How Low Can You Go? With Code, That Is! With Rich Waldron And Sílvia Rocha
From low code to pro code, the enterprise software landscape continues to expand and evolve in a remarkable fashion. Automation is the rule of the day, and when done properly, gives companies the ability to adjust key business processes without having to call IT, or bring in consultants.
Learn more on this episode of DM Radio as host Eric Kavanagh interviews Rich Waldron of Tray.io, and Sílvia Rocha of OutSystems.
[00:00:41] Eric: Our guests are driving back from KubeCon, which was pretty exciting. There are very interesting vendors there. If you’re not familiar with KubeCon, it’s the big Kubernetes show. Kubernetes came out of Google, a real master stroke by those folks that came up with a way to own the defacto operating system of the cloud. There’s a whole ecosystem that’s built up around Kubernetes. It’s quite remarkable. It’s one of the fastest I’ve ever seen an ecosystem grow up and mature. It’s quite fascinating. We talked to lots of folks over there. It does represent the foundation for the next generation of enterprise applications.
That’s a perfect segue for our topic in this episode. How low can you go with code? That is, we’re going to talk about low-code. I love this one expression I heard from a guy that said, “Low-code to pro-code.” I thought that was interesting. A lot of times, these low-code platforms will give you the capacity to include your own code. You don’t have to just use the low-code environment. You can insert your code in. That’s good. One of the cool things about the low-code movement is we’ve come a long way to where businesses can deploy powerful apps quickly, and the systems will handle all the plumbing for you.
I bet you there are a lot of plumbers who will tell you plumbing is not fun. They do it for a living. You can make money doing it, but the actual plumbing itself is not the funnest part of a job. Engineers like to solve problems, so that can be an interesting part of their workday is figuring out how to get something done. Plumbing itself typically is not the favorite thing for folks to do, and it enables you to get something done.
If you can handle that automatically, why wouldn’t you handle that automatically? Our experts are going to tell us a bit about that. We’ve got Rich Waldron of Tray.io and Sílvia Rocha, who is joining us from a company called OutSystems. First, let’s get opening statements from both of you. Rich, I’ll throw it over to you. First, tell us a bit about yourself and what you folks are working on at Tray.io.
[00:02:45] Rich: Thank you, Eric. It’s great to be here. It’s a privilege to represent Tray. For those that don’t know, Tray is bringing low-code automation to businesses so that they can sort out their inefficiencies, the pipelines that they’re trying to create, the tools that they’re trying to connect, and ultimately deal with the unintended consequences that have come from this sharp digital transformation movement that we’ve all seen. The way in which Tray works is that it provides a low-code visual studio that allows you to connect any service database data point that you wish and bring those different implementations together so that you can automate processes in real-time. That works across the org all the way from the IT team through to marketing, sales, success, and finance. If you can name it, we can find a way to integrate it.
[00:03:35] Eric: I like that. Let’s get an opening statement from Sílvia Rocha of OutSystems. Tell us about what you folks are doing and how it enables the whole world of low-code no-code.
[00:03:45] Sílvia: Hello, Eric and Rich. Thank you very much for having me here. I come to you from OutSystems. This is a company that was set up many years ago with a completely disruptive vision to change the way that enterprise software is built and delivered. Our mission is to enable our customers to innovate through software and also disrupt their own industries by getting that competitive edge. Essentially, we seek to address three main challenges. The first one is a talent shortage. It’s pretty obvious that learning has become more acute in the last couple of years. Nowadays, any company out there, regardless of their industry, has become in some way a software development country company as well.
There’s not a sufficient number of developers in the industry for those companies to thrive. Second, leads have to do with application development complexity. There’s a lot that we do under the hood with our platform to enable developers to essentially focus on the number one reason why they became developers, which was to build intellectual property to add value to their businesses and don’t deal with toil or repetitive work and all of that. The lack of time is also something that we’re basically trying to address overall to give the companies the ability to hit time to markets that are aggressive enough for their own goals, especially in the face of economic uncertainty that has become even more and more pressing.
[00:05:05] Eric: I’d love to dive right into some of the meatiest angles that we discussed in the pre-show, Sílvia, which is the artificial intelligence you have onto the hood, which is scanning the code as developers write. It’s my understanding over time, as you collect data on the performance of code in various environments, you can get a baseline for what works well, what works not so well, and start to understand how certain dependencies will impact performance, but also application architectures.
If you’ve got some AI under the hood that’s scanning for that, that’s a very useful thing for developers because if you get an early warning sign that something isn’t going to work very well, that saves a lot of time and frustration. I’m a big believer that morale is the most important component of any company, quite frankly. When morale is high, good stuff happens. When morale is low, bad stuff happens. I find that particular angle fascinating. Can you tell our audience a bit about how that works and how you’re able to do that?
[00:06:05] Sílvia: In our decades, we have collected a number of patterns from our install base of customers and delivery partners. We have a visual development tool by which your functionality gets built. We also have pre-built UI components for developers to use out of the box. Essentially, you can focus a lot on the business logic on drag and drop, which is the key operation that we have here. Through the collection of information from various customers, we have identified what we call good patterns and bad patterns because we give a lot of power back to the developer. In no way are we limiting what they can do. You can do good things in good ways, but you can also do things that are anti-patterns in the software development world.
To the delight of what is our visual language and model of our applications, looking into all that historical data, as the developers are building their applications and composing their applications, we can already guess probably what they want to build. On the fly, we propose to the developer, “What is the next thing you should be doing?” We also highlight potential problems of dependencies of how this may impact their applications in what we call our true change engine when they’re publishing the application. We see AI as a coach for the developer that is always there and also, at the end of the day, ensures that you can do this health check at scale.AI is a coach for the developer that is always there and ensures that you can do this health check at scale. Click To Tweet
We have, as part of our platform, what we call the trusted advisor, which is a probe that is in the customer system and is looking into all these codes, looking into our libraries of good patterns, and is identifying and surfacing to the tech lead of your team or the factory manager as well as the engineers, “Here’s your report. You have these many modules. These modules here may require some attention. Potentially, you see here some bad pattern in regards to performance or reusability.” We are a platform that is very heavy on component reusability. We use a services center architecture for our applications, and that gives us a lot of elasticity in what you can do.
[00:08:19] Eric: That’s very interesting. I’m going to guess here because I haven’t taken a briefing from these from OutSystems. If you look at what Google is doing now with natural language processing and also aiding the writing of the text, if you’re in Gmail, for example, you’ll be typing, and Gmail will guess, “Did you want to use to finish the sentence this way, that way, etc.?” It’s a very interesting development here. Is that the same functionality you see in the code like, “You did this, and you’re probably going to do this next?” Is that the same thing?
[00:08:50] Sílvia: That’s a very similar paradigm, definitely. As the developer is pulling in the various icons to build the visual programming of his module, we are guessing, “Isn’t this what you want next?” We’re proposing the next action.
[00:09:03] Eric: This is what I love. The future of AI is going to be suggestive. What I mean by that is the best use of artificial intelligence is not to just let it take over and run things for you but allow it to make suggestions to the user who’s controlling the system. The better the suggestions are, the better the model gets trained, and the better it works for you over time. It’s quite a remarkable virtuous circle if you do it right.
[00:09:29] Sílvia: Exactly. Because we already have so many customers and customers with many years of history with us, where we have amazing longevity with those customers, we have indeed collected a significant number of patterns that make this powerful. As you said, it’s a virtual cycle, so it keeps learning and learning.
[00:09:48] Eric: That’s very cool. Let’s bring Rich back in from Tray. Tray.io is an automation platform. I’m guessing that you heard some of what Sílvia was saying there. I’m guessing you agree in principle with those practices. What are your thoughts?
[00:10:03] Rich: The perspective that we hold is that not only is there a talents shortage on the developer front, but if you think about all of the software that you’ve ever bought in your life or you’ve ever worked with in any organization, the bits that you are paying for are only available to developers. The stuff that you can get to through the API is where you get the most powerful functionality. That’s restricted to people that know how to write code. Our perspective and the reason we started the company was that we wanted to find a way to unlock and untap that resource for everybody else. Where we bring our technology to the floor is that we enable line of business teams to do things they never could before.
Using your plumber analogy, we’re turning them into the Super Mario Brothers. They have the capability to take advantage of the API to connect the different services that they utilize every day. They understand the business problem already. By the time that IT or an engineer needs to get involved because perhaps this is being hosted externally, they can use our own API or tooling to access what’s been built to take advantage of it programmatically. That is the modern approach to how to solve for these problems within an organization that has adopted cloud technology.
[00:11:20] Eric: If you do this right, what you’re doing is you’re baking in best practices to the platform that the developers or the business use. What’s so cool these days is that we can track everything. It used to be that we had log files and could track a few things, but storage was expensive and got pretty complicated. We didn’t do too much of it. You did some capturing of log files and so forth for troubleshooting. Nowadays, you can capture every last little detail of all some people called exhaust data from these systems. In all that data, when you correlate it and look across environments like Sílvia was talking about earlier, you can learn tremendous amounts about the performance of this app on Android, laptop, PC, or whatever. When you have that foundation to work from, you can do some cool stuff these days.
[00:12:16] Rich: That volume piece is not to be misinterpreted. Not only do you have more data than you’ve ever been able to get ahold of, but more and more of it is being created than we’ve ever had before. That’s why from a legacy perspective, so many of these vendors that were big in their heyday are now toast because they have to deal with the throughput of data that they’ve never had before. How are they going to scale up and scale down to be able to handle what’s come before it? If you think about what the most valuable attribute of any business is, the thing that separates you from your competition is your process. Why is this the best data radio show in the world? It’s clearly you, Eric, but separate from that, it is the processes that have allowed you to stand this thing up on the road now.
That process is the bit that’s most valuable. When you automate it, make it cemented into your organization, and build a tool that allows you to interact with it visually, you’re taking something IP to yourself and scaling it. Some of the best organizations in the world are the blueprint for that. Why is Amazon the leading retailer? How did they turn up their heels on competition that was far ahead of them? They baked in the process. They built it end to end. They made it proprietary. That’s what automation is unlocking, and low-code is unlocking for these organizations.
[00:13:32] Eric: That’s a good point. Sílvia, I’ll bring you back in. What excites me about what both of your companies are doing here is I’m a businessman. I know when I see an opportunity, I need to change something, and there’s going to be some functionality and system I use to do that. The faster I can go from idea to execution, the better off we’re going to be. Even if you try things and they fail, at least you tried them, and you know now that they failed. With this whole componentized approach that you take in low-code without systems to build these apps, you’re fast-tracking new developments and ideas at your client’s organizations.
[00:14:12] Sílvia: Vast majority of our customers will go from ideation to valuing the end user’s hands in a matter of a few months. To aid and contribute to that, being a reality has to do a lot with the fact that we’re a visual development platform. You can make code a little bit more readable for your business users in a way that then you can engage in a lot more. You can have side-to-side conversations directly from the developer with the business user. You can even have a more educated business user that has some background required to operate these types of platforms. They can also as well themselves burn through the backlog of things they want to get done that IT never has the time for them to address.
This is a solution to stop shadowing IT once and for all and get things done right as a way to free IT to focus on the heavy lifting, which Rich was also referring to. This component of being very visual is something that helps a lot with the agility of these teams because they engage with their businesses very fast, turning around ideas into prototypes quickly, things that are usable, triable, and quickly shareable with end users. We have functionalities in the mobile app where you share with end users as quickly as it gets in a number of clicks, so you’re actually seeing something and trying out something and sending you the feedback. This feedback loop for developers where their end users are drastically compressed because of the capabilities we’ve built.
[00:15:49] Eric: That is such an important point right there, the feedback loop. It’s real-time or near real-time, essentially. That optimizes the workflow. It optimizes the productivity of the developers, too, and gets the business people what they want faster. It’s a classic win-win if you go across the line there. It’s a win for the developers, the business, the company, and the customers because they’re getting what they need. We’ll pick this up in the next segment.
The comment that Sílvia made about IT not having time to do things, there will always be an infinite number of things that an IT team can do. There’s always an infinite number of things that the business can do, but what are the most productive things that we can be doing? That’s the real key. What are the most productive things that we can be doing? How can we stay on track and know that we’re getting in that direction? That’s what we’ll talk about in the next segment.
I’m with Sílvia Rocha from OutSystems and Rich Waldron from Tray.io. We’re talking all about low-code no-code and changing business. I talked about the Kubernetes Conference KubeCon in Detroit that we just came from and how Kubernetes is this new foundation upon which you could build amazingly scalable robust applications and the break there. At the end of the last segment, we were chatting about how the collaborative nature of some of these new technologies, like Google Docs, for example, is seriously game-changing. Sílvia, I’ll throw it back over to you to comment on, “No one likes to waste their time.”
I think about what are the reasons why morale goes down in companies. One of them is that you have friction points where things aren’t working properly. When that friction doesn’t get solved where if you don’t address the friction points, that leads to frustration. Frustration leads to low morale, and low morale leads to bad things, including companies going away. With your system with OutSystems, it seems to me that you’re able to facilitate this business development relationship. It’s not just DevOps, where you have coders talking to operations people. Because it’s a low-code no-code environment, you’re working with people who are very good at building workflows. That is a real nice fast track to productivity to getting things done. When people get things done and stuff works, that’s great for morale.
[00:20:05] Sílvia: Every year at OutSystems, we conduct a developer report where we send a survey to several hundreds of developers and companies across the world, and we just got hours in. It is very interesting to start realizing and having clearly the notion that local developers have time back because of building on top of the power of what such type of platforms can do for them in terms of acceleration of most common and repetitive tasks in terms of they don’t have to deal with the cognitive load even to choose the variety of technologies that we have available nowadays. A lot goes packed into these platforms.
They don’t necessarily have to become experts in all technologies for the back-end, the cloud, the front-end, workflows, or whatever. The platform takes care of that for them and encapsulates a number of modern technologies. They keep getting updated, and in the case of OutSystems, security compliance as well. We have all the standards that you can imagine, like SOC 2, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, and a number of ISOs. We’re fully compliant and certified in those. There’s a lot that gets built into a platform with years of evolution throughout the years. Developers have that within reach out of the box.
Not only they’re able to engage faster with their business users. They get promoted more frequently in their own companies because they become a lot more productive and are more able to have regular working hours throughout their week. Sixty-three percent of our local developers say they are happier with the salary well. They’re high-code developers. We do not say low-code and pro-code because a huge number of local developers are also high-code developers as well.
This is another tool in their superhero kit that they can leverage to do their work. This is how we see it. With OutSystems, you build all applications where our positioning towards the market is one of high-performance low-code, where you build mission critical applications that scale to millions of end users securely. It’s not like these developers. They have to understand the technology and understand to take the maximum benefit. They can start small, but they will never hit a wall.
[00:22:25] Eric: That’s a good point there when you talked about how a lot of the plumbing is taken care of. There are always going to be developers who want to have fine-grain access to the code, be able to change things, and do things. To a certain extent, I think about the Macintosh versus the PC. Mac came along and said, “Maybe we shouldn’t give so much access to the user about fine grain settings to change in the computer because they just want stuff to work. We’ll get it robust. We’ll get it to work cleanly. You don’t have to worry about so much stuff under the covers.” There are real serious professionals who want to do that stuff, but for most people, you don’t. If you don’t have to worry about that, you can worry about achieving business outcomes. That’s what you want anyway.
[00:23:13] Sílvia: At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to make your company win or lose the game they’re playing. These local developers are more frequently promoted because they help the company accelerate and achieve the time to market that they need to deliver on their business goals. You focus on the outcome, and we’ll focus on the plumbing. We’ll focus on keeping your apps secure and scalable. We’ll focus on updating the technological stack that’s under the hood that’s generating all these applications for you. You just focus on delivering major business outcomes so that you can become a superhero in your own company.
[00:23:50] Eric: I love it. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? Let’s bring Rich back into the conversation. As I talk to you folks, I think about the evolution of application development and design. Let’s face it. Things have changed so much in the last few years even. When I think about mobile development, mobile revolutionized application development because, first of all, you have a tiny little screen that you have to fit everything into.
You had to decompose workflows and processes and recognize that you don’t want to offer 800 options at any given time. You only want to offer the user whatever options make sense at this moment. That, to me, led to a real revolution in how we design UIs and application workflows. That is now porting over to traditional corporate enterprise applications. You look at them. Even though the laptop screen is a lot bigger than it is on an iPhone or an Android, I see how the mobile paradigm of application development took over and is being applied to enterprise systems. Rich, what do you think about that?
[00:24:55] Rich: The main takeaway from what you said is that it simplified the critical data for the user that was most important. Riffing off some of the points that Sílvia made on the fidelity of low-code, the show itself is called How Low Can Low-Code Go. We more often than not see systems that make it easy to connect service A to service B, but the simplicity of making that initial connection, and using your Macintosh and PC analogy, becomes the technical ceiling for what you can go and create. We think of this world in two ways. You’ve got the people that are the creators. They’re the builders. They’re the people that will go in and construct these workflows. They’re creating mission-critical systems that work across their most important data points.
To give you some examples there, we work with major healthcare providers and move patient data around. They’re building automation between different tools that help speed up the periods at which people get operated on all the way through to major IT providers. The largest in the world uses us for the back-end of all of their marketing automation. Any lead that goes through any asset on any of their machines or campaigns is processed through Tray workflows. The beneficiaries of those are the people that are everyday workers. They’re the ones that now have the right data in the right place at the right time. They’re not doing manual labor anymore. They’re not manually having to go and interrupt or work with the different systems they’re used to.
It streamlined those applications and delivered the thing that was most important to them. To use your mobile analogy, they’re the people that are at the end of that mobile screen that is the output or the beneficiary of the automation. You’ve got these builders. To use Sílvia’s point, if you want to get ahead in your career, go and figure out how to be the person who brings automation. That’s the ROI that you can get from being somebody that achieves business results by weaving together different business systems. I don’t think there is a clearer way you could go to your boss and demonstrate value. We see that time and time again.
[00:26:58] Eric: That’s a good point. Sílvia, I’ll throw this one over to you. For years, we talked about the IT divide, where when the business people wanted to do something, they had to go to IT, the data-centered people. It was usually a bit of a rough go. They’re doing whatever the business needs. Adding something new was always like, “I don’t know, guys. We got enough to do already.” DevOps started this renaissance, and now low-code, especially with the approach that you both are taking, is dissolving that divide. Especially if you have this visual metaphor for building these applications, now the business people can understand.
We don’t care what’s under the hood. It doesn’t matter. That’s going to be handled for you. I even think to myself about cars and how cars have evolved so much of the under-the-hood technology. You don’t have to know anymore. Even as a mechanic, they plug a little device in there, and it gets all the readings from the computer that tells them what’s going on. You don’t have to guess, “Maybe it’s the carburetor. Maybe it’s this or that.” When all those problems are solved, the relationship between the business person and the low-code developer is very compelling and powerful.
[00:28:11] Sílvia: It’s been taken to a level that has never been before. The tensions because of the volumes of backlog that typically any IT department will have anywhere in the world are always massive. It keeps growing. There’s no way to chew through that backlog fast enough. That leaves the lines of businesses feeling that, “I’m not delivering for my business because IT is the laggard here. IT is the number one reason why this company does not go forward because my business processes are waiting for them to do something about that for a very long time.” I’m a huge proponent that local platform will, and it has been doing that across the world in the various customers that we have, which is about 22 industries as well to reach this point, like healthcare, banking, insurance, retail, or whatever the game.
It is very much real nowadays. There’s a much better healthy partnership and cooperation. The feedback loop between these two departments is the lines are completely blurry. We have local developers almost doing pair programming with business users because they have business insights. They can collaborate with the local developer in what he’s doing because it’s much more attainable within reach by the fact that we’re using very visual components to the building of the applications. To your point earlier, Eric, where you mentioned mobile, think about the variety of devices that we have across the world and how many different devices and operating systems you have to support when you’re doing a mobile app or a field services app that goes in an iPad. It’s usually something like that.
That’s something that, with a local platform, you get out of the box. There are delightful experiences. We talked earlier about the best practices of coding. We also have best practices of UI experiences that we offer our customers. It’s not like they have to reinvent everything from the ground up or educate themselves into understanding, “Will this work in an iPhone? Will this work in an Android? Will this work in iOS version X, Y, Z?”
The platform takes care of that nowadays. In the event of mobile, what it brought is it made every single user a lot more demanding. Everybody’s a consumer of technology. With the tools that you use internally in your own departments in your company, you also want them to be delightful and frictionless. You want them to work flawlessly and deliver on the goals that they expect to without much hassle. The number of best practices in regards to the UI and the experience is that we also encapsulate and offer there. You’re just label-playing with your business user along with you. It’s brilliant.
[00:31:02] Eric: That’s a very good point too. It fundamentally changes the requirements-gathering process. In the old days of IT, what you had to do was sit down and have this big meeting with the business people. “What are your requirements?” They think they know what it is. They list a few things, but they always forget stuff. You always forget things at the moment. If you can sit down at the table and visually move through an environment and have the low-code developer explain to you what this part does and what that part does, that requirements-gathering process is more of a conversation than it is a one-way street than a one-way street the other way. What do you think, Sílvia?
[00:31:42] Sílvia: If you got a requirement wrong, going back on a decision is extremely faster and much less costly as well. With the OutSystems platform, you also build mission-critical applications. We completely re-digitize enterprises out there. We also have projects where the requirement phase is important. It takes its time. The thing is that it becomes a lot more iterative. The ability to bootstrap something to make it real and more concrete as opposed to, very early on, spending weeks or months closed and cooped up in meetings to figure out requirements is something of the old.
[00:32:23] Eric: In that old way, if you got it wrong, folks, the price to pay was very significant. It’s the price of having spent a lot of time and effort to get nothing. If you want to talk about destroying morale, have your teams work for 3 to 6 months on something and kill the project. That’s the number one way to make developers and the business unhappy. What happens is the consumers, whether they’re clients or customers, whatever the case may be, they’re unhappy. That’s when the business goes away, and things go south. That can happen very quickly these days, in part because of the technologies we’re talking about.
Rich made an interesting point about the scale and how there are lots of new low-code vendors out there. He made a comment like, “No-code is useless.” You always want a little bit of code. You want to be able to do a little bit of tweaking to things. He talked about how the scale is the hard part. When you throw massive amounts of data at some of these systems, they melt. They just fall apart. I always come up with analogies.No code is almost useless. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen it, for example, on an older computer, where I would accidentally click on the photos icon from within an application. I was like, “I clicked that button.” It’s going to take now 3 to 4 minutes as it chokes on the amount of data to pull into the fire hose because that’s an architectural problem. It is an example of what can happen when you overload a system and crash it. You have to be very careful about what’s behind the scenes and if you can handle the scale.
[00:35:34] Rich: That point on low-code no-code and everything in between, for me, a big part of that is almost mentality. The difference between writing a no-code system or no-code at all and low-code is often in the complexity of your componentry and also what you’re trying to do. To give you an example, you want to connect service A to service B. In a no-code realm, that’s relatively easy. You’re moving data from one place to another. Let’s say you’re trying to do something useful with that. You probably need to loop through all the data points within one of those systems. You need to store them somewhere. You need to find a piece that is interesting. You need to pattern match that against the other bit that was interesting and output that somewhere.
That’s low-code. That’s where you are taking the concepts of programming and making them available to an entirely new user base. For us, it’s about empowering that business user to have the capability to go and do that. When you go beyond that and get into it, what happens when you connect up these systems that have got the 50,000 photos that you used in your example that need to get transacted somewhere else? One of the challenges that can come with the space is it’s relatively easy to stand up the application that has the UI that allows you to do the low-code componentry. How you handle what occurs on the back-end is a completely different ball game.
From Tray’s perspective, we are built to handle elastically whatever you chuck at us. If one of those services fails, we’ll queue up every single transaction. We’ll allow you to replay the data. Our mission here is that if you are going to rely on us to move the most important data in your business around, we need resilience. We need to scale. We need to be able to handle what comes of that. If you want to sell to big companies and support real data challenges, your innovations are going to have to be in architecture because if not, you’re going to find out pretty quickly when your system gets smoked.If you want to sell to big companies or support real data challenges, your innovations will have to be in architecture because if not, you'll find out pretty quickly when your system gets smoked. Click To Tweet
[00:37:26] Eric: The system getting smoked is no fun at all. I often wonder when I’m talking on the phone with a customer service center. I’ll throw this over to you, Sílvia. You always hear this line, “Our systems are running slow today.” It’s like, “Is it the network? Is it the application? Is it the data?” If you’re in the industry, it could be any one of these things. Regardless, the bottom line is bad customer experience. Bad customer experience in the modern world is a very bad thing. What do you think, Sílvia?
[00:37:55] Sílvia: Absolutely. It’s just there’s no room to fail in regard to customer experience. That’s a major show-stopper. A big differentiator between the various no-code low-code solutions and even within the low-code space has precisely to do with that with the load that the system can take, the load that your applications can scale up to, and how well they scale up. Is it fluid? Is it frictionless as well? That’s a big line that separates everyone else from the pack. It’s very interesting to see a big variety of customers. Many times, we’ll start with more departmental internal applications, then they start getting a bit of the intellectual property of their core systems in, and then they suddenly realize that, “I can build a digital customer omnichannel experience for my end users and scale this up.”
We have, for instance, one of the largest telecommunication groups in Europe. They have about five million end-user visits on their mobile apps that they’ve built without systems. They plan to, “How can we grow this even further?” To your point earlier, Eric, in the show where you were talking about the demand for the quality of this experience, consumers these days don’t have the patience to wait for anything else than pixel-perfect and delightful. It’s all about integrating the customer experience through the various channels with whom they contact the company, be it a clerk at a desk, their mobile app, or their website. You might work on your iPad as well because I’m suddenly on the sofa. I want to see how I can do this as well. It happens even on the go. You need to support the richness of those customer experiences across the multiple devices and channels the customer will integrate with you.
[00:39:48] Eric: You bring up a good point here. I’ll throw it back over to you, Sílvia, and quickly to Rich. You talked about being able to work on your iPad. You were on your laptop or maybe on your phone. One of the challenges is that these are different devices and form factors. They have different architectures and performances around certain processes. You want to be able to offer the same functionality on the iPad as you have on the laptop. I’ve seen many times there will be different things that aren’t available, like on Zoom. If you’re on Zoom on your phone, it’s different than Zoom on a laptop. You’re like, “How do I do this?” Maybe you can’t even do that. If you use one of these low-code platforms, that’s a good way to solve that particular challenge of designing the app and have it dynamically work across these environments.
You can extend what the platform is giving you with high-code if you want it to make a difference and make sure that the look and feel of the applications that your customer uses in-house and the design system of that customer are completely, fully catered. It’s not like it’s the same experience for all customers across the board. What you start from the get-go is with a library of highly researched and proven amazing patterns that will turn your back-end developer into a very solid front-end engineer as well if they want to.
[00:41:43] Eric: That’s another interesting point. I’ll throw it over to Rich to comment on. There’s a reason why, historically, we’ve had developers either focus on the front-end or the back-end. As these technologies, and especially these low-code platforms mature, that line starts to blur significantly. That’s good news. There’s also this thing the full stack developer, which is getting harder and harder to be, frankly, because the stack is a lot taller than it used to be and a lot more complex. It’s going to be pretty rare that you’ve got someone smart and knowledgeable enough with enough time on their hands to learn all these things. The low-code no-code is helping in a lot of different ways.
[00:42:21] Rich: The most interesting perspective or at least the piece that I feel is the most important is that the best automation is invisible. If you think about our job, we abstract away all the back-end headaches and the scaling machine headaches that come with running and building a scalable automation solution. We’re putting the front-end piece in the hand of our customers. Here’s the reason that I say that it’s invisible. To use your call center example earlier, we have a marquee customer, one of the biggest contact call center providers in the world. They’re ahead of the game. They use Tray to orchestrate it so that the moment that you call in and the call connects, that triggers a workflow that looks up a series of services internally that goes and pulls all of the external data required to support you best by the time that you get on the phone.
You avoid that lag of, “I’m pulling up your record. I’m getting the data.” That’s already happened. That’s a great example of somebody in the business unit team that isn’t necessarily a developer by trade who has built a workflow that has changed the way in which they run their business. It works across every device and service because it’s invisible. It’s utilizing the systems that already exist and the data that’s already in place. When you bring all that together, you have a way in which when they go out and sell their solution to another major provider that has a lot of calls coming in, what a great pitch. What a great way to go with the business.
[00:43:49] Eric: That’s such an excellent point. I wish more companies would do that. It would be much easier to call a call center if everyone did that. We’ve been talking to two awesome guests from Tray.io and OutSystems. It’s time for the bonus segment. What a wonderful conversation we’ve had with Sílvia Rocha from OutSystems and Rich Waldron from Tray.io, all about low-code no-code, and changing business for the better. That call center conversation we had, I love that. It’s a difficult job working at a call center. You got a lot of people calling in unhappy. That’s not uncommon. I don’t know what the percentage is. I’m sure call center people do.
If that call center person has a lot of information at their fingertips, that call is going to go a lot better than if they don’t. I want to close with the job offerings and advice you all have for people. A lot is changing. Digital transformation is changing. Organizational hierarchies are changing dramatically, like when you used to have different teams. Now that the blinds are blurring, all things are changing. I’ll throw it over first to Sílvia Rocha from OutSystems. What’s your advice to someone who’s looking for a new job or gig or maybe wants to get into this industry? What’s the advice you can give to them to get off on the right foot?
[00:45:07] Sílvia: That’s a great question, Eric. We talked earlier about local developers, where we have a lot of them that are professional developers, and the local platform is just another tool in their tool set. We also have developers that did not start off as such. They have been converted to become local developers. The range of profiles that can benefit from these solutions and find potentially completely new careers change their lives entirely from what they’ve been doing and what they studied probably into something completely new and help shape society and how society works these days.
IT is more bubbling than ever before. There are a lot of amazing opportunities. If you want to do that right with a good quality of life, local definitely is the way to go for you. One thing that you need to have is a lot of curiosity, appetite to help businesses thrive, a lot of focus on the actual outcomes that will move the needle for the company that you’re working for, and how you can become a major enabler for the business as opposed to a naysayer. I would recommend more soft skills other than hard skills because hard skills are within reach for anyone that has a good enough brain that it’s not hard.
[00:46:39] Eric: Those were such excellent points. What a great way to put it to help shape the world around you. One of my favorite quotes is the tagline for our TV show that’s called Future Proof. The quote is from William Gibson, who said, “The future is here already. It’s just not evenly distributed.” When I first heard that, I got chills thinking about it as I said it now because it’s so true that it’s so interesting. You see these pockets of innovation. You see pockets, whether cultural, technological, linguistic or whatever the case may be. You see that happening. They’re close to the centers of activity.
Anyone can be close to the center of activity through the web or Zoom. Wherever you are, you can hop on the train. I love your comment about being positive. I try to catch myself not to be too down on the naysayers because sometimes they’re like, “You shouldn’t do that because you’re going to run into this wall.” There’s something to be said for watching out for things. A positive attitude is the most powerful thing you can possibly have because it gets you through the hardest times. Real quick, Sílvia, what do you think?
[00:47:42] Sílvia: The cup is always half full. It’s that mentality, good collaboration and communication skills, and the ability to work well in a team with people with various backgrounds and priorities. That is of the essence for you to have a successful career in IT. The technological landscape is big. No one person or full stack developers that aren’t unicorns that can master everything in all that surface of beautiful technology that we have at hand. Low-code can give you a place in this world where you can be building applications that are, from an architectural and technological standpoint, top-notch. They’re completely innovative. You do not have to master that from the get-go at all. That’s why low-code is a very interesting space for people.
[00:48:35] Eric: That’s a great point. Rich from Tray.io, real quick, what’s your advice for folks looking to do something new? I love Sílvia’s advice.
[00:48:46] Rich: Sílvia makes a great point. The bit that stood out to me there was curiosity. That’s probably the most important attribute anybody can have. If we take the world right now, the economy is in the toilet. We’re at war all over the place. These are tough times for people. If you’re curious and ready to retrain, we see people doing coding boot camps or skilling up on understanding an API and embracing the things that will give them an edge when they’re going for an interview or a new role.
If you are that person who has that curious approach, whatever role you’re in, understand the world around you. Understand where the data moves. Understand which of the systems of the big players. Understand what it is going to take to be able to improve the velocity at which the roles around you are occurring. With that in mind, we see time and time again people go through our academy, which is Tray.io/academy, to learn the basic principles of low-code. We’ve seen people who have never written any code in their life go and build a powerful automation that becomes adopted by the whole organization. It is a place in which you can make a difference very quickly. It’s as exciting as when the spreadsheet first emerged. If everybody has computational skills, the world is going to be a much better place for it.
[00:50:03] Eric: I completely concur. Look these guys up online, Sílvia Rocha from OutSystems and Rich Waldron from Tray.io. If you like the show, send me an email at info@DMRadio.biz. We’ll talk next episode.
automation Code coding systems Data enterprise software low code