modernapplication Archives - BAYPM - OutSystems & Low-Code & Custom Software Development

What Can You Build With Low-Code?

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If you’re here, you’ve probably heard about “low-code” before. If you haven’t, low-code is a software development approach that abstracts and automates application development steps to reduce complexity and accelerate development speed.

As the pressure on IT to deliver more and faster increases, many organizations are turning to low-code development to surpass the barriers imposed by the developer shortage and traditional development tools (you can read more about the pros of low-code in Top 5 Benefits of Low-Code). But, what can you really build with low-code? And what are its limits? 

Low-Code Use Cases

In its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP), Gartner identifies LCAP as a technology that addresses essentially five use cases:

  • Support a citizen development strategy
  • Deliver business unit IT apps
  • Build enterprise IT business process apps
  • Develop fusion team-developed composite applications
  • Build SaaS and ISV applications.

What our experience has taught us is that pure low-code platforms might be okay for building a form on top of a database or putting together a simple web or mobile app, but for more complex use cases, pure low-code tools fall short. For that reason, and based on our customers’ feedback over the last two decades, we’ve been evolving our platform to ensure it meets enterprise requirements and needs.

That said, next, I’ll review the use cases proposed by Gartner and share our vision on what you can deliver with low-code and when you should consider a more complete, modern application development platform like OutSystems.

Can Low-Code Support a Citizen Development Strategy?

Many low-code tools have no-code features embedded to allow citizen developers (non-professional developers with little to no app dev experience) to build simple, B2E applications almost exclusively using prebuilt templates, connectors, APIs, and logic.

So, does low-code support a citizen development strategy? Yes, it does. However, keep in mind that in its pure, drag-and-drop format, citizen development exclusively sponsored by no-code capabilities may lead to a scenario of shadow IT, where you end up with separate business applications that IT is not aware of and has no governance over them. Another problem is that you can end up with a proliferation of applications, many of which might be duplicates, that can slow performance or drive up cloud costs. Without this control, a violation of the organization’s requirements for control, documentation, security, and reliability is a possibility. You can also end up with app sprawl that is difficult, if not impossible, to rein in.     

How Is a Modern Application Platform Different?

A modern application development platform also provides the visual, model-based development features associated with low-code. The difference is the apps you build with a modern application platform like OutSystems are not the simple ones churned out by someone who wants to put a form on top of a spreadsheet or create a vacation approval app. Instead, with OutSystems, you deliver powerful enterprise apps and app portfolios that run your business and what make you unique. 

With OutSystems governance and impact analysis capabilities, for example, IT knows what every application developed with the platform does. Plus, if IT wants to work on top of the apps created by business users, OutSystems provides the necessary tools to unite IT and business to expand the project.

Can Low-Code Deliver Web and Mobile Business Unit Apps?

In the Speed of Change report, the majority of IT leaders inquired said it took their development teams 3-6 months to deliver an application. That’s a lifetime, and even more so in the COVID-19 era. The biggest value proposition of low-code is the development speed it provides. With low-code, development teams can build new web and mobile apps that involve data, business logic, and external services, such as SaaS services, in less than three months.

The problem comes when you need to deliver a second or third version of that app. Pure low-code tools help you build a prototype or version 1 of an app really fast, but when you need to make a change to meet customer feedback, or integrate to another system that has just popped up, they don’t offer an easy path. Think of it like running a marathon: if you start your run sprinting, you won’t have enough energy to finish the race. The same goes with pure low-code tools: to give you the speed to deliver apps super fast, they tend to sacrifice app quality.

How Is a Modern Application Platform Different?

A modern app development platform goes beyond low-code to give you the capabilities to build apps not only fast, but also right and for the future. Besides a low-code development approach and AI-assisted development, the OutSystems platform also provides services and security checks to ensure scalability, governance, protection from threats, and compliance.

In addition to that, its AI capabilities also find and solve issues early, eliminating design errors and duplication of effort and identifying anything that needs to be corrected or optimized. Unlike low-code tools, OutSystems was designed to help manage change and future-proof your apps. OutSystems platform services, AI, and visual tools enable the continuous introduction of features and capabilities. This way, developers can evolve apps every bit as quickly as the business changes and new technologies are introduced.

Can Low-Code Build Enterprise IT Business Process Applications?

Low-code gives organizations the capabilities needed to access, use, and share back-end data, logic, and processes, and thus the ability to automate and change business processes, workflows, and case management applications. In fact, many low-code vendors featured in LCAP Magic Quadrant were originally traditional BPM software vendors that reinvented themselves. 

So, with low-code you can indeed build business process applications but, for some platforms, if you need to integrate those apps to other systems on-premise, you’ll need to do a lot of hand-coding. Plus, pure low-code tools fail at building more complex, enterprise-grade apps because you don’t have access to a full architecture view nor an easy way to debug them. 

How Is a Modern Application Platform Different?

OutSystems allows you to design and manage your business processes and integrate them into your applications using its Business Process Technology methodology. In addition to that, OutSystems provides Architecture Dashboard and TrueChange to check and identify any architecture errors.

The Architecture Dashboard allows developers and architects to visualize complex cross-portfolio architectures and identify and fix problems while following best practices and avoiding common pitfalls. The TrueChange engine, on the other hand, combines the power of automation, AI and analytics checks for architecture errors and dependencies to provide team and architecture governance and monitor the performance in real-time.

Can Low-Code Develop Fusion Team-Developed Composite Applications?

Fusion teams are multidisciplinary teams that bring together business and IT to collaborate on cross-functional projects. Visual tools like low-code play a crucial role in promoting this collaboration, as it allows business people with no coding experience to tap into their subject matter expertise and create the application workflows they need. 

But to maximize the power of fusion teams, the technology used should not only expand the capabilities of business people but also ensure that the apps created by non-developers follow the standard architectures and frameworks so that experienced developers can adjust and extend them without any re-architecting. Pure low-code tools, because they focus solely on simplifying the complexity of app development, lack this key part of the equation.

How Is a Modern Application Platform Different?

Modern application platforms like OutSystems give your fusion teams the simplicity of low-code development but integrated in a full-stack application development platform. This way, OutSystems gives developers the ability to extend applications that were started by non-developers with the expressiveness and flexibility of traditional coding. 

To learn more about the capabilities a platform should have to make the most out of your fusion team, take a look at 4 Capabilities App Dev Platforms Need for Whole-Team Cross-Functional Collaboration.

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In light of the research results, as BAYPM, we would love to help you with your Digital Transformation journey, give us a shout and we’ll be sure to assist you as best as we can. Currently, we are working on a project to digitize manual processes within different locations. The client opted for an incremental implementation approach based on geographical locations and the needs of their different factories.

What Should You Expect from a Modern Application Platform?

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According to Gartner, “70% of new applications will leverage a modern application platform using low-code or no-code technologies by 2025, up from less than 25% in 2020.”

These numbers foretell a dramatic shift in how enterprises will approach app development moving forward. Namely, your future success hinges on the ability to continuously respond fast to change and based on a new approach to constantly deliver applications and enterprise systems, modernize enterprise software development, and keep up with the competition.

Of course, not all modern application platforms offer the same capabilities. Not every platform is suitable for every use case. So how should you compare your options?

To help companies understand the modern application platform market, Gartner recently released their Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms. In this report, they divided platforms into challengers, visionaries, niche players, and leaders based on product capabilities, vendor operational health, market track record, and product vision.

Not only did Gartner name OutSystems as a Leader among vendors, but OutSystems is also the only company to receive a Customer’s Choice distinction as voted by hundreds of customers.

What Is a Modern Application Platform?

A modern application platform lets you quickly but securely develop and deploy new applications by automating the software development lifecycle and elevating the abstraction for the coding process. Not only does this augment your developer team to produce more significant results, but it opens up new opportunities to augment your internal staff beyond developers.

With more and more businesses relying on custom applications to accelerate operations, your ability to create complex applications quickly, interfaces, business logic, workflows, and manage data is a must.

When comparing platforms, Gartner analyzed their capabilities for three primary use cases:

  • Building custom business applications. You must be able to easily create and maintain complex enterprise applications capable of providing an intuitive user experience, managing complex integrations with your other business data sources and applications, and handling massive transaction volumes.
  • Automating business workflows. Your platform should help you automate as many workflows involving multiple application systems and users as possible so that your developers can work smarter and more productively.
  • Empowering collaborative app development. With development teams spread far and wide across locations, continents, and between the office and working at home, you need a platform that can ensure everyone is working efficiently on the same application. In addition, you need a platform that can scale its capabilities and usability to meet the needs of employees ranging from citizen developers to your most experienced, hard-core coders.

What Does Gartner Say About OutSystems?

While some platforms may be more suited for specific tasks, OutSystems is designed to provide a modern application platform suitable for the broadest range of industries and use cases. Unlike other vendors like Salesforce and Oracle, our current application platform is all we do, which has allowed us to focus on continuously innovating our product to meet the needs of almost every customer.

According to the Gartner report,

“OutSystems is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant(…) Its market differentiation is based on its capability to enhance developer productivity for building modern enterprise applications. OutSystems provides robust security, multi-experience development and AI-augmented development capabilities to enable faster application development.”

In the report, Gartner notes three key strengths that elevate the OutSystems solution to the top of the leaderboard.

  • Product: “OutSystems offers advanced low-code capabilities such as AI-augmented development, native but proprietary continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), application testing, agile enterprise planning, and governance capabilities to support the rapid development of enterprise-grade applications.”
  • Innovation: “OutSystems plans to introduce capabilities for automated unit testing using AI, native API management, enhanced observability experience (tied to infrastructure and application metrics) and an intelligent data mesh to facilitate seamless data ingestion and cataloguing.”
  • User experience: “In addition to providing robust capabilities for designing user journeys, OutSystems provides its UI design framework for designing standardized, accessibility-ready UIs. It also enables utilization of popular design systems and provides native support for chatbots and voice UIs.”

In its supplementary Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms report, Gartner writes,

“OutSystems received the highest score of all vendors for the custom business application use case. It received good scores for the collaborative app development and business workflow automation use cases.”

In addition, customers also recognized OutSystems as a 2021 Gartner Customers’ Choice Vendor. Unlike the Magic Quadrant, whose leadership was determined by Gartner’s analysts, this award is based solely on feedback and ratings from hundreds of enterprise software users who have experience purchasing, implementing, and working with the OutSystems platform.

At the time of the report, OutSystems had 577 reviews for an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. Only three vendors were named a Customer’s Choice, with OutSystems being the only vendor recognized as both a Customer’s Choice and a Magic Quadrant’s Leader.

For all the details, check out the following reports:

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In light of the research results, as BAYPM, we would love to help you with your Digital Transformation journey, give us a shout and we’ll be sure to assist you as best as we can. Currently, we are working on a project to digitize manual processes within different locations. The client opted for an incremental implementation approach based on geographical locations and the needs of their different factories.

The Low-Code Market in 2021

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Based on the latest data, the low code market is estimated to reach a value of $ 187 billion by 2030 (increased to $ 10.3 billion in 2019).
The reason for this growth lies in the increasing pressure of IT to add value to the business – accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and deadlocks – and the limitations of traditional development that hinder developer productivity and increase backlog jobs. Low code development with its visual approach to coding can enable your existing development teams to build high-quality multi-experience applications faster (if you’re looking for the benefits of low code, we have a full article on this topic).
Unfortunately, hot technology attracts a wide variety of vendors and posers. While it may seem tempting to have lower-code platform options, a closer look reveals that many of these products offer solutions that don’t really meet the needs of corporate businesses or developers, just like Visual Basic did not exist a few decades ago.

Clarifying the Low-Code Market Size

In the latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low Code Application Platforms (LCAP), Gartner defines LCAP as:

“An application platform that supports rapid application development, deployment, execution, and management using declarative, high-level programming abstractions such as model-driven and metadata-driven programming languages ​​and single-step deployments.”

Based on this definition, the low code market includes platforms that support the development of enterprise applications that run on multiple platforms and devices, connect to data sources, and meet business needs. To be included in Gartner’s view of the low code market, providers must also meet a variety of technical requirements, including:

Demonstrating a go-to-market strategy for its LCAP for cross-sectoral application development,

Providing a minimum set of application platform capabilities,

Ensuring fast application development,

To provide an enterprise-level LCAP for enterprise-class projects.

As the market continues to grow and new providers join the race, Gartner adjusts these criteria every year, and some vendors even move into different categories such as case management. We fully expect to see additional changes in 2021 as Gartner continues to focus on the feature and functionality packs customers can expect from a low-code app platform and whether this suite can truly address all use cases for the organization.

An Alternative Perspective on the Low-Code Market

If you are considering a low-code platform to digitize internal business processes, replace legacy applications, or create new customer experiences that include mobile, chat, and bots, it can help to understand the low-code environment based on its legacy.

This may seem like a strange way of thinking about development platform vendors, but it turns out, it’s very important. Let’s take a look at the three categories of low code and why they exist.

Niche Tools

Niche tools focus on a specific application development problem. For example:

A better way to capture and store data

A simpler way to describe business processes

An easier way to create a mobile frontend

These tools are used almost exclusively to meet a single business need. It includes business process management (BPM), case management, and no-code technology. As long as scalability is not a requirement, you can use them to build simple applications really fast.

Ecosystem Tools

Players of this category are often large software application vendors whose motivation to call themselves low-code is to provide a way to create more value in cloud ecosystems. These solutions are basically niche platforms as they are developed to solve a specific business need as well as general application development (e.g. database applications, web tools, GUI front ends to CLI backend systems).

Purpose-Oriented Application Platforms

These are platforms designed from the very beginning to handle custom application development using a low-code approach. Vendors in this category tend to keep up with market needs and trends and include new features for future-proof customer journeys such as progressive web apps and chatbots. Purpose application platforms focus on delivering fit-for-purpose applications with a consistent user experience.

These platforms are not purely pure low-code tools such as niche or ecosystem. They include a low-code framework and tools for multi-experience development, but they also have some capabilities for automation, integration, impact reporting, and one-click deployment.

Why Is Purposeful Creation Not Enough?

The problem with purpose-built application platforms is that inevitably there comes a time when solutions created with them must evolve in a direction that the platform does not support. It’s as if you need your content management system to start offering point-of-sale functionality with order menus and payments. Maybe you can add some plugins and get something that works, if not elegant. However, what happens the next time you need something out of the box? Or the time after that?

At this point, organizations using application platforms for this purpose are forced to layer over another tool to bridge the gap, resort to manual coding, or seek other ways to integrate newly coded systems with existing systems. The benefits of low code are lost very quickly.

We see this often. Many of our clients came to OutSystems after hitting this wall with another platform, and this can happen very quickly. The reasons are varied, but we hear things like:

“Yes, our current platform supports online mobile app development… but we also need it to create apps that work offline. It doesn’t.”

And…

“We are not able to integrate with our identity management system.”

Question: Why can’t more solutions get organizations over this wall effectively?

Answer: Because it’s hard to build a development platform that meets the actual needs of customers. Customers don’t just need better, more efficient development tools; they need an entire platform that improves the full application lifecycle in the same way that low-code improves the development experience. A modern application platform, not flash-in-the-pan tactics, can make sure that IT teams never hit a wall.

Solving Purpose-Built Problems with a Modern Application Platform

Almost every day we hear from organizations that are victims of digital disruption – cite retail (Sears, Toys ”R” Us), Mobile Device (Blackberry), and taxi industry references. To avoid this, not only do business and IT strategies need to be in lockdown, but IT needs to be able to deliver solutions that accelerate business demands. Imagine that the business minds behind Uber will be told a two-year wait for their mobile apps.

Development speed is the biggest opportunity for low code platforms. Instead, most of the time, even low-code, IT is constrained by:

  • Big backlogs
  • Not enough budget or skilled resources
  • Development complexity
  • Systems that are often outdated by the time they’re released.

Addressing these issues requires a modern application platform that offers low-code for the visual development of all layers of an application, including user interfaces, integration, data models, business logic, and workflow for any device, and proprietary code of an application. This looks like a purpose-built app platform, right? The difference is that with a modern application platform it is possible to:

  • Package mobile apps for the app stores in one click.
  • Manage the full application lifecycle with automated dependency impact analysis, application portfolio governance and refactoring, and debugging to ensure deployments don’t break.
  • Handle complex mobile requirements like ultra-responsive user experience, offline data, on-device business logic, and sensor integration.
  • Scale to support high volumes of users and transactions.
  • Deliver superior user experience through continuous delivery and deployment.
  • Meet demanding security requirements.
  • Adopt a multi-persona app dev strategy, taking full advantage of the governed business and IT collaboration.

Take the credit rating company FICO, for example. They had a two-year development project that failed. In just six months with half the team, they rewrote and delivered a brand new origination system and got to market three times faster using the OutSystems modern application platform.

To learn more about the variety of low-code platforms, I invite you to download a complementary copy of Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, 2020

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In light of the research results, as BAYPM, we would love to help you with your Digital Transformation journey, give us a shout and we’ll be sure to assist you as best as we can. Currently, we are working on a project to digitize manual processes within different locations. The client opted for an incremental implementation approach based on geographical locations and the needs of their different factories.