Solutions aiming to increase developers' productivity entered the market in the 1990s. The appearance of numerous code generators or automatic programming supported sharing within development teams and allowed for assistance in modelling the business need, mapping HMIs (Human-Machine Interfaces), and helping developers manage access to databases.
At that time, there was no DotNet, Java, or anything similar. The Internet didn't exist either, and the world of informatics was still getting its bearings in terms of language. A developer, properly speaking, was a creator of raw concepts equipped with know-how and low-level language.
In two decades, the situation has changed completely! The ‘Dev's’ environment has standardised itself in two large communities: .Net for the Microsoft universe and Java for everyone else. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, developers no longer face their problems alone. The possibility of interacting with a community of experts to find solutions has led to development through reuse (with the concept of patterns). The developer’s job has moved on from conceiving to assembling.
While conception is a skill that can be learned, reuse requires a completely different effort. In this context, the two main challenges are knowing that solutions exist and being able to put them to work.
For players in the fields of finance and insurance, is it a real advantage to rely on development through assembly rather than on custom-made applications that are completely dedicated to business needs?
The reality in this area is that needs change. As with everything, the onset of change has to occur gradually. Whether it's in the area of developing customised applications or in that of software packages, developers are always dealing with a mixture of standards and specifications. Nowadays, every application is going to rely on some mechanisms and concepts that are common to the majority of market players. The ‘Dev’ environment consists of international players, who particularly define the concept of supply: many pieces of applications dedicated to finance are identical.
Choosing a 100% customised development approach will certainly respond to all aspects of the needs expressed by a client, but it will be costly. A 100% package-based approach, which, by the way, only exists for relatively simple and standardised needs, will never completely satisfy a client who is constantly seeking to stand out from his or her rivals.
In this context, taking the middle path makes sense. The issue at stake is to develop solutions while possessing the ability to assemble a maximum level of components, which respond to the client’s demands, and to retain a certain flexibility in the way of addressing the 20% of specifics dictated by the client, the needs at stake or the trends imposed by the market.
All the large-scale players in the publishing world are currently thinking about how to carve up their historic tools in order to place components on the market that can lead to solutions rather than strictly respond to an identified need. In effect, it's much easier to stick to a need with a limited range than to build a universal solution that, for example, will address all the needs of a field as vast as the insurance sector.
We are facing a real revolution! While the market is already offering some rare business components, the supply is far from satisfactory. In this context, Artificial Intelligence, for example, is a flag being flown by the greatest publishers on the market. In effect, the latter are not hesitating to devote considerable expenditure to being the first ones to be able to supply something that allows them to simplify the placement on the market of these complicated tools. However, this revolution is not only focused on advances in technology. It is also being led by the development of behaviour and habits. People are becoming increasingly lazy in the literal sense of the word. Businesses are no longer concentrating on what will make them stand out, but rather on rebuilding what others have already done. Everyone wants to reuse on the one hand and innovate on the other!