XAG attended the OutSystems Accelerate 2017 event in Sydney this week. The theme of the event was speed, and in particular the pace of digital transformation in APAC businesses. OutSystems is at the forefront of rapid applications development for mobile and desktop, with a focus on mobility, security, and enterprise scalability. As a consistent leader in the Gartner MADP (Mobile Application Development Platforms) and aPaaS (High-Productivity Application Platform as a Service) magic quadrants, and a leader in two Forrester waves for low-code development platforms, OutSystems has a long history of correctly calling the future of business applications development and leading the low-code solutions space. So it was with some interest that we learnt of the upcoming features and vision for the solution at Accelerate 2017.

The backdrop for low-code in the enterprise is a significant and growing demand for digital transformation. Businesses, particularly in the mid-market, are buckling under the strain of migration away from legacy or non-digital systems and into an information-enabled future. In a recent survey, 45% of respondents had more than 10 applications sitting in their backlog. When the average application might take 6-12 months to get to a minimum usable product, there is an associated backlog of demand for development and DevOps skills. Those skills often have substantial overlap with the skills required by every other such organisation, and so the problem is made worse by the number of your competitors who are also trying to hire and retain people from the same small pool.  And some of those skills keep changing. Development staff can become distracted by the next latest and greatest development framework, either delaying projects while they cross-skill, or jumping ship to new and interesting projects. Or they can become frustrated by the lack of progress through their company’s backlog and feeling left-behind in the move to mobility-first. Some businesses have tried to outsource this problem, with varying degrees of success across on-shore and offshore projects. Outsourcing is similarly compromised by the quantity of significant digital transformation projects the outsources are being called on to deliver. That is, most of them are just as busy as the companies who are seeking their help.

All of this is especially true with mobile development. Two years ago, survey respondents cited mobile apps as their 6th highest priority. In this year’s survey it was the number one priority. Mobile development is even more problematic than traditional desktop web-app/site development because of the divergent development languages, development environments, view-ports, app stores, and the like. Whereas 93% of respondents highlight mobile apps as either essential or very important, 43% of them cite access to mobile development skills and resources as a primary concern.

So, businesses are deeply engaged in digital transformation and cloud migration, and they needs mobile applications at the core of that process, but almost all of them are fighting over a limited pool of development staff whose skills are generally either in the mobile space or outside of it.

OutSystems is a leading example of innovators who seek to address that conundrum, and they have been doing it for 16 years. What we are seeing now is both icing-on-the-cake refinement of an already mature technology (over 90,000 apps rapidly-deployed, and counting) and the ability to add cutting-edge features to an already stable and scalable base product.

Some of the headlines from the recent past, and the near-term future, include:

  • “Speed without walls”
    • OutSystems distinguishes itself on integration, extensibility and no lock-in. Speed and efficiency with development resources is a fundamental criteria of low-code, but these other criteria are nowhere near as common.
    • This is the stated goal for OutSystems and one they appear to have invested heavily in.
  • Visual real-time debugging of mobile apps
    • OutSystems offers the ability to visually-step a mobile application, operating on the actual mobile device, in real-time within Service Studio, regardless of the mobile operating system.
    • Not only do you develop once and deploy cross-platform to all relevant mobile device types and app stores, but you can also test and deploy changes much more rapidly than under any alternative.
  • Scalability proving
    • In recent testing OutSystems was able to see peak Apdex scores of up to 11,250 transactions per second, with linear scaling.
    • That means you have access to massive, enterprise-scale workload processing, with performance that maxes out progressively and predictably.
    • In another case study, a consumer-facing OutSystem mobile application was happily supporting a customer engagement platform with over six million active users.
    • Whereas low-code platforms have attracted questions in relation to scalability and B2C relevance in the past, OutSystems blows these myths away with proven capacity to scale and perform.
  • Microservices & containers
    • In another example of riding the leading edge of efficiency and flexibility, OutSystems is actively moving towards support for genuinely manageable microservices designs, and for deployment via Docker containers.
    • For anyone concerned that low-code might confine them to a stagnant or slow-moving stack, OutSystem continues to lead the pack with extensibility, flexibility, efficiency and platform evolution.

There were a number of other key innovations surfaced at Accelerate – some of them a little too fresh to mention here. But if you are considering your digital transformation backlog and path forward, have a talk to us about how we can help bring the future of digital enablement to your business. We’d love to show you how.