Pega introduced its Enterprise Low-Code Factory during the keynote at its annual Pega World conference in Las Vegas this week. This is not just a new technical solution that enables employees to create their own apps. Pega has clearly thought through how an organisation should look to adopt low code development by citizen developers. It has launched not just technical tools but also a whole structure around the solution that should allow organisations to successfully implement a low code strategy.
The Pega way
On stage, Founder and CEO Alan Trefler, Pega Systems spoke about the three well-intentioned but disastrous mistakes that organisations often make on their customer engagement strategies:
Channels not journeys
Trefler’s view is that companies organise themselves around the channels to market rather than the journey that the customer wishes to undertake. They create teams around different channels such as mobile, web, chat, voice. Each team then embeds code into each of these channels to serve customers. It is not a seamless omni and cross channel experience. Instead companies need to consider the journey that customers wish to make. Trefler termed this a channel less approach that sees the intelligence centralised and to which Pega converges the channels. This year Trefler also announced the message by indicating that Pega is now focused on delivering micro journeys. This is not around requirements.
Focus on tasks not outcomes
Organisations also look to deliver automation of tasks rather than consider the actual outcomes they are trying to achieve. An example would be automating the process of offboarding a client because it is cumbersome and takes too long. Having an efficient process to do this adds no value to the business. It is better to understand and fix the reason why the client wants to leave in the first place.
Silos not end to end
The whole engagement experience is siloed between channels and departments. Companies need to present a frictionless and channel free engagement where customers do not need to repeat themselves.
To address this Trefler advocates that companies should use design thinking to approach issues with a more open mind. With regards to getting the advantage from automation, while the outcome is kept in mind, it is often better to focus on smaller micro journeys and have the capability of building those up into a complete transformative solution.
Enter the Low code Factory
One way that companies can do this is to adopt a low code approach using the low code factory. While this is not yet fully available until later in 2019, there are elements that are in place already. The low code factory came about as a result of customer demand rather than Pega looking to create a product. Its early iterations are already delivering benefit to early adopter organisations. There are three aspects to the low code factory:
(1) Governance and controls
The solution includes elements of governance that allow an organisation to control the spread of citizen developers. It can authorise users to create and or use applications. It can map this administration framework against existing organisational structure. The solution also provides guard rails. Applications are scored and therefore measured about whether they fit within the tolerance. If the score is too high it means that the application may need significant work, after an upgrade to the latest version. Developers should aim to keep their applications within the guard rails, as this will mean that future updates are relatively easy to complete. As applications are adopted within an organisation, governance stakeholders are about to graduate an application to higher levels of compute power so that they can scale to meet demand.
Putting sophisticated, even easy to use, tools into the hands of citizen developers carries risks. However, Pega have mitigated many of those through a comprehensive and easy to access suite of educational components. These include videos that walk employees through the creation of applications. Webinars to explain and documentation to support the different features of the low code factory. There are also forums that users can share and access guides and tips. What this means is that with little or no development experience, just an understanding of the business processes, employees can learn how to create automation apps on the tool set.
(3) Centralised Tools
From a centralized dashboard users are able to access applications, app creation tools and documentation to begn their low code journey. Users are quickly able to see what applications they have access to and their status. The environment is also fully integrated with the devops solutions that Pega provides. This also helps to ensure that the app development process is collaborative between the citizen developer, IT and other stakeholders. A recent innovation, though possibly not in the final version, is a feedback mechanism using a star rating system. This gamification is supported by a text based feedback loop that users can report a bug or make a suggestion, raising a case within the Pega system.
Enterprise times: What does this mean
This is a complete solution that organisations can adopt, not as shadow IT hidden from the IT department but as an inherent extension of it. The low code factory enables employees across an organization to leverage technology for the betterment of themselves, with the assistance and oversight of the IT department. That means that is integrated into the overall IT architecture, complimenting it rather than working against it. It will become generally available in Q3 2019 and many organisations are likely to look seriously at what it can deliver.
Don Schuerman, CTO and Vice President, Product Marketing, Pegasystems: “Enterprise Low-Code Factory encompasses three decades of learning from model-driven application development so businesses can immediately roll out low code organization-wide. Whether you’re a businessperson, developer, or designer, you now have the potential to become a maker within your own organization to create applications that innovate. At the same time, IT managers can rest easy knowing they can balance control and collaboration through repeatable governance processes.”