By Vaidya Aiyer, Pillir
Supply chains have been indelibly linked to the trend toward globalization for the past several decades, driven by productivity-enhancing technology, reasonably priced multinational labor costs, and efficient logistics. However, businesses across the globe are experiencing supply chain disruptions and a shortage of workers that result in both increased labor and higher transport costs that aggravate inflation. And a potential impending recession doesn’t help this matter. Developers have been tasked with improving supply chain operations by modernizing their companies’ business applications. This comes on top of every day, pre-pandemic responsibilities and tasks that maintain their system. Yet all this has proven difficult to achieve due to a serious shortage of talent.
In the global study “Resilience 2022: Interos Annual Global Supply Chain Report,” organizations identified a multitude of events that have negatively impacted their supply chains in the past 12 months. Without even including the impact of the war in Ukraine, the study estimates that supply chain disruptions cost companies an average of $182 million in lost revenue over the course of the year. In addition, 77% of the companies surveyed claim they will introduce technology in the coming year to address these issues, and “gain visibility into their supply chains.”
Businesses have been forced to shift their strategies toward supply chain resilience. PASA, a global procurement and supply association, notes that companies are seeking the reduction of costs to survive everything from lingering post-COVID issues and economic slowdowns in Asia, to commodity price fluctuations, energy challenges, and global trade disputes.
Resilience Amid A Growing Shortage Of Resources
Creating supply chain resiliency requires the modernization of business processes, not only internally within the organization by way of procurement, logistics, warehouse operations, and movement of goods, but also across supplier networks. This can be a daunting venture for any developer team, especially those working in complex legacy IT environments using ERP (enterprise resource management) solutions. These systems have typically incurred vast amounts of customization, patches, and upgrades, plus they incorporate tons of an organization’s tribal knowledge accumulated over the years.
Many large enterprises built their organizations on the assumption that they could maintain stability among their employees. Every time a developer leaves or staff must be reduced, enterprises lose a certain amount of tribal knowledge regarding the company’s processes and systems. Although companies always have factored this in, the “Great Resignation” manifested at unprecedented levels across industries and geographies in 2021 and early 2022 and is still causing an impact, even as economists debate the repercussions of the current U.S. recession.
Shifts in staff levels, hiring challenges, and the resulting disruption of tribal knowledge can denigrate the daily operations of any organization–in addition to putting a dent in the modernization of business operations. It’s difficult to accomplish anything as new and complex as the modernization of supply chain processes when a company is handicapped by a lack of consistent staffing. The global developer workforce has been severely constrained for several years. Many companies that are seeking to modernize simply can’t hire enough developers to do the job, let alone retain the talent that built these supply chain processes in the first place. And many legacy systems use older code that young programmers aren’t familiar with.
Addressing Developer Challenges With Low-Code Automation
There are several benefits to modernizing the supply chain to achieve resilience, which can be accomplished using low-code integration methods. The modernization of business processes creates efficiencies and can allow companies to localize their supply chains where it’s appropriate, taking advantage of potential tax incentives and local procurement processes. Modernization also helps companies develop more efficient inventory management, warehouse management, and logistics. All this requires new or updated processes with revamped software, which in turn requires skilled personnel.
Thankfully, sophisticated technology offers a viable solution to this problem. Rapid application development methods such as “no-code,” “low-code,” or “transform-code” platforms leverage automation, pre-built blocks of code, and/or SDKs. They give developers a head-start in innovating software, allowing tech-savvy personnel to build light-to-medium level complexity applications using pre-designed blocks. Low-code platforms comprise the same capabilities as no-code but allow developers to write a certain amount of customized code while increasing their productivity by ten to 20 times, depending on the type of low-code tools used.
What developers need to understand is that low-code techniques don’t seek to replace skilled programmers. On the contrary, these plug and play blocks of code allow programmers to automate their more basic, rote tasks, allowing skilled and highly paid coders to focus on more advanced innovations, design, and architecture. It allows the team to do more with the same developer resources—a crucial differentiator in this market. It can help companies complete their modernization strategies even if their IT departments are short-staffed.
Transform code takes this process a step further and addresses the loss of tribal knowledge when key personnel moves on to other jobs. It includes all no-code and low-code capabilities, but also automatically transforms a legacy application written in old programming languages into modern, cloud-native applications. This leverages all the business logic the organization has accumulated in perfecting the application; albeit it has now become an older technology stack. The new, modern web and/or mobile-ready applications can be enhanced very quickly by developers.
Low-code and no-code platforms turn development into a simpler, drag-and-drop process requiring little-to-no programming. Transform-code auto-converts a legacy application into a low-code or no-code object that can be enhanced into a modern application.
As Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The pandemic, the recession, and the Great Resignation may constitute a series of crises, but when the dust clears, companies could find themselves with more efficient and resilient supply chains. These next-gen development techniques can empower organizations to innovate and operate at the speed of business.
About The Author
Vaidya Aiyer is the CEO and founder of Pillir.