One of the best practices in rapid application development is to use a “top-down” approach, which means starting with the UX first. If you don’t have a visually appealing, user-centric app that delivers the best possible customer experience, then product doesn’t deliver the value, even if the code is stellar.
We sat down with Ron van der Burg, CEO at Servoy, and Sean Devlin, VP of Product at Servoy, to do a deep dive and learn more about some of the misconceptions around the limitations of a low-code platform.
1. What are you seeing right now in the marketplace when it comes to modernizing applications or creating new ones? What is it that ISV organizations are most hungry for?
What I’m hearing from our customers and seeing across the industry is that when ISVs are thinking about modernizing enterprise applications, their key focus is to deliver an amazing user experience. Most successful software vendors get that users are less interested in the back-end coding of an app—they just want it to work. Users want applications that are intuitive and easy to use, ones that enable them to seamlessly achieve business results or accomplish essential tasks. They are not that interested in the nuts and bolts of the back-end coding. For many developers and other techies, this results-driven approach is a completely different way to look at apps. Gone are the days when a user enters data into the software and gets a report at the end of the day. When users work with a software product today, they want to feel empowered by it in a big way.
This means users expect apps to be accessible whenever, wherever. Yet some ISVs still have customer apps deployed on premise. This does offer advantages in terms of local availability but can have big drawbacks when it comes to running the software anytime, any place. And today’s users? An app that is highly available is a given as an expected, built-in performance feature as is the ability to remotely access the application any time of the day or night.
I totally agree, Ron. I would just add that today, modernization is really a shift from systems-of-record (SORs) to systems-of-engagement (SOEs). What I mean by this is that modernization is rarely a complete rewrite of core systems. Instead, it’s layering new product value on top of the monolithic application and delivering it to users in a way which is highly consumable and easily integrated into their day-to-day activities.
2. Why is UX so important for any application?
The answer to this seems a bit obvious, but you would be surprised at how many devOps teams start with features/functionality, and not the UX and the most viable product (MVP) first. You can have the most robust app in the world, but if users don’t find it visually appealing and easy to use, you are going to have a less than satisfying customer experience and less engagement. It’s a best practice to start with this top-down approach and for good reason.
When you think about it, ISVs are already held to a very high standard when it comes to UX. Unlike internal applications, their users are their customers. In this regard, UX demands are closer to business-to-consumer type applications. And the demand for delivering continuously enhanced user experiences is even stronger for modernization projects. Stakeholders expect new product value (with improved features and functionality) and improved user experience are one in the same. Great UX actually creates tangible value.
3. In your engagement with software companies and their developer teams, do you find that some of them underestimate what a low-code platform can do for UX in an enterprise application?
What is always underestimated is the many non-functional things that have to be part of an application. That can be things that are close to the application logic, like how to do multilanguage or whether it’s things that are closer to deployment, security and hosting.
I would just add that it also depends on their prior experience. Some teams come out of limited “RAD tooling” environments. For them, I think modern low-code is a natural outgrowth of this kind of experience. But their challenge is to find a low-code solution that empowers them to go beyond the limits of the legacy tooling. In particular, they’re looking for solutions that deliver anywhere: cloud, on-prem, web, mobile and native desktop. And of course, they must be empowered to create great UX without sacrificing productivity. Developer teams working with tell us they appreciate the granular customization the Servoy platform offers. For example, they can go into a grid and totally customize it based on a customer’s requirements.
4. How does Servoy’s low-code platform differ from others in the market?
We combine the best of two worlds, low code and full code. We intentionally designed Servoy this way because we believe developers should be empowered—not limited—by the platform. It lets you build pixel-perfect UX and code-optimal business logic while still using the platform’s nonfunctionals.
I think another key difference in our platform is that we started in the classic rapid application development (RAD) tooling space two decades ago. But we continued to evolve, where others gave up. It was challenging, but we connected our customers to future-proof solutions during every major disruption to the business applications landscape. As a result, we have a very mature core, which supports complexity and freedom—and ongoing evolution in technology.
5. So Servoy offers a UI flexibility not available in competitive offerings. What exactly are we talking about? Can you give us some examples?
Our front-end engine gives you many components out of the box. And you can style them to your liking using plain LESS/CSS. We provide all these components as open source so you have the ability to enhance them, or you can build your own. Regardless of what you choose, these components will feel native to the platform.
We’ve also seen that many low-code players are coming from a different direction. Often the goal is to enable business users to quickly create departmental applications for the cloud and the web to fill in the gaps of enterprise systems.
Servoy’s value is different in three significant ways:
- UX freedom. What we mean here is that ISVs are empowered to deliver the experiences that match their user’s specific workflows. This is done not only by providing rich UI components (i.e., scheduling, very advanced, customizable grids, data visualization, and doc management, to name a few) but also by providing frameworks to enrich the experience itself, such as navigation, personalization, and low-level events.
- Device freedom. Modern software products are fit-for-purpose and must meet the business user where they work. We’re talking rugged vehicles in warehouses, agriculture fields and airplane hangars; native desktop machines that control machinery on the shop floor or that talk to medical devices; and of course, web portals that can reach thousands of concurrent users in a multi-multi-tenant architecture.
- Deployment freedom. Software teams, and ISVs in particular, don’t always get to choose how they can deploy. They need solutions which they can host in a private cloud or deliver on-premises to corporate IT or host on their favorite public cloud provider. Many low-code solutions insist that you host with them or pay extra for enterprise on-prem options. At Servoy, we offer value-added hosting, but we also understand that you must take your apps wherever the users go.
6. What are some of Servoy’s customers saying about the UX freedom in the platform?
Developers using our out-of-the-box components feel empowered because they are beautiful, powerful and easy-to-use, without having to know their internal coding. At the same time, more advanced developers have the freedom to extend the platform and leverage it to the next level for their use.
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Connect with Ron and Sean on LinkedIn to get more insights and Servoy updates:
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