It was just over twenty years ago when I was a startup CTO. We spent the
late 90s building our platform, customer base, and brand during the
internet’s growth years. Then in 2000, the
bubble burst. After years of relatively easy funding and a
competitive-for-everything environment, we were suddenly conserving cash and
looking for efficiencies.
And so I started looking inward, at how our startup was running internally
and seeking ways to use tech and data to improve operations.
Finding inefficiencies where there are no apps or SaaS
I didn’t have to look hard. Back then, there were relatively few SaaS apps
to fill the gaps between core financial and business systems. If it was core
to the business, we were probably configuring it in the ERP or the CRM. If
it wasn’t, it was probably a patched-together workflow involving office docs
Data processing and reporting were worse. If it wasn’t a simple,
out-of-the-box report, then chances are someone was wrangling data in
spreadsheets and sharing bar charts over PowerPoints. A messy cocktail.
I knew tech could help, but there was no way I was going to reallocate Java
developers to build internal workflow applications or reporting. We still
had customers to serve and our customer-facing applications to
Speed and competitiveness did not diminish during the recession that
followed the dot-com bubble, but we had to be much more refined about what
problems we pursued.
Transforming employee experiences require a low-code tech strategy
So I went looking for cheats – how can I build apps, workflows, databases,
and reporting without coding? On a lucky Google search, I discovered
Quickbase and POCed an app for our sales team. These were my first steps
into the low-code and no-code opportunities that have exploded in today’s
I tell several other low-code and product development stories in my new
Digital Trailblazer. There are stories on building customer-facing
applications, citizen data science programs, and dataops -all using low-code
and no-code technologies.
Using low-code tech to speed up during a recession
Today, we’re in the early stages of another recession. Maybe – but it sure
feels that way. The CIOs I advise and talk to regularly are planning as if
the recession is already here. After the pandemic, supply chain issues, and
dramatic shifts in customer expectations, smarter and faster CIOs sense the
tea leaves and plan ahead for different business scenarios.
Here’s the question, data, and recommendation
I shared on LinkedIn
Should CIO slow down their digital transformation initiatives?
With 9.1% inflation (WSJ), big tech putting on the hiring freeze
(Microsoft, Facebook, Google to name a few), and big drops in startup
funding (Q2 funding decreases by 23% QoQ via CBInsights) – CIO will be
under pressure to reset their programs.
IMHO, pivot and adjust priorities. Focus efforts. Reset visions and
goals. Develop your team and evolve practices.
But don’t slow down. Speed up in the areas that matter.
While low-code, no-code, citizen development, and citizen data science are
used by many CIOs, IT leaders, and Digital Trailblazers, many organizations
still have ways to go in making them a pillar of their digital cultures and
Rolling out low-code requires specialized tech and data leadership skills
I can see some of the challenges from
a recent survey I completed
during a CIO workshop. When I asked, “How do your business departments
typically view data?” and asked respondents to select their top two, their
top response was, “Spreadsheets they developed themselves,” reported by 53
percent of respondents.
It’s a challenge, and in fact, 40 percent of respondents said, “Business
leaders just want IT to fix the data” as a top collaboration challenge. When
I asked whether CIOs have the tech and data leaders ready to take on roles
citizen data science centers of excellence, the top response reported by 33 percent was that they were lacking these
Attention Digital Trailblazers – and attention to the executives that need
Digital Trailblazers to lead transformation initiatives! “Don’t slow down.
Speed up in the areas that matter!” There’s no better time than now to make
citizen technologies a transformation
Here’s how to start: Find the business workflow gaps that matter and
identify leaders that are ready to partner on a rapid implementation.
Involve them directly in an agile process to select platforms (if you don’t
have one already) and iterate on the implementation.