How to Accelerate Business Innovation Through Ecosystem

Picture of Jethro Borsje

Sharing to accelerate innovation has been a cornerstone of the software industry from its beginnings. Open-source software and an industry focus on reusability have propelled development forward in ways that otherwise may have never been possible. Today, this sharing takes a new form in platform ecosystems.

Limiting software development only to what’s available and possible within the four walls of your business results in unrealized potential. As a low-code implementation partner, your addressable market is only as big as your sales force can cover. As a customer using low-code, you may be developing more quickly, but there is still a great deal of efficiency yet to be realized.

Who Wins in the Ecosystem?

Before Mendix, I was CTO at longtime implementation partner, TimeSeries, which has offered me unique insight into the challenges both partners and customers face in the land of low-code. My goal as Chief Ecosystems Solutions Officer at Mendix is to create opportunities for businesses to generate greater demand for their products and expertise, while enabling them to shorten time-to-value for their customers by making these products more readily accessible in one place. That place is the Mendix Ecosystem.

An ecosystem, in short, is an interconnected system. In the world of low-code, and Mendix, that includes the community and collection of tools that exist between our platform, customers, and partners.

As to who benefits from the Ecosystem, the answer is simple: everyone. As a partner or customer, you can participate in two ways:

  • Leverage the ecosystem to deliver more quickly. One of the many promises of low-code is speed to market through abstraction and automation of development. This speed increases infinitely when you can take a piece of functionality (such as 3D visualization or advanced audit trailing) or an entire business process (like insurance underwriting) and can use it, ready-made, without starting from scratch.
  • Share in the ecosystem to grow your business. These ready-made solutions can be created and monetized by any organization in the Mendix Ecosystem. By harnessing the domain knowledge within your business, you can create solutions that serve as a foundation for other makers to expand upon and customize to their specific needs.

Taking part in both sides – consuming and contributing – offers you the ability to test and learn quickly, lending to true business transformation.

Expand Your Horizons

A common starting point is using the Mendix platform to create an ecosystem in your own organization. It’s never too early to invest in developing a standard look and feel for your applications or a library of custom components specific to your business processes.

The City of Rotterdam has developed a powerful ecosystem within their organization, making it easy for their teams to reuse interfaces for forms which require the collection of common citizen inputs such as name, address, or BSN, as well as different data sources through the Mendix Connect. The speed offered by the reuse of these components has helped them to deliver over 100 low-code applications in just under 4 years to digitalize a range of citizen and employee processes.

The Mendix Marketplace is also a goldmine of composable, out-of-the-box functionality your app may need, but that you don’t have a dedicated development resource to build from scratch. You’ll find building blocks to modernize your user experiences, such as:

  • Connectors, for example, to your SAP systems or AWS services
  • Widgets, to embed features such as Google Maps or barcode scanners
  • App Templates, for common use-cases in your industry like customer onboarding in banking or insurance claims management

It’s not just Mendix who can populate the Marketplace with these best-in-class building blocks for successful applications – it’s also you.

Compete In a Software-Driven World

Mendix ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) are pioneering this space. An implementation partner like Valcon (formerly known as First Consulting) has years of experience supporting customers in industries like financial services, retail, or industrials. As their teams develop deep domain expertise in a given industry – for example, insurance – they can identify commonalities in workflows, functionality, and configuration that any insurance organization may need as they digitalize.

Valcon used this expertise to develop the Humble Bee Insurance Suite, which includes pre-built solutions to support across the insurance customer lifecycle such as a client portal, broker portal, claims & case handling, and underwriting.

Any organization with industry expertise can create a generic starter solution and include it in the Mendix Marketplace where it will be discoverable by other users, allowing them to:

  • Easily test market need for solutions and business processes
  • Quickly gather user feedback and iterate to better monetize what they’ve created
  • Increase the size of their addressable market by selling into the Mendix customer base

Unlock Business Transformation

Delivering innovative software has become table-stakes in a world where customers and employees expect to get the most out of their digital tools. Whether they want to or not, nearly every organization in the world – from insurers to manufacturers to banks – are also becoming software businesses.

Entertainment production company, Solomon Group, is known for delivering immersive and engaging event experiences such as the Super Bowl or the Essence Music Festival. Their team adopted low-code to deliver digital, consumer-grade solutions to manage processes such as ticketing or capacity at events. After seeing success with these solutions within their own company, Solomon Group realized that there were other event production companies who could use these same tools and created an entertainment technology spin-off, WRSTBND, opening an entirely new line of business.

Leveraging the Mendix Ecosystem allows you to better serve your customers and contributing to it can help you reach new ones. The drive to create something great and then allow others to innovate upon your work is still at the core of modern software delivery, and it starts in the ecosystem.