“We talk about the future, and in a sense, the future is already here,” says Jornt Moerland, the Asia Pacific regional vice-president at low-code application development platform Mendix.
With a global reach of more than 50 million end users, more than 200,000 apps built, and upwards of 250,000 active developers on the platform since it was founded in 2005, US-based Mendix’ success is clear and substantial.
In the spectre of IT talent shortages caused by tightening labour markets and labour shortages, the Mendix low-code/no-code platform offers a flexible, portable and easy-to-use solution.
“Low code is seen as the future of application development,” Mr Moerland says. “Organisations are under a lot of pressure to deliver more for less. And business is screaming for these digital solutions.”
He says IT can’t keep up with demand for software development. The necessity for endemic organisational change to become more agile in delivering digital experiences in light of fast changing customer needs is unequivocal.
This evolution needs to be powered by a technology that supports this organisational change, Mr Moerland says.
Citing the Gartner-coined term ‘composable enterprise’, which is a business philosophy whereby an organisation is structured on interchangeable building blocks, is an apt description of where Mendix makes its presence felt.
“We bring low-code mentality to all parts of your organisation as the, quote-unquote, all-in-one application development platform for the enterprise,” Mr Moerland says.
“We enable a wide range of users to become part of the custom-software development journey — and this is where you, as an organisation, can differentiate yourself.”
That’s because you will need fewer people to build your applications faster; to increase your time to market for custom digital solutions.
The lowdown on low code
Simply put, low code is an application development method that converts textual to visual coding. Rather than a technical coding environment, low code abstracts and automates part of the development process, so the developer can focus the value adding actives in a drag-and-drop fashion – making the technology extremely user friendly.
Mendix gives businesses a route to transform the app development process. Low-code app development creates a way for teams to translate their ideas rapidly and continuously into business value by providing tools for streamlining the development process. This enables the whole organisation to participate in the app development process, regardless of coding experience.
“This improves the quality for the end solution significantly, requiring far fewer people to build the applications,” Mr Moerland says.
The differences between business process automation software and low-code software are also telling. The former operates well locally, but loses traction in a stateless tech setting.
“The moment you venture out of the local process, it becomes very clunky, very fast. And more often than not, you have to resort to custom code again, which was the problem that you wanted to solve to begin with,” Mr Moerland says.
“That covers the vast majority of cases we typically like to address, and that means you can build much more sophisticated solutions,” he says.
“So if you care about great user experiences, if you care about logic, if you care about data structures in a stateless way, if you care about integration interfaces, then you typically have to venture beyond business-process mass solutions.”
Growth leads to innovation
Mendix’s foray into the Asia-Pacific region proves that with growth comes innovation.
“After the acquisition by (German automation and tech giant) Siemens in 2018, it allowed us to venture into the APAC region (including China, India, Japan, Korea and Australia). The Siemens mothership enabled us to accelerate our expansion here,” Mr Moerland says.
Establishing itself in Australia in 2020 with a small local team, Mendix has a customer base of 20-plus in banking, financial services, insurance, logistics (with Toll Group, one of the nation’s biggest logistics/energy companies) and Coopers Brewery.
Lessons learnt also helped Mendix overcome its initial organisational challenges.
When asked whether the businesses that adopt the Mendix platform were able to access technical support or become independent operators, Mr Moerland says: “That’s a very good question. Historically, we provided the companies with a platform like Mendix – and we were surprised when they were not always successful.
“That’s because it’s not only about adopting a technology, but it’s also about driving organisational change. Over time, we have helped over 1000 companies in their digital transformation journey, based on those lessons we have developed our own framework to bring quick and sustainable value to our customers.” he says.
Labelled the ‘maturity model’, this comprises the ‘start’, ‘structure’ and ‘scale maturity’ model. The key is starting small to become familiar with the technology before structuring with reusable components as the building blocks for scaling the platform company wide.
“This is exactly what we are currently doing with Toll Group,” Mr Moerland says. “They adopted the Mendix platform as a strategic capability within their organisation to drive change. And we help them with our four-P model, which is the second part of our methodology,” he sayd.
“This involves the portfolio, people, process and the platform. We basically provide them with all the ingredients to be successful.”
The four-P model’s sum of its parts, when working in unison, has proven to register high success rates.
“Research shows that Mendix customers reduce their overall development effort by up to 70 per cent,” Mr Moerland says.
“The philosophy of adopting a technology like Mendix with speed in your organisation shows that the faster you can reap the benefits, the faster you will have your enterprise aligned”.
Mendix is the only platform in the market that covers the complete developer spectrum — all the way from non-technical developers to hardcore developers and anything in between, Mr Moerland says.
“We also support multiple user personas on the platform. When we first started, we only had developers. Now we also see other stakeholders in the business: product owners and security officers that are participating in the way we develop our software,” he said.
“We can provide them governance tools so they are in control. This prevents the issues that shadow IT brought in the past and ensures a level of security.”
“Mendix’s cloud native architecture enables its platform to benefit from being portable, scalable and being much more resilient and out of the box”.
In addition, Mendix’s cybersecurity focus has resulted in certification that allows the platform to work with regulated industries like defence contractors or financial institutions in the US.
Testament to the company’s advancement in low-code platform technology is Gartner’s claim that by 2023, 75 per cent of larger organisations will have at least four low-code tools at their disposal — further proof that low code is increasingly in high demand.
This article was produced by InnovationAus.com in partnership with Mendix.
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