Mendix World 2014: Bringing IT and Business Minds Together

Mendix World 2014: Bringing IT and Business Minds Together by Mendix

Historically, IT has almost by definition driven a clash of cultures, especially with the business. At the Mendix World 2014 conference last week, more than 1,500 seasoned IT veterans, business executives, business analysts and developers came together to bridge IT and business rifts that have existed for decades.

Bringing these diverse worlds together is the Mendix App Platform that enables business users to design and build their own applications within an architectural framework that provides the structural integrity that IT needs to maintain and govern a rich portfolio of applications.

Most IT people would tell you that those are two very mutually exclusive concepts. Conventional wisdom holds that developers need to maintain control over all aspects of the application development process because otherwise applications will fail to scale.

At Mendix World 2014, IT professionals from around the globe gathered to discuss how application platforms such as Mendix are overcoming those challenges using visual modeling tools to transform the way applications are built.

For example, The Boston Globe, at a time when it is transferring all of its assets to a new owner, showed attendees how it is building multiple new applications without adding additional headcount.

LV= Insurance, meanwhile, showed how the insurance provider is now more agile than ever because of its ability to rapidly develop enterprise-class applications in support of new business initiatives.

Showing how applications developed on an application platform such as Mendix can scale, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) showed how the Mendix Platform breathed new life into a moribund business process re-engineering project that touches nearly every employee in the company.

Meanwhile, BAM Infratechniek, a manufacturer of cabling and pipeline systems, Touring Assuances, a provider of automotive insurance, and ‘De Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij’ (“NLE”), a Dutch energy company, all showed how Mendix how increased collaboration between end users and developers has fundamentally made their businesses more agile.

And finally, Dun & Bradstreet showed how the Mendix Platform is at the core of new services that are driving new revenue opportunities for one of the oldest providers of information services in the business.

What all these examples have in common is that they allow business analysts and power users, otherwise known as citizen developers, to leverage modeling tools to create an application in a way that eliminates the need to write low-level code. When building an application, all any business users have to be aware of is the relationship between the various process or data elements they are trying to connect. Once that is established, professional developers can focus their time on optimizing the backend architecture and performance of those applications.

The potential business impact of that approach is profound. Instead of waiting months, sometimes years, for these applications to be developed by professional developers, these organizations are now regularly putting new applications into production in a matter of days and weeks.

To further accentuate that point, Mendix even hosted a 24-hour Hackathon were it invited both professional IT service firms and students to develop applications for Terre des Homes, a children’s aid organization. The ability to quickly develop applications makes it clear that the long-promised time to the so-called citizen developer might finally be upon us because we can finally develop applications as a higher level of abstraction.

A key requirement going forward is finding ways to more clearly define the role of citizen developers and the professional developers that are responsible for the architectural integrity of the overall environment. Only then, notes Mendix co-founder and CEO Derek Roos, can every company reach its full potential by becoming a software company no matter what business they are in

“IT has become the primary force for driving change to the customer experience,” Roos told attendees. “But enterprise application delivery as we know it today is broken.”

The consensus arising from Mendix World 2014 is that only way to repair that IT rupture is for everyone to come together around a common platform that is designed from the ground up to allow everyone involved inside and out of the organization to contribute what they know best without regard to who actually owns the application at any given moment.

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