'7 Minutes' With OutSystems VP Global Channels & Alliances Bob Wilson

Low code is one answer to the high cost of app dev. OutSystems wants to be the channel choice.

Lorna Garey

April 3, 2018

7 Min Read

**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**

Businesses of all stripes need multiplatform apps, but developer time is expensive. One answer for partners with busy dev practices, or clients facing that challenge, is a low-code development platform, which may speed delivery of customer-facing projects like web or mobile apps.

This isn’t to say you can hand coding over to an IT generalist or line of business super user. You may, however, free developers from rote work and allow them to focus on business-critical differentiators in customer apps.


OutSystems’ Bob Wilson

“Low code/no code solutions are a fit for any agile or DevOps shop, as long as they allow the possibility of adding in the code required to customize solutions to a given environment,” says Don MacVittie, founder of consultancy Ingrained Technology. “Use of these tools has been quietly growing for years, and as agile gains level off, they will increasingly be a serious consideration for shops looking to automate some of the more mundane tasks of application development.”

MacVittie adds that tools in the low/no code space that allow for automated deployment also help shops advance their DevOps initiatives, making them doubly appealing to teams that don’t already have application release automation solutions in place.

Still, market growth and DevOps appeal are drawing a large and diverse field of suppliers looking for mindshare. As OutSystems VP Global Channels & Alliances Bob Wilson tells Channel Partners, the space is anything but simple, with big IaaS and SaaS providers including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle looking to extend their platform-as-a-service offerings.

OutSystems competes more directly with the likes of K2, Kony and Mendix, and Wilson joined us for our latest 7 Minutes Q&A to explain how his solution is a better bet for partners.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

Bob Wilson: We’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback to our platform. OutSystems is simple and fast, while still maintaining the enterprise-level power that our customers need and expect to remain competitive in the market. Customers enjoy the agility we provide in the development process — encouraging collaboration between IT and business users combined with fast results.

It’s also easy to learn and allows for smooth transitions. For example, replacing a portal could take around three months, with non-developer IT teams quickly understanding the technology to achieve success in their projects. Additionally, the OutSystems support team develops a personal partnership to ensure all customers have every opportunity to succeed.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features? Do you work with masters and/or distributors?

BW: Significant resources have been put in place to relaunch the …

OutSystems Global and North American Partner Program. We focus on enhancing margins and providing protections for partners to help them grow and generate new business opportunities.

We’ve expanded partner enablement initiatives over the past year, especially with our Online Partner Enablement Certifications, allowing partners the convenience of training through free classes and labs online, 24/7. To enable our 245+ partners through the new program, we’ve added partner playbooks that outline sales, technical enablement, education and training, certification, deal registration, and go-to-market strategies.

Relaunching the partner program, we changed from two levels of partnership to three levels. This was a major strategic change because we were experiencing an overabundance of net-new partner interest in OutSystems and the low-code market. The change significantly impacted our operations, from our digital team for website presence, to our community that has grown to over 100,000 members, to contractual status, MDF, partner portal and certification criteria.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

BW: OutSystems has more than 245 partners globally, and we are constantly adding new ones. In 2017, we delivered major digital-transformation projects with key partners such as Deloitte, Cognizant, KPMG, Tech Mahindra, ATOS, NCS, CTC and Persistent Systems.

CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?

BW: Today, Forrester tracks more than five-dozen providers of low-code development tools, with new entrants joining every week. We believe that the low-code market falls into three general categories:

  • Infrastructure companies, like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, that offer their in-house low-code products to build apps on their cloud;

  • SaaS vendors, like Salesforce, that offer tools to extend their packaged app platforms and ecosystem; and

  • Independent platforms that address different audiences — from no-code tools, like QuickBase, aimed at citizen developers, to full-featured low-code platforms like ours that support full enterprise digital transformation.

Infrastructure and SaaS players offer low-code options to get customers to consume more of their core services. In contrast, independent platforms focus on the core platform and functionality. However, with low code being a hot technology these days, many independent platform vendors have hitched their technologies to the low-code bandwagon. These are vendors who have re-messaged their BPM, middleware or CRM platforms as “low code.” It’s an extra narrow focus on a specific use case, or a small part of low-code versus a solution for a whole company. The no-code providers promise speed and ease-of-use for the “citizen developer,” but many of their platforms hit a wall when more complex applications are attempted.

In contrast, what a full-featured, independent low-code platform like OutSystems offers is support for the entire digital-transformation journey that many organizations must take to remain competitive. This includes enabling organizations to use the benefits of low-code development to deliver complex enterprise applications and entire core systems. These platforms provide the integration, scalability, security and high availability required.

CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?

BW: We’re seeing more and more uses of …

… artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will only continue to grow as these technologies are applied to more business problems. With that in mind, we recently announced a new initiative, called Project Turing, that is dedicated to bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning to software development. We’ve built a new AI Center of Excellence in Lisbon, Portugal, that will develop and design AI assistants, analyzers and systems.

Therefore, we expect to see our platform incorporate this technology in the near future.

CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?

BW: Our 2018 channel partner strategy has four main pillars: channel, tech alliances, embedded and global training.

Earlier this year we unveiled our Technology Alliances Program, dedicated to helping our customers enhance their applications through certified integrations with best-of-breed, third-party technologies. This new program gives our partners access to our own technical resources, along with marketing opportunities and go-to-market enablement. This is all in addition to OutSystems Forge, our community marketplace that provides over 1,500 prebuilt app components. This underscores the major growth our channel program has experienced just in the past year, and we’re excited to continue to bring new offerings to our channel partners to help improve their technical skills.

CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?

BW: The low-code market has been highlighted by industry analysts to be worth $27 billion by 2022. OutSystems is a pioneer in the low-code platform market, and we continue to expand our features into new areas of business applications. OutSystems is also investing to address the full range of business application use cases, including replacement systems of record. OutSystems has a very mature and rich public-cloud service, including an extensive sharing marketplace and developer community. To assist in reaching this demand, the investment into the channel will be significant in 2018, with resources for channel sales, solution architects and partner success managers.

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