velocity with modern apps
The efficient development, provision and delivery of modernised apps for competitive advantage is the ‘why’ organisations embark on digital transformation programmes. Multi-cloud presents the ‘how’. In a business world where competitive differentiation and advantage are marginal and often short-lived before the next innovation has to be delivered, business velocity is critically important and a secure, efficient and agile app development methodology and engine is how a modern, anywhere org will produce it.
The underlying technology of networking, security and a better way of flexibly consuming the new apps and data – namely digital workspaces – are the building blocks of success in today’s digital economy.
To listen to the conversation in full and all previous episodes of the ‘Convergence’ content series visit https://convergence-a-podcast-by-vmware.zencast.website/.