In today's tech-driven world, moving to the cloud isn't the final destination; it's where the real journey begins for organisations. It's the starting point for a transformation that unlocks possibilities previously hindered by outdated systems and in-house limitations. At the heart of this transformation is cloud software development, a rising trend that equips developers with potent tools to create, deploy, and expand applications. It also offers customers the agility needed to adapt to changing user demands, cost-effectiveness, and tech upgrades.
This article navigates the world of cloud software development through three key pillars: modernisation, usability, and future-proofing. Additionally, it uncovers how Idea 11's approach, which treats software development as an ongoing product, leads to long-lasting success. Starting from the very beginning with getting started in the cloud, this article shines a light on the world of cloud software development and why it should be prioritised for your business.
Modernisation through cloud software development: Getting started in the cloud
Amid growing challenges and a somewhat uncertain economic environment, forward-thinking businesses and government agencies are realising the true potential of cloud-based software development in the modern marketplace to boost efficiency, improve customer experience, access new markets with their products, and better service their customers or citizens.
While businesses relying on legacy systems may fear they’ve been left behind with IT solutions they've already outgrown, the good news is that it's never too late to modernise through cloud adoption and cloud software development.
What is modernisation in the context of cloud software?
Organisations looking to modernise their software and apps while avoiding the costs and time drain of a full-scale build-from-scratch can begin with moving their applications from on-site servers to cloud services. This process is known as a "lift and shift" and permits organisations to incrementally modernise their software, taking advantage of the cloud's benefits and incorporating newer capabilities. However, true modernisation incorporates a general cloud-first approach to developing, testing, and running in the cloud environment. Partners with capabilities such as DevOps consulting services can help facilitate this migration.
Cloud software development takes modernisation in the cloud one step further. Cloud-native development practices, like microservices architecture and containerisation, play a pivotal role in achieving this transformation. It empowers organisations to harness advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics, enabling them to make data-driven decisions, automate processes, and gain a competitive edge by creating and delivering a product that’s not only efficient but built with a user-centric focus.
In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, staying relevant requires a commitment to ongoing modernisation, making cloud software development an imperative strategy for future success. So, let's explore the key aspects of this transformative journey and why it's essential for businesses and government agencies to embrace it wholeheartedly.
Prioritising usability through cloud software development: In practice
One of the leading benefits of cloud software development is the capacity to focus on user-centric design and usability. User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are intrinsically linked to user adoption and satisfaction. By understanding the needs, behaviours, and preferences of users, cloud software developers can build solutions that are more efficient, accessible, and engaging. This in turn creates higher rates of user confidence, positive feedback, reduced abandonment, and faster onboarding.
As an AWS partner and Microsoft Azure cloud consulting partner, Idea 11 were contracted by a leading Australian council to facilitate a rebuild of a mobile app riddled with problems and a low satisfaction rate from both users and stakeholders. It was clear that the main problem was that the usability of the existing app was sub-par and created a barrier between those wanting to use it with the information they sought. From this point of understanding, user experience was prioritised in the rebuild by:
- Working from a human-centric approach, analysing usability and how users were approaching features
- Focusing on using native app features to drive a sense of familiarity and a simple and elegant design, to reduce levels of customer frustration and disappointment, with a particular focus on interface navigation
- Deploying our cloud, mobile app development, and UX expertise to meet customer expectations
- Created a new Report a Problem feature where rate payers can report common community problems such as water leaks, potholes and graffiti directly in the app. Automatically triaging these issues saves the Council time and money by bypassing their call centre
- Ensuring usability is monitored and included as part of the feature roadmap for future app upgrades
Through this example, it’s clear to see how user feedback and prioritisation of usability help developers create software tailored to meet the users' needs. And the numbers speak for themselves. The app has achieved over 33,000 downloads across Android and iOS (more than double the previous download rate) and has seen a sharp increase in positive store ratings. The full case study can be read here.
Future-proofing: Building for long-term sustainability
Another benefit of cloud software development is how easily it can future-proof a product. It’s best to establish a framework of relevant tools and strategies up front that can facilitate flexibility and agility to adapt to future changes in technologies and requirements.
"When we think about longevity for a product, we need to draw on not just our own experience and expertise, but to actively go out and look for best practices that we may not have used before. Open-mindedness in methods is so important to Idea 11 that we only recruit those that look outside their experience for the answer.” Marcelo Romera, Senior Agile Project Manager at Idea 11.
When working with the council partner, some of the following best practices for future proofing the app were enacted:
- Using a wholly native build, internal components were leveraged, meaning the client would not have to rely on any outside tech or third parties to continue growth and user acquisition— further reducing costs and dependency. Additionally, the app code can be re-used for updates and features.
- Consistent testing of UI and internal testing of new features to stop bugs from disrupting future updates.
- Facilitated backend reporting with a simple document-upload pathway, enabling customers to find answers within the app framework.
Reframing Projects to Products
Thanks to the enhanced methodology of cloud software development, what would once be seen as a project can now be re-framed as a living, breathing product. By doing so, a greater emphasis is then placed on the need for ongoing investment, maintenance, and upkeep to boost value and deliver ROI.
Some of the critical distinctions between project-based and product-based development include:
- A project is limited in time frame and scope, whereas a product is an ongoing exercise with a potentially indefinite lifespan.
- A project is more clearly defined and limited by specifications, whereas a product is a far more flexible offering able to pivot to meet changing customer needs or market opportunities.
- The completion of predetermined goals measures the success of a project. In contrast, the success of a product is ever-changing, measured by its continual evolution, focus on customer value, and adoption of upgrades and best practices.
“With digital products, there is often a project to initiate their creation, however after they are created, the digital product lives on. Digital products require constant adjustment to succeed in the long term. They’re never really done.” Idea 11 Founder, James Khan.
Through expert cloud consulting services, clients can redefine their cloud software development as an asset-building process instead of a singular project by helping facilitate constant adjustment, which could be carried out by the customer. Whether harnessing data for new insights or utilising Idea 11’s TechOps to maintain and improve systems, the necessity of keeping software ‘alive’ to meet the demands of the changing landscape is front and centre.
Strategies for developing self-updating products
Building products using cloud software development that internal teams can update empowers clients to improve their software without heavy reliance on external developers.
The benefits of creating this capability within the customer team are:
- Greater cost savings
- A stronger feeling of ownership and knowledge transfer throughout the team
- Greater agility with faster iterations turned around in response to feedback
- Encourages innovation and creativity within teams
Some strategies and best practices used at Idea 11 for building and facilitating self-updating software include:
- Creating quality documentation: Creating a developer handbook with quality principles and guides for teams to follow in every project. This helps newcomers follow best practices and creates consistency across the cloud software development process.
- Establishing a deployment process: Building a development environment where clients can conduct deployment and regression tests to ensure the updates they want to implement fit seamlessly.
- Hyper care facilitation: After the deployment of updates, clients should be provided the tools to analyse customer behaviour and feedback. This allows for a thorough assessment of the updates' performance and the impact on user experience.
- Beta environment: Providing the customer with a beta environment allows any updates to be market tested before being released on the production app. For the council app, a group of individuals only use the beta app and then provide feedback.
- Roll back plan: It is always wise to prepare a roll-back plan in case the updates do not work as anticipated. This is an additional safeguard to the beta environment as it may take time for a problem to present itself.
- Feature optimisation: Features are built specifically to give clients the power to optimise as they wish. For example, our council client can add and remove information on waste and recycling facilities, including up to date information on how to dispose of specific materials.
Choosing Idea 11 for your cloud software development
"We're not just consultants. We're partners working with our clients, sharing both the wins and the losses. When customers take on new projects and explore development options internally, it's a great sense of pride for our team, Marcelo Romera, Senior Agile Project Manager at Idea 11."
Cloud software development is a game changer for business and government organisations looking to build out their digital offerings, improve efficiency and modernise.
To take the next step, get in touch with Idea 11 regarding your cloud software development and mobile app development projects, or read more on this exciting council project in the case study. Idea 11 is a leading AWS and Azure partner for businesses all over Australia - in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Our cloud consulting services also extend to AWS and Azure cloud consulting, DevOps consulting services, and helping customers get value out of their data with our leading Data and Analytics consulting services. Contact Idea 11 today to see how we can help.