SaaS apps a ‘thing of the past’ – Mendix looks to drive low-code industrial change
Siemens-owned Mendix has announced “massive enhancements” to its low-code software development platform to enable IoT ‘makers’ to assemble and monetise new digital products. It has declared prescriptive software-as-a-service applications a “thing of the past” as drag-and-drop, non-specialist, low-code software development starts to drive industrial change on a wider scale.
The Boston-based outfit, acquired by Siemens in 2017 as part of a major spending spree on industrial software enablement companies, said the shortage of traditional software developers remains “acute”, and exaggerated further by spiralling demand for digitalization and automation in the Covid-19 era. It cited the need to democratise software programming, with low-code functionality, within certain key sectors, notably the manufacturing, financial services, public sector, retail, and healthcare markets.
Mendix has extended its platform, allowing non-specialists to leverage pre-coded building blocks to build applications, with an ‘industry clouds’ package that bundles best-practices and reusable templates with stakeholders in each industrial segment. The idea is to create a “low-code community” around each vertical segment, which includes software users as well as developers and other partners.
Mendix has debuted packages for the manufacturing and financial services industries. “Each comprises… curated building blocks and components specific to addressing challenges found in that industry,” it said. New industry clouds will be introduced next year for the public sector, education, and healthcare industries.
Speaking at the company’s Mendix World event in its hometown of Boston, Derek Roos, co-founder and chief executive at Mendix, said: “The line between consumption and creation is blurring. Brokering more collaboration between low-code makers and low-code consumers unlocks new business opportunities, enabling the commercialization of new digital capabilities, and the data that flows through them.”
The tailored building blocks include connectors to data sources and systems of record, APIs, app services, workflows, templates, and adaptive solutions, it said. Mendix claims 250,000 ‘members’ as part of its ‘maker community’. Roos declared: “There are no barriers to our low-code makers’ ability to innovate and drive the next wave of enterprise acceleration in today’s networked economy.”
In a supplied quote, Peter Hughes, group head of application development at Corant Global Insurance, commented: “Everyone is building solutions in isolation of one another. This approach has us joining a community that shares the use of best practices, common patterns, and accommodation of standards.”
Alongside, Mendix has introduced industry-specific solution templates for enterprises to build branded software products. For manufacturing, it is launching solution templates for smart warehousing, predictive maintenance, and smart workforce planning. For the financial industry, it is introducing templated solutions for credit rating, claims management, and portfolio management. T
Raffaello Lepratti, vice president of manufacturing at Mendix, said: “The adaptive solutions enable customers to achieve value along the entire digital thread lifecycle. Typically, these span domains as disparate as engineering, operations, field services, [and] factory automation. The adaptive solutions enable customers to maximize the value from respective core investments across domains without high maintenance costs or specialized expertise.”
Meanwhile, the company is now allowing organisations to “productize their own services as capabilities” in the Mendix Marketplace. Mendix’s new AppServices Framework includes provisioning, metering, billing, and security for enterprises to merchandise products. “Mendix is fostering a vibrant commercial exchange between enterprise customers and low-code creators,” it said.
As well, the company has introduced a new ‘solutions platform’ to allow software vendors to do the same, and market adaptive solutions to enterprises via the Mendix Marketplace. In addition to integrated metering and billing, the platform also includes IP protection, extensibility, and maintainability to provide an easy and secure way for makers to sell their wares. It said solutions sold via the platform can be adapted without risk to the underlying IP.
Roos said: “With new, scalable adaptive solutions that can be quickly assembled from reusable components, we believe that fixed, prescriptive software-as-a-service applications are a thing of the past. A shift to digital-first engagement requires highly personalized experiences for both customers and employees. Rigid off-the-shelf software isn’t going to meet customer or team member expectations or deliver real business value.”
He added: “The [new solutions]… empower Mendix makers to deliver more relevant solutions faster than ever. Enterprises can kickstart their innovation process by leveraging the ecosystem of a vastly larger, vetted, and highly accomplished number of low-code makers. Low-code principles have been widely recognized as force multipliers. They will continue to guide and empower us in the decade ahead.”