agileBase Platform vision 2020 – from startup to scale-up without screwing up*

Our ambition is to create a Low Code / No Code platform that can support truly ambitious organisations to build their back office across the three phases of their development; startup, scaleup and growth.

Since agileBase’s inception we’ve had the good fortune of working with a wide range of successful customers.

Some have have been driven by dedicated individuals that have grown their companies organically, from small local businesses, through SME territory to become enterprise with hundreds of millions of pounds turnover and growing.

A fair proportion are VC-backed, started by individuals with experience in an industry, who had an idea, convinced funders of its (and their) worth and put in a lot of hard work to make the vision a reality.

Still more are long-standing family firms, where each generation brought something new to the business.

Others have grown rapidly by acquisition.

Most are increasing revenues, customer and employee numbers as they grow their businesses to cover new industries and geographies.

In fact, every story is different, though luckily success is a common factor.

What does this mean for agileBase?

We have built a platform to enable business agility through technology. Specifically, the agile development of back office systems – those that can easily grow and adapt as a company finds new challenges, or pivots to a new area, as sometimes happens.

…and where do we go from here?

When we started, we were the only platform with the technical capabilities to create advanced systems. Indeed, the reason for creating agileBase was because all the other systems we tried to use for customers had a technical ceiling of some sort that meant they had to be abandoned after a certain point in time – they couldn’t create multi-level relationships for example, or couldn’t bring data from different sources into one screen.

What now sets us apart from others who’ve entered the low-code/no-code field is the ability to scale through the entire journey of a business, whatever size they reach and however fast they move.

This is important for companies because it means that they don’t need to experience the upheaval of swapping out core systems at the very point at which they need to be focusing on their own business concerns.

Switching from one major software system to another is resource-sapping at the best of times, as anyone who’s been through the experience will testify. You don’t want to be doing that when orders, working hours and stress levels are going through the roof!

We aim to capitalise on that ability and build further on it – to prove we’re the best option for companies who think for the long term.

Where are we starting from?

We have always focussed on three things; being fast, friendly and flexible.

  • Fast to build new systems
  • Flexible enough to allow you to re-build and adapt to new circumstances just as quickly 
  • Friendly enough to be easily adopted and enjoyed by all users

We have also been very lucky in that, from the very start, we have used a rock-solid database engine that’s inherently scalable and proven at massive data volumes. That’s not something we claim to have built ourselves, but rather comes from our choice to use PostgreSQL: the world’s most advanced open source relational database.

That was an early decision that’s paid dividends ever since.

Where can we improve?

For larger, sustainable companies, additional concerns become important, such as

  • Ecosystem integration
  • Control
  • Efficiency
  • Reliability
  • Data privacy and security

What do these mean and how are we taking them into account?

Well, here is our…

Roadmap

~ Ecosystem integration ~

Over the past year, agileBase’s API has become one of the core aspects of the platform, this ‘interface to the outside world’ is as important as the user interface itself. Customers have been using it to transfer GB of data in and out of the system per month. agileBase is in effect their ‘data engine’ powering other parts of the business, from reporting systems to public websites.

Whilst it would be nice to be able to say that we foresaw all trends, truthfully some things have surprised us and the rapid increase in API use has been one. We’ve responded by putting a lot of work in to making the API interface highly scalable and performant.

In the longer term, we will be working on not just the API itself but other enterprise integration features such as single sign-on, implemented in standards compliant ways like OAuth.

~ Control ~

In the build phase, agileBase is all about agility (duh!). In large companies, we need a way to retain the holy grail of being adaptable, whilst ensuring that developed systems retain stable and trustworthy. How do we square this circle?

We’ve thought about this for a long time and have a really exciting, even revolutionary solution.

The aim is to democratise the ability to develop apps in agileBase even further.

The first thing we’re going to do is add the ability for people to modify views directly in the tiles interface, taking advantage of modern UX practices and of our recent usability learning. That will make it even simpler and quicker for non-technical users to build systems without having to flip back between an administration interface and a separate user interface. The effect will be that changes can be seen in real time as they happen.

This allows control of departmental apps to be pushed down to the departments themselves. If someone in purchasing want to tweak the PO system to update processes and create new reports, leveraging existing databases of suppliers and contacts for example, they can do, without having to go back to central IT.

However, and this is the key point, we by default hide those changes from anyone else in the system. New views that a user creates will only be visible to them. If an administrator decides they’re really useful, they can then flip a switch and make them available to everyone (with the correct permissions). So admins can mandate a core set of views that are globally available, but then let others go for it to make the most they can of their data.

~ Efficiency ~

As you know, agileBase allows applications to be built quickly, but once those applications are in use, particularly in larger organisations, they want to be scaled up so lots of users can process lots and lots of records rapidly – efficiency becomes really important.

We have one other really revolutionary change in the offing that will affect all users’ experience of agileBase. We are going to introduce a new ‘spreadsheet’ or inline editing mode so data can be edited rapidly, in bulk, without navigating back and forth from lists of data to individual records. Of course, various protections will be built in to avoid accidentally doing damage and overwriting data by mistake.

Together with the existing workflow automation features, this and other updates in the pipeline will drastically reduce the number of person-hours specific tasks take.

~ Reliability, Privacy and Security ~

It goes without saying that these are key concerns of ours, our customers and our future customers. Our GDPR policies, procedures and security features we’ve consistently built up over a long period form a bedrock upon which the exciting capabilities above can be assembled.

We will continue to follow emerging trends and implement new data security & privacy best practices.

Summary

Our core mission of ‘business agility through technology’ remains, along with our three characteristics – to be fast, friendly and flexible. They’re part of our DNA and we will always champion them. Many of the features here will be developed in the light of those.

agileBase is now being put to work in ways we didn’t originally envisage, working as the engine for scaled up business enterprises as well as startups. There are some big and exciting changes coming, do get in touch and join us for the journey.

* with apologies to Jurgen Appelo

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