Application Development

From CIO to CEO: The New Enterprise App Developer

When it comes to being able to spot opportunities for new technologies and software services that would make viable business opportunities, few are in a better position than the CIO. Certainly, CIOs possess the vision to see the vital role technology plays in helping enterprises succeed. And they are experienced in working with nearly every aspect of the business and helping to guide or build IT initiatives.

They also have access to much of the business development, IT development, and engineering talent needed to build a successful tech business. What they often didn’t have was access to capital.

Fortunately, cloud platforms, coupled with app marketplaces, are making that last hurdle a much easier jump to make. In fact, cloud platforms and app marketplaces have significantly changed the start-up equation. Certainly, everyone is aware how cloud has increased business agility and lowered IT costs. But what many don’t pay close enough attention to is how these relatively new trends are also significantly lowering the cost to launch a new business.

Think about it. Today, a viable start-up doesn’t need hundreds of thousands in funding to succeed. And rather than needing teams of developers to build their dream, one or two often will suffice. This is why cloud platforms are an increasing catalyst of innovation among enterprise tech leaders—CIOs, CTOs, and IT architects—who are now able to take their own ideas and launch their own successful ventures.

Couple the agility and speed of the cloud development platform with the additional jump start provided by the rise of app marketplaces (which enable small teams to tap into a broad and powerful marketing and distribution channels, access to thousands of enterprise customers in search of specific solutions, and partner support), and you have as close to a turn-key business as can be.

In working with AppExchange partners every day, I’ve personally watched cloud platforms obliterate the start-up cost and technical talent barriers to enterprise app development. Even with the smallest teams working on the slimmest of budgets, cloud platforms and enterprise app marketplaces have enabled these developers to manifest their business in what would have been unbelievably rapid time just a few years ago. I’ve seen this with businesses that range from scuba shops to hotel management to banking software.

Take nCino, for example, a cloud-based banking software maker that was conceived out of a simple idea to improve an existing business process. When Live Oak Bank launched in 2007, it became clear to both the bank’s IT and executive teams that considerable inefficiencies had to be wrung out of the bank’s traditional long origination process.

Live Oak Bank’s IT team started examining its existing system in hopes to streamline the loan application process, but couldn’t find all it needed, at least not affordably or without considerable integration costs. The bank’s IT and executive teams decided to build their own custom application on the Salesforce Platform, to manage the entire workflow necessary for loan processing. This custom-built app that transformed Live Oak Bank’s loan application process became the core product of nCino’s business today.

Previously, if a team founded such a software company, not only would it have to build all of the infrastructure required within very expensive data centers, but if it was a business launching in finance, banking, health care, critical infrastructure, or other regulated industries, much of the operation would be even more expensive to build to comply with regulatory mandates.

Because cloud platforms come with so much of the infrastructure and business logic already available, they enable developers to fully focus on their ideas and on the core aspects of their business. They can focus on their customers’ needs, not technology. This increases the value they can provide, and the speed at which they can do it. As such, nCino’s CEO Pierre Naudé estimates that it previously would have taken up to five years to productize nCino’s banking software, which the Live Oak Bank team completed in less than 12 months. In addition, Naudé believes that with its first round of investments, nCino can get its business to cash flow break-even, if not profitable, without having to raise any additional capital.

Now, take those technical benefits, and couple them with the business and marketing benefits derived from app marketplaces and the potential is undeniable.

When one steps back and looks at the countless cloud businesses launched in the past few years, it may be hard to believe, but I think we’re just getting started. It’s an exciting time to be a start-up and that is only going to accelerate with the rise of cloud platforms and enterprise app marketplaces. Everyone benefits from an explosion in innovation and start-ups that spawn organically, or spin out of internal IT initiatives just like nCino, proving that anyone – even the CIO or CTO – can become the next big enterprise app CEO.


Sara Varni is Senior Director for AppExchange at


« European Datacentre Options Appeal in the Post-NSA World


Are You Really Measuring Your CEO? »
Sara Varni

Sara Varni is Senior Director for AppExchange at

  • Mail

Recommended for You

Future-proofing the Middle East

Keri Allan looks at the latest trends and technologies

FinancialForce profits from PSA investment

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Amazon Cloud looms over China: Bezos enters Alibaba home ground

Lewis Page gets down to business across global tech


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?