For far too long, small businesses had to look at large enterprises and wish they had the resources to make their own apps.
They might have looked at the web apps offered by big banks, for example, and envied the way customers were able to update their accounts and manage transactions.
At an industry conference, an executive from a leading retailer might have talked about how the company had embraced the Internet of Things by collecting and sharing information on “smart shelves.”
It’s possible some small business owners read about a top consulting firm that created an app that allowed it to synthesize all the data about its clientele and use artificial intelligence (AI) to anticipate their needs.
All of these innovations would have seemed out of reach for small businesses, for all kinds of reasons.
Even if they had some developers on staff, or know of a dev shop in their area, the barriers to app development have traditionally been high.
Beyond simply coding, apps required building, managing and scaling sophisticated infrastructure that was costly and complex to set up.
Back end management systems, internal tracking and reporting tools, support for multiple programming languages — the list of investment requirements was high.
Heroku changed all that, in a way that has democratized the opportunity for companies of any size to create innovative applications and make the most of the data all around them.
As a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) tool, Heroku provides all the underlying software and hardware capabilities, resulting in a trustworthy foundation for app development because it connects to Amazon Web Services. This makes Heroku flexible and easy to use so you can concentrate on building great digital experiences for your customers, instead of worrying about all the technical details that make it perform.
Whereas Salesforce Lightning offers a low code platform to create internal apps that are most often used by a company’s employees such as customer service workflows and marketing journeys — Heroku is where businesses can develop their own customer-facing web apps, mobile apps and web sites.
Here are a few examples of what small businesses could do with Heroku today:
You can’t really function as a company in 2022 without having a website. While larger organizations tend to invest considerable time and financial resources to create a digital presence that stands out, small businesses may have felt they were more limited to out-of-the-box solutions or templates.
Heroku’s ability to support numerous open source languages opens up a world of opportunity for emerging firms to create a custom website that is tailored to their business needs. This could include a site focused primarily on driving e-commerce revenue, where Heroku can send purchases and other critical data seamlessly to monitoring and metrics services.
As the business grows, it can keep adding apps that all run on the same single-page architecture to ensure the site loads fast for eager customers.
Agriculture is one of those industries that’s often associated with manual work and old-fashioned processes, but a contemporary farmer could tell you that’s far from the truth.
Running a successful farm means keeping on top of a wide range of factors that include the temperature, humidity, nutrient levels, fertilization and crop rotation. Fortunately, it’s now possible to attach sensors to everything from farming equipment to the leaves of a plant in order to collect and manage data.
Heroku can be used to process the data that travels across an IoT network and ensure it goes stored in the right place. It could also be used to create additional apps that allow farmhands to stay in close communication, or to monitor specific conditions and ensure everything is growing as planned.
Think of a fitness studio that relied primarily on gathering students in its gym every day and the disruption it faced once the pandemic began. The obvious move was to begin offering some kind of virtual class, but there might have been fitness studios that wanted to elevate the experience. Perhaps they wanted to offer animations of certain exercises, or display nutritious recipes that would align with members’ fitness goals.
This might seem like a spin-off business, and creating this kind of app could be daunting. However Heroku was always intended to ease the use of RESTful APIs — the application programming interfaces that send requests between web and mobile applications.
That means the fitness studio could design a prototype of the digital experience it had conceived and even beta test it with some trusted members. Soon, what began as a side project could become the company’s biggest growth engine.
It probably goes without saying, but one of the biggest benefits of Heroku is its tight integration with Salesforce. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a large enterprise or a small business — everything runs better when you’re not constantly trying to connect your business apps to the sales data in your CRM, marketing automation or customer service tools.
Heroku provides a superhighway in terms of data flows directly into Salesforce backends, allowing everything to be synchronized so that your entire application ecosystem works like a cohesive team.
The most successful small businesses are rapidly shifting to a digital-first approach in everything they do. Heroku is a way of doing that without getting mired in checking for security vulnerabilities, scaling infrastructure or responding to failures.
Instead, Heroku lets small businesses compete with the biggest players in their industry — where winning is based on the ability to focus on the experiences customers really want and to deliver on them.