Now, you can change the way you build software with OutSystems. Using high-productivity, connected, and AI-assisted tools, developers can build and deploy a full range of applications — from consumer apps to critical business systems.
Mark Weaser, VP Asia Pacific at OutSystems, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: What is the importance of low code for enterprises and how will it help address the rising customer demand?
Mark Weaser: First, it will help the enterprises to compete. We have been in a period of tremendous change around app development for many years. It was driven by many technologies, such as cloud, mobile IoT, AI, etc. That has now been accelerated due to Covid-19. It is imperative to transform digitally, and low-code helps them to do that. With Covid-19, almost all major enterprises are rewriting their corporate strategies. Almost all feel that a strong digital strategy will prosper. That’s where low-code comes in to help them build apps a lot faster, and in an agile manner.
DQ: What will be the benefit of the low-code apps?
Mark Weaser: There are certainly many benefits, and three come to mind. Low-code is automating the process of building software products. Companies like Outsystems are really disrupting the software development industry, much like the other industries that have been disrupted by technology.
If you talk to any of our customers, they say, the speed of developing an app with low-code is much faster than the traditional hand-coding method. It is up to 5-10 times faster. Projects that earlier took a year and a half to do, are being completed in a couple of months. That is particularly important in times of Covid-19. The customers can’t wait for over a year to develop new apps. They have customer needs that are changing on an ongoing basis. They need to deliver value. So, the first is the need for speed.
Second is the agility. With the low-code platform, you can make changes to the app much easier, than the traditional way. Low-code is a platform, and that is platform-as-a-service, where you can make changes as the customers’ needs changes. In the traditional way, you would need to first build a project plan and then do the changes, as they happened. You need to be agile to reach to the market quickly. Covid-19 has exposed that nearly all the companies need to be able to now make changes very quickly.
Third, low-code platforms provide faster business value. If you are a CFO, you need to know whether a project is going to deliver value quickly. Companies can’t really wait a year now to start seeing value now. The low-code, with its speed, allows you to deliver value much quicker.
DQ: Who all can build on low-code, and how fast can they adapt an app?
Mark Weaser: We try to train the professional developers, and we are quite good at that to help them learn the methodology around low-code. The technology is relatively easier to learn than traditional coding. We can take fresh graduates and train them up. We also have business users that can have some level of technical background that can help learn our technical platform.
Our target is really the professional developers. We are automating the process of building an app. It will really change the role of the developer in the future. They will become much more productive.
DQ: What are the OutSystems offerings, and what are some of the use cases?
Mark Weaser: We offer a platform-as-a-service. Companies subscribe to our platform. They pay a fee to be able to develop on that platform, and perhaps, along with their business partners. We work with business partners across the world.
There are three major types of use cases. First is the digital operations. That is, to use the platform to develop apps for internal use inside a company or an enterprise.
We call them B2B apps for the workforce of a company, an enterprise, or the government. They can also be mobile apps or web apps. It can be for say, back-office functions like HR, management, finance, etc. Anything that was paper-based before, can now be put to an app. That’s where the whole movement started some years ago.
Digital experiences are growing with the popularity of the platform, with apps, and mobile apps for the customers to use. Digital experiences are for your customers and their customers need. A low-code platform allows building web or local apps. It covers IoS, Android, Web apps.
A third area, which is growing very fast, is called the digital core. These are replacing or augmenting the existing systems. What our platform can do: if you have a legacy ERP system, you can now customize it. You can customize the ERP system, drop APIs down the legacy system, and be able to maintain the legacy system. You can build the high-change and high-customization apps. We see a lot of companies using our platforms to replace the legacy systems, or augment the existing systems.
We have a security company in Singapore. They have built at least 20 apps in six months. They have mobile-enabled many of their apps. They have built customized systems over their legacy system to extend the life and value of their system.
We have another case study in India. We have worked with Schneider Electric in Bangalore. They built over 100 apps over a three-year period. They also trained over a hundred developers. They told us that their low-code developers are three times more productive than the traditional developers. They built the digital factory. They have built apps for subsidiaries across the world, and to replace some older technologies.
There are many other examples in the banking and insurance spaces. A customer in the digital experience area built a customer-facing mobile app in only 90 days. That helped increase their market share and revenue.
Some industries have adopted the technology faster than the others. There are banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, etc. We also have telcos, logistics companies, governments, healthcare companies, etc. One telco is using our platform for digital operations and replacement of core systems. They have built over 60 apps on the platform, consolidated their CRM and HR systems. They have saved 75% of time compared to traditional development.
This is a very enabling technology. Low-code is revolutionizing the way companies build apps. Automation is making this faster. The introduction of artificial intelligence is speeding up the process even more.
DQ: When it comes to security, how are you ensuring low-code complies?
Mark Weaser: Security is a very important area. We have put in a lot of investment into security and SOC 2 compliance. SOC 2 defines criteria for managing customer data based on five “trust service principles”—security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. It is also a reason many enterprises choose our platform due to our focus on security and scalability.
DQ: What are the trends and future potential of low-code?
Mark Weaser: According to Gartner, by 2024, 75% of all the apps built around the world will use low-code tools. Over the next four years, we will see low-code grow very quickly. Low-code will become faster, agile, and help do things much faster. Companies are using low-code to modernize their legacy systems.
A couple of years ago, we saw low-code addressing the internal apps needs. Companies are now using it to modernize legacy systems. There are huge costs savings. They will definitely become more agile. Many other companies may have difficulties in competing.
DQ: How is low-code doing in comparison to no-code?
Mark Weaser: Customers do have algorithms that are written in high-code. Apps connect to other systems. No-code platforms are there for very simple apps to solve simple problems. OutSystems can do much more enterprise-grade type of apps that require scalability, and have backend security. No-code will continue to proliferate around the world. When you start integrating those into enterprise systems, you will need a much more robust platform.
DQ: How does low-code make development cheaper?
Mark Weaser: Low-code is an enabling technology. It has become a topic of discussion. We believe that low-code helps developers become more productive. We see the role of the developer evolving with this technology. Skill, such as UX and UI, and architecture tools become much more important to the organizations. The role of the developer will change.
A change is mindset is also required. We allow training for our customers, sponsor developer communities to promote low-code. That’s a big focus for OutSystems in India, right now. You can also download a personal version and train how to use technology. We also allow governed-citizen development on the platform. The IT manager or CIO can control citizen development. Companies have a shortage of developers. Our tools allow developers to become more productive, and companies to become more agile. We see developers evolving to develop low-code technology.
DQ: What is your focus for the India market?
Mark Weaser: OutSystems is focused on the India market. We will be announcing a new leader in the next couple of weeks. He is a very experienced leader, and has a track record of bringing foreign software companies into the Indian market.
We are looking at making India a big part of OutSystems’ growth, not only domestically, but also, globally. We will be investing in India, and have presence in Bangalore and Mumbai. OutSystems is very committed to the Indian market, and we see India as a major enabler.