Digital Transformations Being Slowed by Application Backlogs

Research indicates organizations are overwhelmed by an increasing number of software applications needed to support changing IT environments.


For all the talk, vendor promotions and media coverage about the so-called “digital transformation” age of the last five years of this decade, the actual changeover from old-school to new-gen systems isn’t moving nearly as fast as many enterprises would like.

Research by several business authorities, including Gartner, Deloitte and Harvard Business School and companies such as Mulesoft, SAP and Dell Technologies supports this revelation.

A recent example comes from low-code business process management provider Appian, which went public last year in the most successful IT IPO of the year. Appian released research Jan. 29 indicating that despite general optimism about modernizing enterprise environments, organizations are still facing big challenges in meeting business demands, achieving competitive differentiation and coming up with creative features and new products.

Making changes like this while keeping existing systems up and running 24/7 simply isn’t all that easy to do. Companies are finding this out firsthand.

AI, Machine Learning, IoT Projects Top Many Lists

The "Digital Transformation Readiness Survey," sponsored by Appian and conducted by, shows that the most desired new projects for enterprises are:

  • artificial intelligence and machine learning (92 percent);
  • IoT (76 percent); and
  • natural language processing (58 percent).

On the other hand, organizations believe they are understaffed and overwhelmed when it comes to delivering the software applications that will support the desired business transformations. Primary obstacles to transformation readiness were identified as:

  • Inability to keep up with customer demands: 72 percent of respondents don't believe they'll be able to scale their efforts to keep up with business requirements in the coming years;
  • Pressure to fix issues quickly rather than fix them right: 91 percent of organizations struggle with growing technical debt that has accumulated over time in a myriad of ways; and
  • Shortage of skilled workers: 82 percent of organizations can’t attract and retain the quality and quantity of software engineers required

So what can companies do to get past these obstacles? For starters, enterprises can democratize the creation of as much IT as possible to share the load—line-of-business employees can help each other come up with the tools needed to solve these problems.

These tools can be as simple as adding a new data entry box to a form in order to enable less busy work for an employee.

App Backlogs a Common Issue

Issues such as application backlog present a significant challenge for businesses dealing with time constraints and increasing workloads, the Appian report said.

More than 61 percent of survey respondents are saddled with 10 or more new applications or feature requests waiting on the backburner of their application backlog, the report said. More than 20 percent of  respondents have a whopping 50 or more major application development requests waiting to be fulfilled.

Appian claims that low-code development platforms can play a role in helping organizations address these pain points with speed and simplicity. Its drop-down menus and wizards, used in an intuitive fashion, are the keys to building low-code apps and/or features. Changes are made in real time so that results can happen in real time.

“It’s time to embrace digital transformation instead of fearing it,” Appian CEO and founder Matt Calkins told eWEEK.

“Businesses lack the resources required to create the unique applications they need. Low-code platforms fill that gap by simplifying development and deployment. With Appian, organizations can rapidly create powerful applications that allow business leaders to embrace digital transformation rather than fear it.”

To download a copy of the study, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...