Node.js, a JavaScript-runtime environment, has made waves as a disruptive technology ever since its launch. There are indeed strong hopes that this technology is something even more than just a solution for innovative apps. Node.js has the capability to help developing projects that are complete industry shakeups - whether it is in healthcare, finance or travel.

The high hopes for Node.js as a disruptive tech tool that can help in shaking up various industries have some solid grounds. The JavaScript runtime indeed has helped to create many valuable applications in the finance, healthcare and travel industries. Its numerous advantages give it the intrinsic potential not only to innovate, but also to disrupt. Node.js is a disruptive technology in and of itself, but, more importantly, it’s helping to disrupt entire other industries. Here at iRonin, we have been using Node.js in software web application development for a few years now, so we know the ins and outs of this particular technology. We decided to took a closer look at the use of Node.js as a means of disruption.

Disruption - something more than innovation

What is disruption? The term has become omnipresent in recent years with many technologies, industries, companies, applications claiming to be disruptive. It sort of started to be a keyword. The fast and splendid career of this word took off in 1997 with Clayton Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, where he introduced the term “disruptive innovation”.

The crux of disruptive innovation was that successful companies should not only focus on satisfying clients’ existing needs, but anticipate their future, yet unstated desires, they might not be even aware of. With this theory, Clayton wanted to explain how small, upstart companies can enter the market, pose a threat to big, solid brands and displace the whole, firmly established (as it seemed) system.

So how exactly does the differ from run-of-the-mill innovation then? Well, innovative ideas create things. Disruptive ideas are creative, too, but also at the same time destructive. They destroy the existing market, uproot it and change the way humans think and behave. For more on the subject, and how the idea evolved in the 20 years of its existence, read on in Harvard Business Review.

What makes Node.js a disruptive technology?

Let’s have a look at the Node.js advantages that can place this technology among other disruptive ones.

With Node.js, it is easy to develop system architecture, as it allows developers to write in JavaScript for both the server and client side, thus it is easy and convenient to transport data between the two and co-ordinate workflow. This is an efficient solution as well. Many companies appreciate this, as they can have one team of developers working both on the server and client side of the web app. It saves them money by building in the same language.

Node.js is quite straightforward to learn for people fluent in JavaScript, the de facto language of the web. If you have a team of frontend developers, moving them to work between both the frontend and backend of an app with Node.js shouldn’t be a problem. Again - it saves on the costs of hiring new people, training them etc.

It is also highly scalable, as it is capable of handling a huge number of simultaneous connections with high throughput. Additionally, scalability of code can be achieved via decomposing or splitting, and Node.js makes it easy to implement all of these strategies in a large application. Scalability is at the core of this technology. Even the name emphasizes this - it originates from the idea that a Node’s service oriented architecture should comprise multiple small distributed nodes which communicate with each other.

Node.js is highly efficient, as it allows you to serve many queries in a fast manner, all at the same time. Node.js provides a non-blocking IO system that allows you to process numerous requests simultaneously. The system makes concurrent request handling smooth, due to its event loop option. Node doesn’t involve forming separate threads and instead has a single thread - the event loop. The event loop is what allows Node.js to perform asynchronous I/O operations by offloading operations to the system kernel whenever possible, despite the fact that JavaScript is single-threaded. This enables us to take care of major actions in web applications, such as reading or writing to the database or network connections, in a very timely manner, relying on the Node.js event loop suite. In effect, your app will take up much less system RAM and achieve high scalability levels - which means it will also perform faster.

[Speaking of being fast: many companies admire the speed of Node.js. It functions on the V8 engine developed by Google that translates JavaScript into native machine code. ]

Node.js in the finance, healthcare, and travel industries

So how does Node.js, with all of its advantages and disruption potential, fit into some of the biggest industries out there, such as healthcare, travel or finance? Let’s consider Node.js as a technological means of disruption.

Healthcare is a massive market with many legacy applications that are hard to replace by new applications. Node.js has a great potential in rejuvenating these legacy apps. With the efficiency of Node.js, its ability to be used on both the server and frontend sides of an application, and how easy it is to learn (once you know JavaScript of course), it might just be the perfect solution for replacing many legacy healthcare apps. Healthcare applications in Node.js are on the rise.

Additionally, healthcare startups seem to significantly rely on Node.js in order to enable rapid innovation of their apps. Some examples of these such healthcare startups are: Optum, a platform that provides data and analytics, healthcare delivery, and population health management services; OpenCare, an online service that matches patients to the best healthcare service provider nearby that fits their requirements; or Sibly, an application for mental health struggles.

The travel industry is also striving for innovation, transforming itself to meet modern needs. Many market-leading companies choose Node.js to revamp their web apps, and startups also tend to trust this technology. Travel companies like Node.js because it offers good performance and it has the ability to process a lot of requests. It is highly usable in apps that offers flight or holidays search engines, as they have to integrate with a lot of other different pages and handle tons of requests at the same time. Building a Node.js application for the travel market, Pillow Residential now organizes short term apartments rentals thanks to this tech. A famous example of a travel-connected app that was based on Node.js is Uber, who provide taxi driving services, matching drivers that are normal people, without taxi licenses, with clients.

The financial industry is an interesting case, as in recent years incumbent, old-fashioned, huge financial institutions have been disrupted by fintech start-ups. Node.js is quite useful in apps that use real time data calculations and stats - which is often the case in fintech. Some existing fintech companies moved their web apps to Node.js, but mostly fintech startups rely on this technology with 25% of developers declaring that they use Node.js as of 2015. Payments companies are even more into using Node.js, with even mega-brand and market leader PayPal overhauling its system with the help of Node.js. Another example is Capital One, a large banking services provider, that uses Node.js in its project Hygieia, an open-sourced dashboard for DevOps. Node.js usage in the finance industry is only just getting started.

Disrupt your industry with Node.js!

Node.js empowers many organizations and companies in the healthcare, travel and financial industries - among others - to create robust, fast web apps with the potential of introducing innovative solutions or even disrupting the market. Consider using Node.js in your business venture - create a web app that will feed on all of pros of this technology. iRonin has been working with Node.js since the beginning of its journey. Give us a call, we will co-operate with your developers or make a turn-key project for you with Node.js. Innovation with Node.js is in your future.