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Simplifying Manufacturing IT

Part One.


Single-Page Websites and No-Code Platforms for a Web 2.0 world.


Ian H Smith

In this first of my blog posts, dedicated to Simplifying Manufacturing IT, I start with two fundamental areas: 'Single-Page Websites' and 'Software-as-a-Service' (SaaS) apps. In later posts we will talk about more advanced concepts, such as 'Servitization'.

Simple Thinking

Way back in the early-2000s, we had the original thinking behind something called 'Web 2.0'. When Tim O'Reilly first talked about Web 2.0, he was describing the ability for non-tech people to collaborate and share information online. It signalled a new, simplified world of IT.

Although not specific to advanced manufacturing, I see Web 2.0 and a need to counter the bloat from IT industry Complex Thinking as crucially important to manufacturers, as they adopt the next generation of digital innovations.

Unfortunately, many digital agencies, IT services firms have lost sight of the essence of Web 2.0. making Web design (and all things IT) a complex and expensive world, where maximising billable people hours is the driving force for these organisations. We need Simple Thinking to counter this rising tide of complexity - in pursuit of getting more value for less spend in manufacturing IT. And there is an opposing force that reinforces the best of Web 2.0: the 'Single-Page Website'. This is the Strikingly Single-Page Website Platform.

About Strikingly

Since Strikingly launched its Single-Page Website Platform, it has grown from strength to strength. It's recent Series A+ funding round has paved the way for significant expansion globally. In reading this blog post and Being Guided Website you are looking at a Single-Page Website - plus a and easy-to-use Strikingly Blogging Platform. All of this runs globally on the trusted Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud.

If you click through the links at the top of the main Website, you are effectively being moved from one tagged area in the Single-Page Website to another. It is fast, since only one page is loaded for the entire Website (excluding the Blogging Platform). See infographic below.

In defending Simple Thinking, beware of traditional tech people who talk about problems related to 'Search Engine Optimisation' (SEO) with Single-Page Websites. There are things to look out for, when considering SEO and 'Keywords', to attract the right visitors to a Website, but this is easily done and will be a topic for later, outside of the scope of this particular blog post. Otherwise, this is a false objection - usually offered by those trying to preserve Complex Thinking and high-cost Website design and publishing.

Strikingly has inherent limitations versus expensive, ground-up coded Websites, and standard templates can reduce the choice of overall look-and-feel. However, a 'Frontend Developer' injecting HTML code into the Web pages is a way to overcome this limitation in exceptional situations. The underlying 'Cascading Style Sheet' (CSS) code that Strikingly have created as reusable business logic software for non-expert developers, means that each Strikingly-based Website published is truly 'Responsive'. Being Responsive simply means that the Website will work correctly across all device formats: desktop or laptop PCs; tablets; and, smartphones. A lack of Responsiveness bedevils many hand-crafted Websites!

Citizen Publishers

When you sign-up for a Strikingly Website, you will see how the User Interface (UI) has been created for a 'Citizen Publisher' in true Web 2.0 style. Now let's dispel another myth propagated by the IT industry dinosaurs addicted to billable people hours: Strikingly Single-Page Websites are NOT limited to smaller organisations.

Large enterprises and government agencies can empower a wider number of non-tech employees, partners and customers as Citizen Publishers with Strikingly. In turn, this means that a Single-Page Website can also become a 'Single-Focus Website': a 'Microsite' designed and published around a specific product, service, event or topic. See 'Edge Apps' below.

Citizen Developers

Just as Strikingly simplifies Web design and enables Citizen Publishers to create Single-Page Websites, 'No-Code Platforms', such as Salesforce Lightning Platform, or 'Low-Code Platforms', such as Simplicite, enable non-programmers to create Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Web and mobile apps. At Being Guided, we combine Strikingly-based Websites with Salesforce Lightning Platform-based SaaS apps for advanced manufacturers and other industries.

This means that we need less coders and more 'Design Thinkers': people who can better explore and define a business problem, and translate this to a Service Design that may be instantly created as any combination of Website and No-Code or Low-Code SaaS app. See my Design Thinking blog post for more about digital innovation.

When simplifying IT and applying new digital innovation, the advanced manufacturer should think about No-Code, Low-Code and Code in that order: No-Code first. The trade-offs between templated Web designs and prebuilt modules for SaaS apps versus custom Web design and software app development are clear - where cost-savings can be 10x or more for the advanced manufacturer.

Edge Apps

If you would like to know more about how to become a Citizen Publisher or Citizen Developer and create your first Single-Page Website with Strikingly, or SaaS app with the No-Code Salesforce Lightning Platform, then let's look at different real world scenarios (more to follow in future blog posts) for the advanced manufacturer. This is quick wins from creating and publishing 'Edge Apps': effectively, those Single-Page Websites and No-Code/Low-Code Platform extensions to 'Core Apps' - e.g. say, a SAP or Microsoft Dynamics 'Enterprise Resourcing Planning' (ERP) system, or similar.

Edge Apps are a broad class of digital innovations for the advanced manufacturer, ranging from marketing solutions with Single-Page Website through to shopfloor automation and Servitization with the 'Industrial Internet Of Things' (IIOT). Through combining simple technologies, such as Strikingly and Salesforce Lightning Platform, Edge Apps lend themselves to rapid innovation through applying 'Design Thinking' - a pragmatic method for 'Service Design'.

The simplest example here is 'Market Edge': creating a range of Single-Page Websites to more easily support market-facing activities.

Market Edge

To apply Edge Apps to the market-facing area of the advanced manufacturer - and keeping Simple Thinking uppermost in mind - this can start with a step-by-step transformation of the company Website, where the existing Website may remain as a Core App, but where tactical Single-Page Websites are rapidly added - and changed - as illustrated in the infographic below. This will avoid any issues related to complex integrations with other services or Core Apps and allow the freedom to explore - hence, what we can describe as the firm's agile, digital 'Market Edge'.

Strikingly-based Microsites (and blog posts) may be rapidly created as Single-Focus Websites, supporting market-facing initiatives for events or campaigns with prospects, customers and/or partners, as appropriate. This enables online content to be created by Citizen Publishers, with Design Principles established in tailored Brand Guidelines.

In summary, by introducing Single-Page Websites and No-Code Platform-based Software-as-a-Service' (SaaS) apps, the manufacturing firm can achieve measurably more, for less IT spend - faster.

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