By Gustav Coleske – Mendix Consultant & Lead Scrum Master.
There are more and more companies who transform their business using digital transformation. There are the obvious ones that we are all aware of like Uber, but there are others that are less obvious. Some examples of other companies who have embraced new technology as part of their offering include:
John Deere CEO has been quoted as saying that 70% of their revenue will come from software and services, not from machines.
Their software is already providing various efficiencies and productivity improvements for farmers. An example of how John Deere is achieving this can be seen in the video below:
We can already see the same trend in the automotive industry where users can interact with their vehicles like never before through software like Audi’s Connect, BMW’s ConnectedDrive, Mercedes’ mbrace®, Tesla’s app and others.
Leaders in the toy industry now allow toys to come alive through the use of a linked app. An example of this is Sphero with the Star Wars BB-8 toy, seen below:
Sphero took the technology driving the inner workings of an existing toy, the 2013 Orbotix Sphero 2.0 and used it to design the Star Wars BB-8 toy. The technology evolved to include various features via an app. Another version of the toy, the Sphero SPRK(+) has an educational flavour with a clear shell so you can see the inner workings. It also has an educational app that teaches coding with a drag and drop interface.
Below is a demo of a Smart application built in Mendix that addresses certain technical issues causing delays for an airline. The application acts proactively with relevant users by monitoring engines in real-time and gets users get alerts when certain actions are due so that down-time of an aircraft is limited. The application was demoed at Mendix World 2016 uses Amazon Redshift for Data warehousing, Amazon IoT, IBM Watson among others to achieve something quite remarkable and was developed in a short timeframe (weeks rather than months):
Another example in the airline industry is KLM. With the help of Mendix, they built an IoT-enabled app that assisted in tracking critical service equipment for their planes at any moment in time. With the help of this app, mechanics spend less time looking for the equipment, releasing planes for use quicker after servicing in turn causing fewer delays for customers.
Mendix offer all the building blocks needed to help your company on your digital transformation journey and building smart apps. In order to achieve this, Mendix offers seamless integration with AWS IoT, Amazon Machine Learning, IBM Watson, Native device push notifications and others.
What are the challenges you face implementing Digital Transformation in your business? Is it fear of integrating into your existing systems?
Mendix offers various accelerators for integration for various solutions. It integrates easily with SAP and many others. It offers native support for SOAP and REST services. There are also various connectors on the Mendix app store that can smooth any bumps in the road. Some of the connectors in the Mendix app store include the database connector, SalesForce connector, Office 365 connector and UPS connector and many more.
With Mendix you can go one step further and build smart apps at speed with the built in connectors to AWS services (Redshift, IoT, Machine Learning), IBM Watson and native device push notifications.
Is it the fear of another massive IT investment or complex licensing?
Mendix offers a flexible licensing solution where you can start small and scale to an enterprise license.
(Image Source: https://www.mendix.com/blog/start-structure-scale-why-your-digital-transformation-cant-boil-the-ocean/)
The Mendix model recommends that you start small.
The first step is all about proof, proof that a specific problem can be solved with the platform and then to celebrate your success. It is important to pick the right project as your first attempt. It has to be a project that can deliver business value quickly, but is significant enough that it’s impact is seen throughout the organisation.
The second step is all about setting up the right processes to accelerate digital transformation. The main objectives of this phase are to building your own Mendix team, identifying training needs and deciding on a sourcing strategy. It is also important to formalise your methodology so that you can replicate your success.
The final step is all about ensuring that greater automation is applied to ensure efficient delivery and management of hundreds of applications. Provisioning can be done manually for a handful of applications, but automation through public or private cloud services is needed once scale is reached. This is where you setup a Mendix Centre of Excellence to achieve this.
Do I have the skills available in my business?
Another challenge is ensuring that the resources needed to make things work are available. Are the required resources and skills available within the business or should they be resourced externally? Mode 1 Legacy system resources usually only exist internally.
Mendix offers a low-code platform that does not need expert skills. While there aren’t specific technical skills required for using this platform, there are a few attributes you are looking for in a Mendix developer that will help finding the right talent for your team. They would need:
• To see the ‘big-picture’ when gathering requirements through business needs
• To understand all the tiers of software development (database, middleware, business logic, UI) and the SDLC (requirements, developing, testing, releasing)
• To have a passion for delivering software applications that the business wants to use and sees the value in the end product
• To have an open mind to learn new technologies and willingness to expand skill-sets
The idea would be that initially, your internal team would take a secondary role. This happens during the first few projects while your team learns the ropes of the platform and puts the processes around delivery in place. Once the team are confident in the use of the platform and your delivery processes using agile, your team can work on their own without external resource dependency.