Software is fast becoming a key driver of differentiation and innovation. Organizations need to change the way they design, build and use applications and adopt a new operating model that enables business and IT to jointly develop software to enter new markets, reach new customers and drive new growth, according to a new report by consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture.

The report, “The Future of Applications: Three Strategies for the High-Velocity, Software-Driven Business,” includes analysis of the business of enterprise in light of the fact that today’s business world is increasingly high velocity and software driven.

In this environment, the report says, IT is often challenged to innovate and respond quickly to business needs because of its operational obligations.

“When long-term competitive advantage depends on software, being a ‘fast follower’ may not be fast enough anymore,” Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive, Accenture Technology Delivery, said in a statement. “Software strategies are quickly becoming business strategies. The business of applications needs a dynamic and high-impact makeover using new strategies that will help companies not just sustain a business advantage, but to gain ground on the competition.”

To compete based on agility and speed, companies can no longer afford complex, lengthy and expensive coding of applications or massive, multi-year system implementations, the study notes. What’s needed is a new way to build software faster with reusable components that allow for the rapid assembly of applications in support of dynamic business needs.

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