OutSystems CTO: ‘The traditional software development model is broken’

20 May 2022

Patrick Jean. Image: OutSystems

OutSystems’ Patrick Jean discusses the value of low-code options and why too much focus on speed can result in rewarding bad behaviour when it comes to app development.

Patrick Jean is the chief technology officer of OutSystems, a low-code platform that provides tools for companies to develop, deploy and manage enterprise applications.

Jean aims to drive the company’s technology “from vision to execution”, ensuring it’s ahead of the market, shifting technology trends and changing customer needs.

“As CTO, I’m also supporting, directing and growing an exceptional team of engineers who need to stay focused, innovative, able to anticipate and tackle challenges, and manage a roadmap with mastery,” he told SiliconRepublic.com.

“This is an exceptional group of engineers, technologists, programme managers and others who make my job easy. They want to be challenged and I encourage a workplace that allows for every individual to feel empowered to take risks, fail fast, stay innovative and push creative and technology boundaries. They thrive in a highly autonomous, learning culture focused on customer outcomes.”

‘We won’t have enough skilled career developers to meet the growing software needs, but we don’t need to’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape? 

There is no shortage of challenges facing engineering teams today and we’re set up to manage them. The first being a lack of developer talent. We all know this story. Almost every industry is facing a talent shortage today. But IT and software development are hit particularly hard as they struggle to keep up with multiplying software demands while bogged down in legacy applications, technical debt and apps that have hit roadblocks.

The reality is that we won’t have enough skilled career developers to meet the growing software needs, but we don’t need to. This is where the power of a high-performance low-code platform comes in. OutSystem is meeting development teams where they are – which is needing far more productivity from their existing teams and far less to zero mundane and tedious work that crushes productivity and performance.

We’ve designed our platform specifically to address this, by cutting waste out of the development process and allowing developers to focus on building serious, scalable and quality applications. Most organisations actually have the development team they need, but they need help tapping more of their talent and freeing them to innovate, not fix and update apps with traditional manual and unproductive processes.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

As companies across industries continue to push forward their digital transformation strategies, they are faced with incredible roadblocks that impact their ability to modernise their software and solutions. OutSystems directly addresses these challenges by making it possible for any company to modernise their processes and create the applications that meet specific business needs – not just at version one but across their full lifecycle.

Our low-code platform is built to meet the specific development goals and applications they need, regardless of where they are in their digital transformation journeys, the size or scale of the applications, or the timeframe they need to build and launch.

Our platform is built to help companies achieve massive scale, with security, automation and AI-assisted tools built in. This saves them a lot of time, frustration and redundant work down the line. It’s very difficult for companies to achieve their digital transformation goals in a reasonable timeframe given the traditional solutions they have today, which create a perpetual cycle of disempowerment and dis-innovation for their developers.

How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective? 

We need to be building apps for the long term, not just for today. The industry is in need of a shift in perspective. Unfortunately, when we see business leaders looking for apps fast, they’re not looking at apps that scale. You can have both, but you shouldn’t over-index on speed at the expense of the future.

With today’s norm about building apps that solve an immediate and pressing problem, and to maintain outdated systems with quick fixes and bandage solutions, the result is just rewarding bad behaviour. Companies have to stop relying on old, outdated legacy systems to simply maintain the status quo. The traditional software development model is not sustainable, it’s broken.

What needs to occur is a shift in mindset towards the future. Business leaders need to understand that maintaining outdated systems not only costs a business financially and wastes developer creativity. It creates a system that is not sustainable in the long term.

Enterprise low-code tools allow development teams to do more with less resources, removes the toil and lets developers focus on the creative aspect of software development, creating a much more efficient approach to every facet of building applications.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

Gartner predicts that 70pc of new enterprise apps will be developed with low-code or no-code tools by 2025. This is a major shift in the way that apps are developed and will change the way businesses approach IT and software.

Low code enables businesses to build their own custom apps and reduces reliance on off-the-shelf software offerings. Low code lets companies innovate more rapidly and focus on their competitive advantages.

This shift in how apps are developed is exciting for the industry as it will lead to more developers doing more creative and innovative projects and building high-quality apps that are secure and scalable for the long-term.

What are your thoughts on how we can address the security challenges? 

Security is a huge area of concern in our industry. With businesses building their own applications, there’s not only the upfront cost and time that goes into building to consider, but the time and cost of maintaining and securing these systems for years to come.

Low-code platforms again can help here by taking the responsibility of maintenance and security off of individual businesses by embedding security into the development platform and process.

With big impact security issues like the recent Log4j vulnerability continuing to happen, it’s clear that security needs to be a priority for every business but many simply lack the technical capacity, time or financial resources to give this the attention it needs.

I think we’ll likely see more businesses turn to low-code tools to do most of the heavy lifting of security protection and detection, better securing the applications they build.

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