It is both an exciting and a confusing time to be a line-of-business (LOB) manager. A recent study by Forrester found that LOB professionals don’t always agree with the operational technology (OT) or IT security teams about who is responsible for what in their device-connected networks. Almost half (45 percent) of IT respondents think LOB staff should be responsible for IoT default configurations.

Why? Most likely because the IT department is already swamped with too many tasks and would like to offload some of its work. This represents a trend away from dependency on IT staff that LOB pros are already experiencing. As those responsible for operational technology (OT) that runs specific business lines, LOB managers are turning to software tools and apps to build solutions for their on-the-job needs.

In that light, let’s explore the role of custom app platforms in this field and how LOB workers are using them.

What has gone before...

In their role providing OT, LOB managers know their workload, know what they’re up against and have the capacity and creativity to model those issues and solve them very effectively. They generally have many creative ideas about how they can execute on their business and workflows. They also have a general sense of impatience about having to wait on others to solve their business problems.

But traditionally, they’ve had to wait on an external IT agency to deliver the solutions on a custom level. That can negatively impact their business – sometimes in a big way. They need solutions now, not eventually.

However, the traditional spreadsheets, desktop databases and other productivity tools don’t really model the workload very well. Line-of-business professionals want custom apps; they want solutions that are specific to their business. But finding a developer who understands their business as well as they do is essentially impossible. So then, using a platform that doesn’t require extensive programming experience is about taking ownership of the problem and solving it themselves.

One of the key problems that line-of-business managers have is the fitness of apps for the workload in their businesses. There is demand for a custom solution, but there isn’t enough supply. Finding someone who can deliver for them in a timely manner is difficult, so one of the benefits of a custom app platform is that it enables the manager to take control.

As mentioned earlier, business demands today are bigger than ever, and this creates a time crunch that IT can’t keep up with. One way to offload that key IT burden is if, instead of IT creating all these apps, LOB professionals step in to create the apps themselves. Custom app platforms provide tools to address workflow, mapping of information in external sources and mobile app capabilities.

The custom app platform advantage

Before custom app platforms came along, businesses that wanted to automate processes had to either buy packaged apps—which may not have all the needed features—or hire a consultant to provide custom apps.

But now, businesses can take control of their data and put it to work for them by creating custom apps themselves. This increases productivity rather than employees constantly chasing it. It is possible to scale the apps over time as needed, and these apps offer strong reporting and publishing features. 

A recent survey investigated how businesses are using custom apps and found that the main goal is to streamline their operations. They manage contacts and projects, provide reporting and track what matters to them using their custom app.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed manage projects, tasks and schedules with their apps, and 40 percent use their apps to manage inventory and assets. Fifty-seven percent of respondents use their custom apps to manage customer, client and member contacts, and 52 percent use them for reporting and analytics.

A new paradigm

As job roles in the digital world begin to blur a bit, LOB managers can use this to their advantage by taking the custom app development bull by the horns. They can alleviate confusion about who takes ownership of the company’s custom apps by creating those apps themselves. And why not? They have the intimate knowledge of what their line of business needs to experience greater efficiency and productivity.  

So then, LOB professionals are using custom app platforms to solve their own problems while relieving IT department strain at the same time. They don’t need app development experience; they can jump right in and create solutions that will advance the business’s goals. At the same time, they are gaining valuable skills that can further their careers.