When I joined Gartner as a VP of Research in 2015, the hot topic among our clients was Bimodal IT. This was a term Gartner coined in 2014 to distinguish between classical "waterfall" approaches to software development and agile development.
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Table of contents:
- Why are pixel perfect apps so hard to build and maintain?
- High-performance low-code by OutSystems
- Could OutSystems “future-proof” your technology operating model?
- Want to learn more?
Gartner defined the two Modes as follows:
"Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and nonlinear, emphasizing agility and speed."
This clash between old and new has been around in tech for a long time. As IT analyst Kurt Marko put it,
"Whether you call it legacy versus emergent systems, Brownfield versus Greenfield deployments, or sustaining versus disruptive technologies, the dichotomy between old and new or maintenance and development has been around since the dawn of IT."
At that time, the sheer size and complexity of organizations' installed technology base were daunting. Most IT departments chose to continue operating in their traditional, albeit slow, fashion, because they were held accountable for ensuring the availability, scalability, security, and compliance of that entire technology estate.
However, for most of their paying internal business clients, this was simply not enough. The Agile Promise of new digital business revenue streams, based on interactive development and fast delivery, rapidly increased adoption on the business side. This effectively created a whole new generation of Digital Native Developers led by a Chief Digital Officer that reported directly into the business, and happily picked up the tab.
In hindsight, what made the Bimodal lens on the world valuable at the time was the acknowledgement and identification of interdependencies between the two worlds of developing software.
In a time in which most organizations were still struggling with their Enterprise Service Busses and other middleware, Bimodal stressed the need to better connect the front and back end by modernizing both the entire technology stack as well as the Way of Working.
As Gartner analysts Donna Scott and Simon Mingay wrote in their July 2017 report "Scaling Bimodal — Fusing IT with the Business":
"What CIOs quickly learn is that when scaling bimodal, Mode 2 cannot succeed without changes to Mode 1."
Since 2017 lots of organizations – both in the private as well as the public sector – have made serious strides and substantial investments in modernizing their Mode 1 technology stack. To reduce complexity and the sheer number of applications, they moved to cloud architectures and DevOps, whilst turning the complexity of their legacy ERP environment into a lean and clean data-driven environment.
Meanwhile, on the Mode 2 side of the equation, a proliferation of market channels and devices took place. Phones, tablets, notebooks, and kiosks on either iOS or Android – led to an explosion in the number of digital initiatives (apps) that were produced.
In a 2017 research piece that several colleagues and I wrote for Deloitte, we concluded that the most successful Digital Transformation Archetype we identified – the Fast-Moving Experimenter type of company – would on average entertain a whopping sixty small digital initiatives at the same time!
And so there you have it: the same old familiar phenomena (a gap between modes 1 & 2 of software development and maintenance) returning in a different guise. The key challenge appears to remain the same: how to deliver significant numbers of pixel perfect apps on any device or channel, whilst guaranteeing scalability, maintainability, and security at the same time?
Why are pixel perfect apps so hard to build and maintain?
Creating pixel-perfect apps means creating user interfaces that are implemented exactly according to the organization’s own corporate identity and design principles. Apps that look identical on any given device, down to the last pixel.
Whether it’s sharp edges, perfect alignment and spacing or color management, there should be consistency, clarity, and simplicity across the board.
Creating pixel-perfect apps however can be challenging for a lot of organizations, designers, and developers alike. It all begins with having a great UX design to start with. Secondly, it requires developers to build multiple versions of the same app, one for each touchpoint or browser.
When developed according to traditional methods, this can be a long, expensive, and audacious task. In today's tense labor market, it can be very challenging to hire the right talent for every platform/device or channel.
There’s also an additional challenge. Even if a company nails their first pixel-perfect version of a given app, it will be very hard to maintain this level of “corporate identity compliance” in future iterations of the app. Since business needs and customer feedback rapidly change, the business side constantly feeds a push for new versions, gradually flooding the designer and developer teams.
High-performance low-code by OutSystems
What all best-in-class Fast Moving Experimenter organizations have in common is that they cut as high as possible in the design of their technology operating model. After all, they can only manage their 60+ digital initiatives simultaneously by rigorously standardizing their way of working across the entire technology stack from top to bottom.
In practice, this means that any app produced is designed with a minimum of effort, in the shortest time possible and by default in compliance with all company standards. These include corporate identity rules, scalability, maintainability, and security by design. Only this approach allows them to do A/B testing on the fly and on a massive scale, thereby dramatically reducing the learning curves of their time to market.
High-performance low-code platforms enable the creation of complex applications with minimal coding while providing high performance and scalability. These platforms often use a combination of visual programming, pre-built components, and automation to streamline the development process.
OutSystems high-performance low-code (HPLC) platform was designed to address these challenges most practically, earning the highest position on the Ability to Execute y-axes of Gartner’s ® 2022 Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms for six consecutive years.
Here’s some of the attributes that explain this consistently high score:
- OutSystems HPLC addresses the lack of skilled user experience designers/developers by taking away as much as possible, repetitive work that poses a burden on productivity and reduces speed:
- Visual pixel perfect deployment that is device-independent and delivered at the push of a button.
- Easy integration of most market-standard off-the-shelf packages, even the ones that are considered mission-critical.
- Artificial intelligent models that support developers in automated security and architecture analysis
- OutSystems HPLC increases the productivity and creativity of your teams without sacrificing control over the entire technology stack.
- The platform defines and protects the boundaries you set yourself and within which your designers and developers can develop and deploy autonomously.
- This is true for external development teams as well. As long as they are certified on the platform, they are clear to go from the first day within the platform for which you have set the boundaries up front.
- Your teams will not be constrained by rigid templates, imposed by some of your current or legacy vendors.
- You develop once and use many as the platform provides a repository of already existing tested & secure software building blocks. Any app created can be used as a template that in its entirety can be integrated as a building block into your next app.
Could OutSystems “future-proof” your technology operating model?
By leveraging the OutSystems platform, organizations can create pixel-perfect apps.
Mobile apps that deliver exceptional customer service, enhance customer engagement and drive customer satisfaction. As the modernization of any organization's technology stack gradually comes to fruition, it's comforting to know that the move to microservices architectures, public cloud, containers, and Kubernetes is fully supported by OutSystems.
OutSystems becomes the company's foundational technology spine that connects the entire technology stack from front to back, supporting standardized processes that continuously optimize user experiences in real-time.
High-performance low-code is a powerful approach for consistently improving digital customer experience across multiple channels. By making OutSystems an integral part of their digital transformation strategy, businesses can use customer feedback and data in real-time, and continuously improve their customer experience, thus ultimately driving revenue growth.
Want to learn more?
Should you be interested in a deep-dive on the above topics, here’s a link to the recent webinar “How to Quickly Deliver Pixel-Perfect Apps with High-Performance Low-Code”, in which I had the pleasure of interviewing Mafalda Povoas and Barry Goffe.
Mafalda is a Product & Solution Marketing Manager at OutSystems where she manages positioning, messaging, and go-to-market strategies to drive growth for the OutSystems platform and CX solutions.
Barry is the Senior Director of Platform Strategy. He leads the OutSystems team that develops guidance for our customers on how to extract the most value from the platform. With his team, he identifies opportunities to expand the platform’s capabilities.
During this recent interview, we touched upon three very practical client cases that have – each in their own way – implemented their version of the OutSystems Pixel Perfect platform.
- Gartner Glossary on Bimodal
- Bimodal IT: A New Buzzword For Old Concepts Presents Teachable Moment
- Scaling Bimodal — Fusing IT With the Business
- Dutch Digital DNA Demystified
- A/B Testing
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms
- How to Quickly Deliver Pixel-Perfect Apps with High-Performance Low-Code