We are delighted to unveil our new webinar series, titled "Low-code 101". Across the next few weeks, we will explore a number of different aspects of Low-code with a variety of our MATS Team members, answering some of your questions and giving tips and advice to people who are using or considering using Low-code.
Our first episode features one of our Solution Architects, Darren Hartley, who is looking at some areas that we are frequently asked about on the fundamental aspects of Low-code and what it can be used for.
You can watch the webinar here:
A transcript of the webinar is below:
Laura: Hello and welcome to this “Low-code 101” webinar. My name is Laura Ritchie and I’m a Marketing Communications Manager working on Low-code. Today I’m delighted to be joined by Darren Hartley, one of our Solution Architects. Hello Darren…
Darren: Hi Laura and hello to our audience…
Laura: Organisations of all sizes and types are turning to Low-code platforms to speed up the delivery of the software which is vital to their digital transformation. So, today, we’re going to give you an overview on Low-code and what it’s all about.
- We’ll start with some basic processes and apps
- We’ll show you some demos, which really bring it all to life
- We’ll talk about scalability and upgrades and where Low-code can take you in the future.
Like Low-code, this shouldn’t take long, we should be able to cover everything in about 15 minutes. Let’s get started with an explanation of Low-code, Darren, can you tell us what it is and what can you do with it?
Darren: In short, Low-code provides all the components you need to build, deploy and improve business systems without coding. This means that organisations can introduce improvements faster and without hogging their IT department’s resources. These improvements are almost always geared up to create a greater customer experience, but should deliver recognisable and measurable benefits. Plus, as a by-product, the cost and pain of dealing with the issues for the company and its staff, is also reduced. It’s win-win-win really.
Laura: Those are really powerful advantages to a business. You mentioned that you don’t need to know coding to be able to use Low-code, how easy is it and who uses it?
Darren: Well, take me as an example. I worked in an IT company before Netcall as a support desk technician. I solved customer queries and did some basic web development, a little html, a bit of css and a few other things. Nothing really complex or skilful that you would associate to a typical developer role.
I did two days training on MATS, then worked as a platform developer for 10 months and was able to build, as part of a team, a number of complex business applications for a variety of customers. It’s a very intuitive piece of technology that is really easy to get to grips with.
Basically, anyone with a grounding in IT can learn our Low-code. So a Project manager or a business analyst with some experience of IT processes could be a good candidate, though it doesn’t exclude developers trained in one language or another turning their skill set to low code as well.
This doesn’t mean, however, that developers aren’t needed, far from it. The MATS platform has a code studio section, which allows the platform to be extended outside of the rich feature set it already includes.
Laura: Your role now is essentially ensuring the successful delivery of our software and working closely with our integration teams, so you’re often involved in quickly spinning up sales demos to show the capabilities that Low-code can offer. Can you walk us through a few basic processes?
Darren: Adding a process in MATS is just like adding a Visio diagram or a similar tool. We use standard BPMN, and you just drag in the correct icon for that section of the process. So, for the start of the process, a start point, then stages or decisions as we progress through the process we are building.
The main thing to note is that this process is the steps your users would actually go through to complete the tasks you want them to do. So, if it’s a helpdesk issue, we need a stage for someone to review the logged issue, a decision whether the information is sufficient and an outcome a user can select.
However, we can also automate some of the process as we go. An example of this is triggering an automated email to the customer who logged the issue, rather than adding a process step to do it.
This means our process transforms from a guidance of what to do, to a living entity, triggering outcomes such as communication, escalation or anything else the business requires as part of delivering this task.
Laura: That looks great Darren. How would our customers actually use this to create apps for themselves?
Darren: The process is really only the start of building an application. Low-code allows you to create objects to store data in your application, for example issue details, customer details, attachments etc. Then, these can all be related together, such as one issue might have many attachments. So the customer builds their process and the data they need to capture at the same time.
Once that starts coming together, the customer can start building an interface to interact with that process and data, using easy drag and drop widgets that give specific functionality to the pages, such as forms, lists, charts, maps and many others. This quickly allows you to build a rich and accessible interface for their users.
Then, it’s just a case of expanding on all of this, adding in the business logic the application needs to follow using the rules engine in MATS to trigger the communications, escalations and other logic the customer wants to include.
And all of this can be done quickly, so you can rapidly prototype the application and review it with the stakeholders, those invested in the application you are building, so you can gain feedback and incorporate it into the next version of the application.
Laura: You can try MATS for free in our Community, which gives you the option to share apps. This means that people can often find what they’re looking for, without building it from scratch themselves. Can you show us how the app share works?
Darren: Our community is free. To register, just head to community.Matssoft.com. We want as many of our customers as possible to access our community, which gives guidance on building, training and allows our customers to share ideas with other MATS users.
In the community site, you can visit our app share section, which contains plenty of applications to start you off. The community site also contains plugins, code snippets and other useful tools to be used with MATS. You can download full applications or an application which is just the core framework, a template as such. You download these to your MATS instance.
All you need to do is deploy the snapshot of the application and follow the instructions to set it up, which are included with the download and on the community site. This deploys a full configuration of MATS, with all the forms, processes, business logic that this application needs, a minimum viable product if you will.
Now, this might be only the core functionality, so for example a visitor’s application from our app share only has the signing in section and some simple forms and basic logic for a guest to sign in when visiting your office or other locations in your company.
For example, if it is one of the Low-code for Local Gov accelerators we have on our app share, created for local government, it’s a complex application with weeks of development invested to make a full robust application that would meet a large amount of local government procedures and requirements.
However, we know that in any organisation, public or private sector, how they do something isn’t necessarily how someone else in the same market does it. So, these applications can then be customised by the customer using the tools in our Low-code platform to meet their exact requirements. No more having to ‘fit’ your processes around an off the shelf solution. Just take the application from the app share and adjust it to meet your needs.
Laura: It seems really simple to deploy these apps and customise them for your exact purposes. How scalable is Low-code as a solution for a large organisation?
Darren: Low-code is definitely scalable for any business. You can start with a single application to fix an issue or replace some legacy application / process and do it quickly, again getting that minimum viable product in place to solve the big issue. The organisation can then rapidly improve on that application, with a version 2, version 3 and so on. But they can also tackle the next problem and the next.
Because Low-code doesn’t need a fully-fledged traditional developer to learn and maintain, you can quickly scale the Low-code team in your organisation with individuals that are familiar with software development processes (your product owners, business analysts) so they can take on more and more applications and scale the team easily.
Laura: How is Low-code licensed Darren?
Darren: We offer different scales of licencing depending on what the customer needs, but it’s pretty simple. We have an entry level banding which includes just one application, a professional banding, which is up to three applications built in low code, right through to Enterprise banding, which is as many applications as an organisation needs. For each banding, there is a price per user per month, which decreases per user the more users that you licence.
Laura: Ok, great. Is Low-code hosted on a server or in the cloud?
Darren: Our Low-code platform is cloud based. Our preferred cloud hosting is Amazon Web Services, AWS, as this is very flexible and allows us to offer regional hosting, so you can hold the application in the UK in their London region, or across the world in other data regions if you wish. We also have our own datacentres in the UK, so if the customer prefers, we can host it for you, providing a private cloud option.
Laura: Low-code seems to give almost endless possibilities and it’s clear to see the impact that it can make quite quickly to business processes. Once customers are onboard with Low-code, what would they need to think about for the future – are there upgrades and new versions on the horizon?
Darren: We are constantly adding to our platform and typically have two releases a year with new features and functionality, with our roadmap planned at least three releases in advance. We also do everything we can to include our customers in the development of the road map and drive a lot of features from customer requests.
Our customers needs are key, so we try to ensure we meet their requests where we can. Upgrades to the core platform code are included in the licencing costs, so once you are onboard, you can update to the latest release once they become available and the functionality it provides.
Laura: Thanks for that Darren, it’s been really useful! Hopefully that has covered all your starter questions on Low-code, we hope you’ve found it useful. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and of course you can always go to matssoft.com for further information. So from myself and Darren…. Goodbye!
Our next episode of “Low-code 101” will put security into the spotlight, and this will be available in the next few weeks.