Mendix: As Our Mission Evolves, Our Purpose Endures

Technology. We hear that term and think of the latest, greatest thing. The sharpest line of the cutting edge.

Big changes in technology are often explosive and sudden. ChatGPT wasn’t a thing. Then, it was.

But when you look at those new, ground-breaking technologies – the history stretches back farther than you would imagine. And that past matters, because technology isn’t a series of headline-worthy big bang moments but an evolution of thoughts, ideas, risks, and rewards.

Then, now, next

You could trace the roots of low-code all the way back to the 1970s. Fourth-generation programming languages – used from the 70s to the 90s – mark the earliest attempt to abstract long-form coding and open up the development process to non-developers.

Low-code as a defined technology is still quite young, but even well before the world ran on software – people were trying to figure out faster ways to build it.

The founders of Mendix were in pursuit of a similar goal, but they didn’t just want to build software faster. They wanted to build better software faster.

Almost 20 years ago the Mendix founders looked at the state of development and realized it had to change. The current state was untenable – IT took months or years to develop bespoke software for their business partners, only to deploy that application to end users whose requirements and expectations had evolved considerably over the time the application was built.

Our founders were looking to the future – demand for software was growing rapidly – and there was no way the broken system everyone was stuck in could possibly meet the exponential increase.

But the original Mendix developers also understood the past. They knew traditional development took too long. They knew that the divide between the business and IT – so long and so well established – wasn’t helping anyone. They knew the waterfall method was tried and true but limiting.

As software engineers, they also understood that technology doesn’t wait on anyone. If they were going to build a software development platform to stand the test of time, it had to be one that adapted and grew as technology and development methodologies did.

What began as visual, abstracted coding has now turned into full-scale, enterprise software development. The Mendix Platform accounts for every stage of the software development lifecycle. And it works best when everyone – from developer to end user – is involved in the process.

A history of our mission in taglines

This idea of Mendix being built to change has been captured in the history of our organization’s branded taglines. Here’s a bit of our history.

We’ve come a long way.

No code. Just glory. (2011)

Our organization’s first tagline speaks to our early drive to get to the point – to launch low-code applications quickly and often. Mendix was six years old at the time and in the early 2000’s six years for a start-up was a big deal.

It still is – 63% of tech startups don’t make it past their first five years.

The App Platform (2012)

Only a year later, we made a bold claim. If it’s an application – you build it on Mendix.

To some degree, this philosophy still rings true – Mendix has always been an application development platform – and it always will be. But as Mendix continued to evolve, we weren’t just an app platform.

Go make it (2019)

Collaborative development has always been at the heart of what Mendix is and enables, but in 2019 we had a vision where everyone could be a maker with Mendix. The Platform would open up full-lifecycle development to everyone from seasoned developers to tenured procurement professionals.

”Go make it” was a rallying cry for anyone with a good idea to go make it happen with Mendix.

However, as time went by, we didn’t see as many makers emerge – so much as collaborators. A common thread we do see in our most successful customers is a broad swath of people from all across an organization working together to build something better than they could have done alone and siloed in their own departments.

A world where ideas become outcomes (2023)

Our mission is to mobilize organizations to make better software, faster.

Democratized development is still a part of it, but rather than enabling everyone to build their own software, we’re now focused on inviting all kinds of collaborators into the development process.

If you think about it – you’re missing out on a lot of ideas if you deny access to the people who want to contribute. Not everyone wants to build software. Let’s be honest – not everyone can. But everyone who uses an application can bring their unique insight and expertise to bear on the final product.
In an enterprise where the development process is accessible – and governed – you’re able to combine the diverse and vital expertise of the business with IT’s technical know-how. This means better applications are deployed faster.

When this collaborative process becomes the standard practice for how an organization builds software, first-time-right applications are delivered quickly and often. At that point, the value starts to speak for itself.

Fast, faster, fastest

Faster time to delivery. This may not be the single unifying need from every customer and prospect we talk to – but it’s an undeniable theme.

There’s a reason why the no- and low-code market comprises over 300 vendors now. Everyone is using it. Because abstracting long-form coding out of the development process and welcoming more experience and knowledge into the fold means you’re deploying more software much faster. And everyone needs that.

But it’s not enough.

Even if all your development actions happen in Mendix, you couldn’t keep up with today’s – let alone tomorrow’s – demand.
You need to move towards composable application development.

Boiled down – composability is building applications with reusable components so you can deploy more applications faster and realize value sooner.
This is already happening.

According to Gartner, “by 2025, 60% of the new custom business applications will be built using reusable business services via a shared curated component catalog or marketplace.”¹

In two short years, most applications will be built with components that were designed for reuse. This is the next step in how organizations continue to accelerate time-to-market. Gartner predicts that “By 2026, 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams as internal providers of reusable services, components and tools for application delivery.”²

Adaptable templates, reusable widgets, partner-built solutions – you will need to leverage all these to make and deploy all the software your organization needs. And you won’t be able to create all those reusable components in-house. You’ll need to rely on a digital ecosystem of vendors, platforms, tools, and partners to provide a functional depth of reusable building blocks.

Expanding ecosystems

If you’re already a Mendix customer, we are a part of the ecosystem you’re building around your own organization.

But let me give you some insight into how our own ecosystem is growing through our partnership with AWS and the development of the Mendix Independent Software Vendor (ISV) program.

AWS offers a best-in-class suite of services that support intelligent application development. But, to make the most of those services you need a repeatable way to get them into your applications. Madhu Raman, Worldwide Head of Automation Business at AWS, said of the Mendix-AWS collaboration: “AWS customers can now rapidly assemble real-world intelligent automation applications with Mendix on AWS.”

We are developing an ever-growing catalog of connectors so developers can easily integrate AWS services into their applications. AWS customers can purchase the Mendix Platform through the AWS Marketplace. The Mendix Cloud is also fully powered by AWS.

Our collaboration with AWS supports faster, smarter application development for both our customer bases.

Goliath organizations like SAP and AWS are likely cornerstones for many digital ecosystems, but the burgeoning independent software vendor (ISV) will play an increasingly larger role in composability going forward.

“The global Independent Software Vendor market is estimated to grow from USD 202.85 million in 2020 to USD 408.15 million by 2027, at a CAGR of 12.66%.” Jay McBain, Principle Analyst for Forrester, predicted the market’s growth in terms of actual vendors, “I estimate there are more than 100,000 software companies (ISVs) today around the world — up from 10,000 only ten years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised, with the level of hyperspecialization new buyers are demanding, to see that number grow to 1 million by 2027.”

Mendix is uniquely suited to support this expanding market. It can be challenging for software companies with high-value products to market to larger enterprise customers. There are also organizations that aren’t software vendors but want to white-label and sell an application they built in-house that has high commercial potential. The Mendix ISV program can help any organization build, maintain, and market its solutions to a broad customer base.

Our ISV partners are populating the Mendix ecosystem with everything from holistic adaptable solutions to drag-and-drop, industry-specific widgets.

    • Socotra is now building Mendix applications to extend its value proposition on top of its policy administration offerings.
    • Siemens Opcenter Execution Foundation – a rich and mature MES which supports manufacturing execution in process and discrete industries – now offers embedded low code powered by Mendix to create more personalized user interfaces and experiences.
    • The Mendix DLM for fashion and retail is a solution for emerging and mid-market brands to streamline ideation, design, merchandising, development, and sourcing.

Digital ecosystems are not a new concept, but they are only recently becoming an essential one. The Mendix ecosystem is an extension of our Platform – as it serves the core purpose of enabling our customers to build digital solutions that make an impact. But we’re also expanding our own ecosystem so our customers have easy access to the components and partners they need to build and deploy solutions quickly.

Turn ideas into outcomes – over and over

We’re now only weeks away from releasing Mendix 10.0 – and the Platform has certainly adapted and evolved since its initial launch.

And it will continue to change.

Because it has to. New technologies and novel concepts will be integrated into the Mendix Platform. Governance and security controls will change to meet evolving global needs. More templates and components will be added to our Marketplace. More partners will connect to our customers through a growing ecosystem.

When we release Mendix 20.0, far down the road, it will be a very different Platform than what we know today. That version of Mendix will be supporting customers with radically different needs in a drastically different world.

The Platform must change so our mission can remain resolute– to help people build better software, faster.

Regardless of when.

¹ Gartner®, Predicts 2023: Composable Applications Accelerate Business Innovation, Yefim Natis, John Santoro, Jo Liversidge, Stephen White, Gregor Petri, Paul Vincent, Anne Thomas, 17 January 2023.
² Gartner: Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2023: Platform Engineering, Paul Delory, Oleksandr Matvitskyy, 17 October 2022.