Last week, OutSystems held our NextStep and ONE conferences in Denver, Colorado, and I’m still riding high on our success in the Rocky Mountains. The conference was buzzing with excitement about high-performance low-code and where the OutSystems platform is headed. Tech leaders shared stories, developers brainstormed, and experts showcased the OutSystems platform. Our customer panels were infused with innovation, inspiration, and practical strategies — made possible by our high-performance low code development platform.
The event kicked off with a vision of a brilliant future for application development shared by OutSystems CEO and Founder Paulo Rosado. On the mainstage, he highlighted that AI has been an underpinning of the OutSystems platform for more than five years – it’s in our DNA (or DNAI?). I’ve been thinking a lot about what Paulo and our guests on stage showed us last week, and what it all means. Here’s what I think….
The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms For Professional Developers, Q2 2023
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Table of contents:
- Generative AI Is Changing Everything We Do
- Using Generative AI to Help Ensure Every App Is Enterprise Ready
- The Bigger Picture: Building Applications the Way You Want
Generative AI Is Changing Everything We Do
Why is Generative AI suddenly a thing, when it’s actually been around for years? It’s because for the first time, an advanced technology system is experienced in plain English. It sounds and responds and engages with us like we do with our friends and colleagues. That’s a massive shift in technology. Far greater than the shift to the Internet, which I remember well.
I’ve been helping start-ups to enterprise companies in technology establish their brands and market positioning for almost three decades. I remember the early years of the internet and embraced all that it meant and changed and enabled. Including working from anywhere, which I started doing in 1999 and eliminated my commute from Seattle to Redmond. The internet was clearly the most transformative technological advancement of my lifetime. It changed how I did my job, how I communicated, how I learned and discovered new things, and how I saw the world.
Fast-forward to now, and I believe that artificial intelligence is an even bigger shift than the internet – although you need the latter to deliver the former. At first it was a novelty of sorts with Watson winning Jeopardy and Deep Blue knocking Kasparov off his chess game. After that, it seemed to settle into use cases suited for consuming mass quantities of data and delivering insights and decisions faster than humans with natural language processing and machine learning. But then it happened–AI became almost a household name overnight in late 2022 when OpenAI made ChatGPT available – and it spoke to us. Literally.
Already, companies are thinking of new ways to embed ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies into our lives at work and home. I’m no neural network, but I predict that by 2026, AI will have changed the world. The children, teens, and college students of today will be doing and experiencing things that are way beyond our imaginations.
Not only that, but how most people develop applications (and even who develops them) will be completely different. And as Paulo explained in his keynote, OutSystems will be leading the way forward with AI connectors and a new way of approaching application development for the enterprise. Since software applications are the foundation of business, this shift is essential and remarkable.
Using Generative AI to Help Ensure Every App Is Enterprise Ready
In 2018, OutSystems created a special group, then called Project Turing, to research and work with AI with the goal of infusing it throughout the platform. The results of this work so far include AI-assisted development, the creation of more than 60 AI connectors and components in the OutSystems Forge, and the AI Mentor System. In his keynote, Paulo talked about this history, showed examples of AWS, Google, and Microsoft AI connectors in the Forge, touched on the OutSystems view of generative AI, and then made two big announcements about advancing AI in the OutSystems platform.
Let’s ChatGPT Connect
ChatGPT has captured global attention with its natural language processing capabilities that include creating content from prompts. Its large language model can answer questions and compose emails, essays, and code, sparking new waves of creativity, efficiency, and innovation. There’s excitement about capitalizing on its capabilities by adding it to applications, which is why, as of last week, you can find a powerful connector for ChatGPT in the OutSystems Forge. This groundbreaking connector allows your developers and organizations to unlock the full potential of ChatGPT in the software you’re building. You can embed ChatGPT in applications to harness the power of generative AI in just a matter of minutes.
Paulo invited John Ferguson, Vice President of Solution Architecture at OutSystems, to demo how to add and use ChatGPT to enable insurance policy comparisons. This video gives you a taste of what John and Paulo demonstrated.
Opening the Gate of Morpheus to Application Development
After exploring the possibilities of the ChatGPT Connector and other OpenAI research, Paulo segued into what could be the biggest OutSystems announcement since its founding in 2001: codenamed Project Morpheus. With Morpheus, developers of any skill level–or even none at all–will start building apps that fit unique requirements through rapid iteration and generative AI-powered assistance. We believe skilled developers will still be needed to do the heavy lifting, but ChatGPT opens up development opportunities to more people, ideas, and workflows.
Among the many new features of Morpheus are:
- Instant app generation with conversational prompts: To increase efficiency and productivity, instead of writing code, developers will use natural language inputs to describe an application, and generative AI will build the app. New and seasoned developers and business users will work together to build apps that meet specific enterprise needs. The agility and scalability possibilities seem endless here.
- An app editor powered by AI and ML: OutSystems will soon provide suggestions based on the data and models from two decades of developers using our platform. Our AI engine will fine-tune these generative AI models and change apps without disruption or errors. The power of our engine here is mindblowing.
- Real-time, full-stack, visual representations of app changes: Generative AI has a reputation for being opaque – and even unpredictable (although this will tighten as the technology evolves.). OutSystems will make it easy to validate the output of generative AI, detecting threats and code patterns that could cause issues down the line. These security gains are essential.
As part of the Project Morpheus announcement, John Ferguson returned to the stage to demo how developers can start with an initial version of an application and, in a matter of minutes, make it better, more specific to their needs, more robust simply by following the recommended prompts and suggestions delivered by their generative AI colleague.
The Bigger Picture: Building Applications the Way You Want
Project Morpheus focuses on building highly adaptive app experiences that use the power of generative AI to accelerate time-to-market, empower more junior developers and non-coders, and manage rapid change and iteration. These AI-generated apps will provide the same level of enterprise-grade features and customizations as apps built with the OutSystems platform today. The great advantage here is that IT organizations will be able to meet the continuous and complex changes and demands being thrown their way from every part of the organization and end users. Yes, please!
Another important aspect of Project Morpheus is that it is part of a larger message–one that has been steeped in our mission from the time we were founded: Enable more people and organizations to innovate, which means giving them the tools to develop and change apps faster with greater agility, scale, and security. In 2022, when we announced the acquisition of Ionic, we added another qualifier to that message, which was “their way.” We want to enable anyone building apps to use the tools and skills they have and like by offering more development options in our platform. With Project Morpheus, we have added the additional benefit of using natural language to move from ideation to a working application. So, if someone’s comfort level is “I want to build an app but I don’t know code,” they’re covered, too.
In summary, I think one of our most incredible customers and IT leaders, Igor Rigotti, Head of the Low-Code Center of Excellence at Petrobras, said it best:
"The AI-powered guidance of OutSystems helps our new developers become fully productive much faster, and it allows junior developers to deploy applications like a senior developer. For us, as we're scaling our low-code Center of Excellence and recruiting hundreds of new developers, that kind of productivity gain is critical.”