A new study of the vendor landscape for Low-code application platforms offers some timely advice for organizations considering Low-code. We review and comment on the report.
Low-code platforms are proving their value now, according to a new report from Forrester Research.
In the 2016 study: Vendor Landscape: The Fractured, Fertile Terrain Of Low-Code Application Platforms, Forrester says Low-code application platforms have become an important way for technology management and enterprise architecture pros to quickly deliver software to win, serve, and retain customers – and to keep that software evolving.
“Business leaders demand more solutions to win, serve and retain customers; adopting a Low-code application platform is often the response.”
– Forrester Research, Vendor Landscape: The Fractured, Fertile Terrain of Low-Code Application Platforms, January 2016
The need for Low-code development
Organizations need to continually roll out and adapt new apps and digital experiences to attract customers and keep them loyal. Traditional application development methods take too long and lack the agility to make continuous adaptation possible.
That’s created a surge in alternative, “Low-code”, development platforms, which allow applications to be configured rather than coded. Low-code can slash the amount of time needed to build new applications: the Forrester report cites real-world examples where development times have been cut from months and years to a matter of weeks.
Low-code also makes application development a viable option for people with less advanced (or even no) programming skills – empowering more people to build applications, lowering the cost of development, and alleviating the digital skills shortage that many organizations complain of.
Buyers urged to choose carefully from among 40+ Low-code platforms
The report cites 42 vendor platforms that are labelled as “Low-code”, observing that the landscape of Low-code platforms is broad and fragmented.
In all, Forrester sees five discrete categories of Low-code platform and urges enterprise architects to study the categories and options carefully before making a buying decision.
The report advises buyers to choose a Low-code platform that makes the most sense for their business – not just today but, crucially, into the future. Failing to choose carefully can mean organizations get stuck with a solution that creates more problems than it solves.
Our view of the research
We welcome this report as a timely piece of in-depth guidance that will help enterprise buyers weigh up their Low-code platform options and make the right decision for their organization.
MATS is categorized in the report as a “Low-code platform for Process Apps”. As Forrester explains, these platforms are designed for building applications that automate processes across different employee and customer roles:
“These platforms provide a rich mix of process automation, case management and social interaction features that can be configured to manage structured and unstructured business processes. Low-code platforms for process apps draw their strength from visual process and case-modeling tools that allow teams to visually configure process flow and ad-hoc task management across a range of internal and external roles, applications and database systems.”
Forrester Research, Vendor Landscape: The Fractured, Fertile Terrain of Low-Code Application Platforms, January 2016
We agree with Forrester’s prediction that mobile app-specific platforms are likely to disappear. Typically they lack process capability and, in a world rapidly moving to value omni-channel applications, we believe enterprises will adopt a single platform with strengths across web and mobile deployment, rather than fracturing development expertise across disparate platforms focused on a single deployment method.
In our view, the strength of MATS comes from its ability to very quickly build robust, enterprise-ready apps that automate customer-facing processes, as well as our ability to deploy both web and mobile front ends from a single development effort.
MATS for rapid prototyping and testing
From the start, MATS was designed to enable process-oriented apps to be modeled, built, tested and refined extremely quickly and at very low cost – making it ideal for experimenting and testing ideas. Unlike heavyweight, “general purpose” platforms, however, it’s significantly more cost-effective to scale.
Thomas Cook Group, for example, used MATS to build a pilot customer complaint-handling app in just eight weeks, using one developer. Enhancement suggestions were then implemented on the fly during a 90-day “test and learn” phase. The resulting system was deployed to over 800 reps in 92 resorts, and the whole of the customer relations team, serving over 22 million customers a year.
A solution for IT and citizen developers alike
In contrast to many Low-code solutions, which require a background in software development to unlock their potential, the intuitive, drag-and-drop interface in MATS makes it extremely easy for less technical staff to use.
This means that, as well as being a rapid development platform for central IT, MATS can be productively put to use by business-side employees after only a few days training.
MATS is empowering “citizen developers” at organizations like Adur & Worthing Councils in Sussex, which are using MATS to re-engineer core council services for a digital world, and at payment services provider Universal Payment Gateway, where the Business Improvement Team has used MATS to streamline the merchant account applications process. UPG can now handle twice the volume of work with the same number of employees in this department.
A central platform for rapid application development across the enterprise
Almost every customer-facing process has some element of case management, as do many internal, employee-facing processes, such as service desk and HR administration. Thanks to MATS’ out-of-the-box process and case management capabilities, it’s well suited to a whole range of different applications across the enterprise, and much faster than development on a general purpose platform that lacks similar strengths for process automation.
Nationwide Building Society, for example, uses MATS as a central development platform that has so far automated more than 30 customer-facing processes, from ISA switching to new account opening. Universal Payment Gateway intends to use it to automate processes spanning everything from merchant account applications and payment terminal provision to help desk and CRM.
And at Adur & Worthing Councils, MATS is now the central platform for developing all new citizen-facing apps. Adur & Worthing’s director of digital and resources, Paul Brewer, simply says: “MATS is where we build.”
Evaluate MATS today
Enterprise architects and others who have read Forrester’s report may be interested in evaluating MATS as a strategic, centralized platform for rapid application development. To take the next step, get in touch.