Historically application development has always been seen as a laborious, time-consuming task that requires highly skilled developers. That was until the advent of low-code. For the last few years, low-code has emerged as a popular alternative to coding by hand. The market for low-code platforms was $4.3 billion in 2017. It is predicted to grow to reach more than $112.43 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth of 44.3% from 2019 to 2026. In fact, 84% of enterprises have adopted a low-code development platform or tool, according to a Forrester survey of global IT and business decision-makers in March 2019. Of those, 100% have seen a positive return on their investment.

Gartner predicts that by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity. However, as the category has matured and become almost synonymous with no-code, its limitations are more apparent. For companies who want to build serious, enterprise apps to meet business needs and change them as customers and markets demand, low-code falls short. That's where OutSystems comes in. OutSystems is more than just a low-code platform; it offers a full-stack development capability in just one modern app development platform, enabling organisations to build enterprise-grade applications.

The facts and figures show that low-code is the way forward when it comes to application development, but when it comes to choosing the right tool, where do you start? There are so many options, and to be fair, most of the low-code vendors claim to do the same thing. We’ll be using a different approach to help you decide when OutSystems is the best fit for your organisation and help you build it fast, build it right, and build for the future.

Choosing the Right Platform

In the Venn diagram below, we have overlapping circles. The top circle, 'Customer Requirements', is what the customer (or prospect) is looking for, specifically in application development. The middle right circle, ‘What Outsystems does well’, is the OutSystems strengths; what makes OutSystems not just a low-code vendor, but rather a high-performance low-code platform. The bottom circle, ‘What all low-code vendors do well’, is the generic low-code platform USP’s (low-code vendors listed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave). We’ll focus on the three coloured overlap sections to help you understand when OutSystems is the best option.

Venn Diagram explaining where OutSystems and low-code platforms fit when it comes to meet customer requirements

As with all Venn diagrams, the circles overlap, so let’s go into each one of the overlapping circles in more detail, starting with the bottom overlap.

The “Not Required” Overlap

Venn Diagram explaining where OutSystems and low-code platforms fit when it comes to meet customer requirements

This overlap is the “not required” overlap, meaning this may be features and functions presented to the customer/prospect but not necessarily required, specifically in SaaS or commercially off the shelf (COTS) solutions. SaaS or COTS solutions typically offer a wide range of features and functions in one toolset, of which roughly only 25% of the functionality is used by the end customer, meaning 75% is usually not required or not needed. A modern app development platform, like OutSystems, gives the customer the flexibility to only focus on what is required and will lead to a better customer experience and create a competitive advantage.

The “Low-Code Comfort Zone” Overlap

The next overlap is the customer requirements and what all low-code vendors do well. This overlap represents the bread and butter for most low-code platforms, which is the ability to quickly develop simple web and mobile applications using an agile approach. This could be the replacement of many internal Excel spreadsheets or Microsoft Access type applications. The application is mostly a simple UI, and you can take advantage of building on top of newly developed digital platforms or APIs in your organisation.

Venn Diagram explaining where OutSystems and low-code platforms fit when it comes to meet customer requirements

These applications do not require too much technical complexity and can be done with a relatively basic feature set when it comes to application development.

The OutSystems Overlap

Venn Diagram explaining where OutSystems and low-code platforms fit when it comes to meet customer requirements

The third overlap is where OutSystems is the best fit. At OutSystems, we create successful applications for organisations by focusing on these four key pillars: Technology, Talent, Experiences, and Agility.

1. Technology

OutSystems is a full-stack application development platform that you can use to build enterprise applications from the ground up. From front-end and back-end to process automation, integration, and data modeling, everything you need to create complex enterprise applications can be done visually using OutSystems.

The platform provides a full DevOps solution out-of-the-box that supports the continuous delivery/continuous integration (CI/CD) of your applications. It can also be integrated with your existing enterprise DevOps tools.

The technology also needs to be extensible. As you go through the journey, you do not want to be investing in disparate and unintegrated software. At OutSystems, the software is an integrated platform with the ability to integrate a customer's most strategic tooling. 

OutSystems takes your application models and generates standard and optimized applications ready to run on a standard web farm or cloud architecture. It also uses a standard relational database to deploy and store all data that your applications use. Once generated, applications can run independently of any OutSystems components, and all of your application data remains under your control and accessible with standard tools.

OutSystems is designed with a strong focus on scalability with an architecture that supports a wide range of options, including vertical scalability and horizontal scalability, which is adjustable to a customer's specific requirements.

The platform offers a fully integrated approach to development, quality assurance, deployment, and management—the entire application lifecycle—which enables it to support high-scale app development.

At the heart of the OutSystems platform are integrated tools and infrastructure that ensure modern, enterprise-grade applications are secure, resilient, cloud-ready, and built to scale, enabling your teams to build it right the first time around.

2. Talent

OutSystems is unique in providing a highly accessible, low barrier to entry for staff to learn and develop visually, highly compelling, and agile code.  So you can use the people you have in your own organisation. Your highly skilled and experienced developers can deliver more enterprise applications at a faster pace, and your junior or entry-level developers can be a lot more productive from the start.

Every aspect of OutSystems is designed to help developers build applications faster and more efficiently. A visual development environment, powerful automation, and AI assistance enable teams to accelerate the critical phases of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), so apps are delivered in weeks and even days.

3. Agility

OutSystems brings the promise of Agile to fruition by involving business team members deeply and continuously in the development process. Changes can be made easily and swiftly with business users and developers working side by side to deliver changes users need to be more productive.

With the agility that comes standard with the OutSystems platform, you can build with the future in mind. OutSystems provides organisations with the ability to change and change swiftly.

4. Experiences

OutSystems allows you to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience. For example, using different technology for web applications and mobile applications has been proven to cause significantly poor customer satisfaction. With OutSystems, you build both mobile and web applications on the same platform. The OutSystems platform allows you to create digital experiences reaching any and all touchpoints, including things you may not be thinking about yet—like chatbots and integration with virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. 

The higher the applications business value and the more technically complex it is, this is where OutSystems will be a natural fit and where you will receive the highest return on investment in the OutSystems platform.

Venn Diagram explaining where OutSystems and low-code platforms fit when it comes to meet customer requirements

OutSystems users can create robust architectures that support their core businesses and applications that scale to millions of users. It works on top of a customer's preferred middleware stack and scales from small applications to large enterprise installations. Many of our customers have built complex portals and systems on OutSystems, and the independent analysts acknowledge that we are a top choice for scalable architectural development.

Need help evaluating? Download the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Low-Code Application Platforms