As the newest member of the Mendix team, I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself to the community and reflect on the opportunity ahead. In the few short weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve been blown away by Mendix’s ability to help companies of all shapes and sizes drive business innovation remarkably fast.
But despite the clear value to IT project success and business innovation efforts, many companies have yet to implement an application Platform-as-a-Service (aPaaS) like Mendix. One reason is clear: with demands from the business growing and IT resources are more and more constrained, both IT and business stakeholders simply may not know that better alternatives exist.
Take my previous company, for example. A large, multinational corporation with a variety of autonomous business units. Despite the desire to innovate, I found my business unit to be stuck in the mud when it came to turning ideas into apps and actually getting things done.
As a marketer at this company, we relied on a variety of applications to help track and execute various efforts. But unfortunately, most were hacked together due to the rigidity of our legacy systems. What we ended up using was slow to move the needle and generally made IT cringe.
At the time, I didn’t know about aPaaS offerings, nor did anyone in IT suggest new ways around our ongoing problem. And while it may be too late for me to reap the benefits of innovation at my previous company, it shouldn’t be for others. Application development and innovation should always be possible; these days, it’s necessary for survival. Because in the end, without the right software applications in place, how can a business succeed?
To help get the word out, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how my previous employer could solve some of their innovation hurdles. This is not an extensive list, by any means. However, I hope that the ideas showcase the unique ways that business and IT leaders can come together and drive change. This is really the hardest part. Once you have the idea, aPaaS makes the rest easy.
I’ve provided three examples, based on three key areas where aPaaS adds the most value:
1. Rapid application delivery
My idea: a mobile app that collects prospect information at an event. You can customize it to your brand, include any number of relevant fields, and even select and automate the follow up actions required. This information can then easily flow into your marketing/sales database – without the manual work often required.
Why: as our expectations regarding our event presence expanded, so did our needs for a strong event infrastructure. In order to track interest from our customers, we needed a way to input customer information at events and ensure timely follow up afterward. Beyond this, we wanted to maintain a branded front, and ensure immediate email follow up to keep the dialogue moving.
2. Extending rigid legacy systems
My idea: create an app to track specifications associated with each new customer purchase. For example, which customers agree to testimonials or which customers use multiple products (and where).
Why: While much of this information resided in our existing CRM, it would have been impossible to extract it without significant manual work and customization. An aPaaS would have allowed us to more easily build a bite-sized app on top of our CRM for this specific purpose.
3. Business involvement in app development and maintenance
My idea: revamp the employee news portal leveraging an aPaaS. In this way, employees can easily access important company news through any device, even an app on their mobile phone.
Why: maintaining employee engagement is paramount. The previous portal only allowed employees to access news in the office. Moreover, changes to the news feed required a developer and took time to implement. An aPaaS would empower business users like myself to easily make these changes on the fly.
Now, I realize these ideas are not revolutionary. However, the way to market with each idea is new. Historically, these efforts would have required significant development time and resources, whether internal or through third party consultants. However, a new option now exists – using an aPaaS to allow IT and business users to jointly build and configure apps in a fraction of the time and budget. These ideas can now be put into motion faster, so that businesses can test solutions, and iterate over time.
I hope these examples help showcase the unique ways that aPaaS can make an impact. In the end, it’s all about business innovation. I hope to help get the word out on how Mendix helps businesses collaborate, design and develop innovation applications. Stay tuned for more use case examples (or submit a comment with your own ideas)!