Speed is essential for successful businesses. It’s a key factor in both consumer experience and product delivery and can drive the growth of any company. As noted in the book, “Faster, Faster,” “Traditional companies like banks and manufacturers need to move faster to meet the needs of a quickening global economy, especially when it comes to technology.”

Today’s market is moving fast, and speed is critical in two ways. First, digital products need to work quickly. Second, companies need to get new digital solutions to market as fast as possible. With today’s tight IT labor force, moving rapidly in development and delivery is no easy task. Enterprises need to fill this gap and deliver innovative digital products that operate quickly and get to the market faster. And they need skilled personnel to meet aggressive timelines, provide new technology expertise and replace outdated digital products that are losing ground to competitors.

We hear the challenges of moving too slowly time and time again from our partners, and the drivers that are pushing the need for speed are growing. Consumer expectations and increased competition are making speed even more critical.

Consumer Expectations

We live in an era of instant gratification. We expect our favorite shows to load in a second and stream smoothly. We pay membership fees to Amazon to have our packages arrive in two hours, and expect our checks to be digitally uploaded and deposited in our accounts in minutes. The risks to businesses if they do not meet these expectations are significant. Customers compare experiences, expect speed and will move on to competitors if applications or digital platforms are too slow and boring.

Increased Competition

Today, every company has to be a tech company, and the barriers to entry for new digital solutions continue to get lower. Any company that thinks they have a unique digital solution can quickly realize how easily their competitors could roll out and adopt similar features or products. Take social media, for example; geofencing, filters, short videos, payments and instant messaging used to be one-off application features. Not anymore. They are now standard features on most social platforms. Consumers expect digital platforms and apps to be regularly updated with new features and innovations. If not, they will move on to the next shiny new toy.

Here are three critical ingredients that can help your enterprise to develop and deliver faster digital solutions.

Strategic Alignment

Stepping back and understanding the business goals behind the drive to move faster is a key piece of the development process. Getting aligned on business goals and objectives gives the development team insights that will better inform their approach and recommendations. We have a client that is a large global financial services company; they wanted to double their digital revenues. The company planned to build a new app that was able to increase the speed of onboarding for new account holders. Our team built a faster, more secure application and recommended modern features that focused on AI and predictive analytics. The solution sends new offers to consumers based on their financial well-being. While a faster application drove an incremental increase in revenue for new customers, the new feature drove a three-fold increase in digital revenues with existing customers. Having that fresh perspective and the engineering expertise to integrate an instantaneous new feature added tremendous value to the build.

User Research

Developers need to take time to understand user pain points. The discovery process is paramount to building, testing and producing innovative, fast-moving software. While the research process can sound daunting, there are tried-and-true methods to identifying and understanding the challenges users encounter with different applications and digital platforms. Our team includes researchers who use surveys, focus groups and individual interviews to gain a keen sense of how users interact with our partners’ digital offerings in real-world environments. By following these patterns, we are able to quickly identify any friction or lagging technologies to increase speed. This approach also allows us to build for the future and continually ask, “What if …?” for the next iterations of the build, making the next stage easier and delivering it to market faster.

Be Digital-Native

One of the largest fast-food companies in South America recently embarked on a transformation to digitize their inventory system. They were using an inefficient paper-based system to track inventory. They tried many times to change the inventory process manually, using their internal teams. Each attempt failed until they started to think through how they would develop a system from scratch as if they had no paper-based system in place at all. They sent a team of developers to immerse themselves in the inventory process by shadowing the staff, mapping pain points and monitoring inventory levels. By reimagining what a new comprehensive digital system could look like—like a digital native would—they were able to build a tablet application in three months that was immediately operational in its restaurants. Since then, they have been adding new features and processes that have resulted in a 75% reduction in the amount of time required to complete inventory at a restaurant. These small sprints were critical to getting a new solution to market in 90 days.

Making speed a priority in software development and delivery is essential in today’s digital-first economy. Consumers and internal teams expect their go-to applications to operate quickly and stay updated with the latest technology.