Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) player Mendix has launched its new application delivery platform, Mendix 7, which it hopes takes businesses to a world of drag-and-drop IoT and ‘smart’ apps.
Announcing the news at the Mendix World in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the firm said that Mendix 7 provides “drag-and-drop connectors to best-in-class IoT, big data and machine learning platforms and services”.
In short, the platform provides out-of-the-box connectivity to the likes of Amazon AWS IoT, AWS Machine Learning, IBM Watson and a variety of other services (Microsoft Azure support is coming soon) – enabling businesses to roll-out their IoT apps.
For example, developers could leverage the image recognition or text-to-speech features from IBM Watson, or use AWS for the connected devices to communicate with each other. Mendix can automatically connect to LoRaWAN networks and supports the MQTT protocol which allows small IoT sensors to talk to each other.
Mendix says that, without writing any code, developers can use the above services to “make connected things and insights actionable”, thereby delivering new experiences for customers, partners and employees.
The platform can also be used to visually map data, while a Web Modeler makes for easier app prototyping. A connector kit offers links to databases, Java and more, while Mendix supports a native mobile experience and has a built-in test suite. There’s also a performance monitor to prevent performance issues occurring early in development cycles and quickly address them if they occur in production.
Mendix smart apps transform operations at KLM
AFI KLM Engineering & Maintenance (E&M) provides a good example of how the Mendix platform enables the rapid delivery of these so-called smart apps.
Within a couple of weeks of deployment, which was part of its “MRO Lab” innovation program, the Franco-Dutch airline built an equipment tracking app that pulled data from the countrywide KPN LoRa network. This provided engineers with a real-time look on iPads at the locations of each piece of airline maintenance equipment.
By increase the efficiency of engineers, this project is expected to not only generate significant cost savings and process improvements but also impact the customer experience in the end through more reliable, on-time flights.
“Everybody in our industry is in a constant fight to improve efficiency and reduce costs,” said Hans Luijendijk, director of business enterprise architecture & strategy at AFI KLM E&M.
“Our equipment tracking app showed us just how powerful a force like the Internet of Things can be. We’ve just scratched the surface in the ways we can use the Mendix platform to digitally enable our engineers and transform our operations.”
IoT going mainstream
Speaking to Internet of Business before the news was announced, Mendix CTO and co-founder Johan den Haan detailed the new platform, and a new world in which – according to him – every company must move to becoming a software company. It is a case of “develop or die”.
“Uber, Airbnb and Netflix…all these start-ups can quickly overtake some stable companies because they know how to use software at the centre of the business and to innovate quickly.”
The Mendix platform allows business and IT to work together, with den Haan saying that Mendix 7 can deliver apps to market six times quicker than typical programmer approach, whilst using 70 less resources.
He sees a new breed of applications called ‘smart’ apps. “They are context aware, intelligent, process all the data and do something meaningful with that – they’re proactive. So instead of the user going to the app for information, the app can go to the user with push notifications or maybe even chat bots.”
Aside KLM, there are other good examples of Mendix – and IoT – in action.
Mendix partner AnTail is the provider of an IoT device that tracks pharmaceutical supply chains to the pharmacy and the customer.
AntTail sensors are placed on boxes, pallets or packaging and transmit data to AWS in real-time. The ‘built-on-Mendix’ AntTail application (provided to AntTail’s customers as a software-as-a-service offering) then interprets that data, making it actionable within AntTail’s customers’ many different processes – tracking pharmaceuticals through the supply-chain to pharmacies and even to the customer.
Internet of Experiences
Den Haan refers to the IoT age as the ‘Internet of Experiences’ and CEO Derek Roos, also co-founder, said that it is driving business innovation.
“Digital innovation happens when you bring people with ideas together with the technologies needed to bring them to life,” said Roos in a statement.
“Mendix 7 is the most open and complete platform to drive digital innovation, enabling business and IT to turn ideas into applications faster and easier than any other approach. We can’t wait to see the new and unexpected ways our customers, partners and developers use Mendix to digitize their operations, customer experience and business models.”