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Mazda Powers Legacy Migration with OutSystems to Save Millions

4x productivity increase for development
500 legacy applications to migrate
$ massive IT migration cost saving
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Mazda faced a 2025 digital cliff because the Java framework it had used for the past 10-years was reaching "end-of-life." With 500 legacy systems to migrate—and an anticipated multi-million redevelopment cost —Mazda went in search of a modern application platform to transform its app dev approach.

In 2018 Mazda adopted OutSystems and has since redeveloped multiple applications. With OutSystems, Mazda has seen a fourfold increase in developer productivity and now expects to save millions of dollars while completing its IT migration ahead of schedule.

  • Business Process Management
  • Case Management
  • Digital Core Systems
  • Legacy Modernization
  • Mobile Applications
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Web Apps & Portals
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"With OutSystems, we're replacing an enormous number of legacy systems while reducing the cost of development across the board. We're also making business operations more efficient by providing mobile support for a wide range of applications."

Seiichi Shinagawa Technical Leader IT Department, Mazda Motor Corporation

Staring Over a "2025 Digital Cliff"

Mazda Motor Corporation recently celebrated its 100-years anniversary, selling nearly 1.5 million vehicles in the year ended March 2020. Mazda is justly proud of its engineering strength and design-focused products, but back in 2016, its IT department needed to escape from a burning platform.

"We called this as our "2025 Digital Cliff," says Seiichi Shinagawa, Technical Leader IT Department at Mazda Motor Corporation. "For the previous decade, we'd relied heavily on the Java Platform SE version 8, for most in-house application development. Support for that runs out in 2025. We had around 500 legacy systems to migrate to a new technology stack, and that looked impossible."

“We selected OutSystems because of its complete feature set, including visual design and assembly, high productivity for developers, high [integration] compatibility with existing systems, support for mobile apps, and the ability to deliver refined user experiences.”

Seiichi Shinagawa Technical Leader IT Department, Mazda Motor Corporation

Mazda knew that it would take an army of developers and cost many (millions of dollars) to migrate all the applications in time unless they could dramatically improve their app dev efficiency.

Moreover, their software engineers found it difficult to keep up with the demand for new features with their current development tools. Plus, it was hard to provide users with modern, mobile-friendly experiences that would raise productivity.

Mazda started looking for a new IT framework. After considering various options, including general development frameworks, code generators, and low-code tools, Mazda settled on OutSystems as its modern application platform.

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Why Mazda chose OutSystems:
  • Full-stack visual development with no limits
  • Speed-up development and improve agility
  • Deliver web and mobile applications

Establishing Mazda's Software Development Factory and OutSystems Center of Excellence

Given the mammoth development backlog and Mazda's engineering excellence culture, the IT team decided to plan carefully, rather than rushing headlong into development. They wanted to ensure they had strong foundations to ensure consistent, efficient, and high-quality software engineering in the future.

"We aimed to use OutSystems for core systems across Mazda, so before starting a wide-scale roll-out, we needed to prepare an environment for repeatable success," says Shinagawa. "This included making interfaces with existing systems, a framework for authorization and security, and modular software architecture standards."

Most of 2018 was spent setting up this environment, but the investment has paid back ever since. "Our standards enable a consistent level of productivity and quality across projects," says Shinagawa.

Simultaneously, Mazda set up an in-house OutSystems Center of Excellence (CoE), a central team of OutSystems experts that provides governed standards and best practices to developers.

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"The CoE regularly provides one-week lean startup workshops, building UI screens, and processes directly with business representatives. The goal is to clearly understand requirements by prototyping on OutSystems. The users greatly appreciate this approach."

Seiichi Shinagawa Technical Leader IT Department, Mazda Motor Corporation

Happier Users and up to 75% Saving on Legacy Migration

While Mazda established its development standards and COE, they intentionally kept development projects to a minimum. But during 2019, adoption started to accelerate. Functions were now being implemented on the same level as they had been on the Java framework, and the development team started using OutSystems to replace its legacy Java applications.

Users liked the speed and agility of development and the much-improved user experiences of these new apps. In the second half of 2019, the number of OutSystems projects grew rapidly. The team delivered various applications, including core systems used for car manufacturing and distribution, back-office systems used by employees for internal processes, and systems for managers' daily work logs.

“We've seen a significant increase in development efficiency. We deliver simple applications up to five times faster and more complex apps around two-times faster. The quality of software delivery has improved as well. We've had no bugs attributable to problems with the platform itself.”

Seiichi Shinagawa Technical Leader IT Department, Mazda Motor Corporation

"We are increasingly using OutSystems to replace legacy systems, including those built with the old .NET Framework and others built using COBOL," says Shinagawa. "The new apps have increased operational efficiency, thanks to the improved user experience and mobile device support, and we're getting high-praise from users on the front line."

OutSystems Development ramped up rapidly in late 2019. By 2020, Mazda had taken the strategic decision to drive broad adoption of OutSystems as the standard modern application platform for future development.

Increasing Mazda's Developer Pool

As part of its strategy to avoid the "2025 digital cliff," Mazda is increasing the proportion of software developed in-house by widening its developer pool. "The goal is to regain skills that we lost due to widespread IT outsourcing, and the OutSystems visual approach to development makes this easier as well," explains Shinagawa.

"OutSystems is now our standard application development approach," says Shinagawa. "And ultimately, we want every member of the IT department to learn at least some development techniques with OutSystems."

The team has been pleasantly surprised at the rapid learning curve for new OutSystems Developers. "We use the free two-week self-study learning paths provided by OutSystems, followed by several days of Mazda specific training to embed our in-house rules and methods. We've found that even IT staff that have never programmed before can easily learn to develop a basic application in a week. So, the cost of training is low," says Shinagawa.


Development with No Limits

Mazda has been impressed by the versatility of the OutSystems platform. "Compared to conventional programming, we've found we can build almost everything we need using OutSystems," says Shinagawa.

Mazda is now rapidly working to end its reliance on legacy systems, retiring those that are no longer needed and extending the lives of others with the help of OutSystems. The company is using OutSystems both to replace legacy systems and create new, innovative applications. The company expects to reduce its legacy migration cost by two-thirds to three-quarters—a multi-million dollar saving.

Looking Ahead

Shinagawa says that the company wants "to continue rolling-out OutSystems, using it to replace the enormous number of legacy systems and reduce development costs across the board. We also want to use it to improve the efficiency of business operations, especially by providing mobile support for a wide range of applications."

He continues, "At Mazda, we see visual development as an important pillar of system development, alongside conventional programming. We look forward to seeing OutSystems continue to evolve as a platform that dramatically improves the productivity and speed of software development."