Everyone remembers the story of Dorothy and her little dog (too!) and their adventures in Oz, right? If not, it’s a great story.

Quick Synopsis: Our protagonist, Dorothy, submitted an RFP to have her aunt’s cupcake empire’s (Aunty Em’s Edibles) website and online ordering system completely overhauled within just a few months. The resulting estimates from traditional development consulting firms surprised Dorothy so completely that she dropped her smartphone on the sidewalk. As she bent over to pick it up, she lost her balance and crashed headfirst into a bike stand along the Greenway. Feeling a little woozy, she decided to visit the Urgent Care facility and on her way there, met a team of visual developers. A few harrowing adventures and some bonding on Fortnite later, and Dorothy and her new friends were ready to present their bold new, low-code approach to the company’s CIO.

That may not be precisely what happened, but no doubt someone just had a déjà vu moment while thinking back to a similar project that involved delivering in a compressed timeframe. Or maybe it’s something you’re going through right now.

Business Applications: A Whirlwind of Design, Technology, and Usability

Outside of government use, is there such a thing anymore as an application or computer system that is strictly for “Internal Use Only?” One with no external connections and that doesn’t have a front-end UI either for web or mobile access? One that doesn’t allow access to its systems via APIs or doesn’t need access to other systems? I’m sure they exist (maybe in Oz), but most applications or programs today have to bring some measurable value to the business; otherwise, they’re just bloatware.

Just about every system, program, and application in today’s business is one with multiple front-end UIs, at least one DB it pulls data from, and maybe thousands or millions of endpoint devices it tracks for IoT purposes. And that’s just the design and application layers, to say nothing of hosting, securing, and governance of these apps.

All of which means that unless you are Mega-Corp with unlimited resources and no concerns about timetables or “shareholder value” (that’s a fantasy if I ever heard one), then you need help.

Luckily, roads exist that can help get you there faster, and without flying monkeys at your back.

The Heart vs. Brain Debate: Don’t Let Your Emotions Stop You From Seeing the Truth

In the real Wizard of Oz story, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow debate whether it’s better to have a heart or a brain, each arguing for what he didn’t possess. Poor Dorothy, caught in the middle, refuses to take sides. But in the end, she gets what she wants because she had input from both.

Here are some sobering facts about application development:

  • There are approximately 20 million developers globally, and about half of them focus on mobile app development. We guess that a large percentage of them either develop mobile apps part-time or are consultants or entrepreneurs rather than full-time employees.
  • Estimates on spending to support hot, new technologies such as AI, IoT, smart home automation, and augmented reality average out to be $1.4 trillion.
  • Just more than half of all currently available developers sit geographically in the U.S. or Europe. And they are a young group, with an average age of 30.
  • [Interesting] In light of the previous fact, the number one challenge facing digital transformation initiatives, according to Altimeter, is “Low digital literacy or expertise among employees and leadership,” with 31% of respondents ranking this first.
  • [Double Interesting] Also from Altimeter: about 61% of companies are attempting to train up employees for the digital economy, but only about half are investing in new digital talent. Wait...what?

These facts are staggeringly eye-opening regarding where the market is going, and the availability of resources to get there. Considering the number of concurrent development projects underway at any given time, there is a critical shortage of people available who have the right mix of skills to support last year’s technology, much less tomorrow’s multichannel application delivery.

I don’t know about you, but I hate admitting I need help, even when it’s obvious I don’t have the right tools, or enough hands to finish a job myself. As consumers, we get frustrated at the user experience limitations of many existing systems. But as facilitators of change, responsible for bringing these systems up to date, we also recognize the challenges ahead. Did I mention we need help?

Pulling Back the Curtain: How Low-Code Application Development Can Help Bring It Home

Are you currently working on a digital transformation plan? Or maybe nothing that grand, just a starter project designing a new multichannel B2C application? Either way, no doubt you have requirements documents detailing the features that need to be included in the new system, along with scads of spreadsheets on risk assessments, resource requirements, and more. All very necessary.

With OutSystems, you don’t need an overabundance of courage to tackle these projects. In fact, much of this functionality is baked into the platform and thanks to its visual development environment, much faster and easier to code, test and deploy.

With our multichannel approach, you get:

  • Simplified codebase: Rather than having to develop applications that are compatible with multiple desktops and mobile devices, a single codebase dramatically simplifies the development process.
  • Shorter software development lifecycle (SDLC): Multichannel development helps reduce the amount of hand-coding necessary for customizing applications for different operating systems and browsers. This also yields shorter deployment times, adding up to a release cycle that is as much as 5x faster than developing code for each channel.
  • Seamless UI and UX: Users want the same experience, whether on their mobile device or at their desk. Looking for functionality they are used to on one endpoint only to find it difficult to find or missing altogether is frustrating. Multichannel application development removes these frustrations, giving users a familiar experience across all devices and browsers.
  • The marriage of security and compliance: Securing confidential company data and protecting customer data are no longer unique requirements. Your customer data is part of your confidential data, which means compliance has to be part of your security posture. Trying to deploy separate security and compliance solutions for core systems, intranets, and endpoint devices with multiple operating systems is challenging for organizations of any size. Multichannel development lets you build-in security at every stage of development, helping to reduce the risk of software vulnerabilities on your connected endpoints.

There’s No Place Like Low-Code; There’s No Place Like Low-Code

Even at Mega-Corp, with a shop full of skilled developers to throw at a project, no one ever got mad because the project delivered better software faster and at a lower cost. The world is moving in a direction where everything becomes data. If your company doesn’t have it, likely your competitors do. We have to get into the information mindset and develop multichannel applications that can gather, sort, and disseminate of all that great data we have at our fingertips.

If you are beginning your digital transformation journey, we can help map out a plan that saves you time and money. If you already have a plan and are looking for a low-code development platform to help meet seemingly unrealistic timelines, we can help by getting citizen and professional developers up to speed and pushing out beautifully designed new software in no time at all.

Would You Like to Know More?

Mobile and Multichannel support were just two criteria evaluated in the 2019 Gartner Low-Code Application Platforms Magic Quadrant, where OutSystems was named a Leader for the second year in a row. Click on the link for your free copy and see the full evaluation criteria.

By the way, OutSystems was also listed as a Market Leader in the Ovum 2018-2019 Mobile Application Development Platform Decision Matrix.