OutSystems CEO Paulo Rosado. Image credit: OutSystems

Paulo Rosado, CEO, OutSystems. Image credit: OutSystems

If you have an idea for an app to help business entrepreneurs and startups but lack the software resources and servers to keep it running, OutSystems might be something you’re looking for.

OutSystems is an open application platform that makes it easy for businesses to create and manage mobile and web applications for social enterprises and businesses. Founded in Portugal back in 2001 by CEO Paulo Rosado, the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company lets users focus on rapidly building and deploying applications, rather than worrying about account server maintenance, ever-changing software and business requirements, and software license upkeeps. Think of it as a competitor to a similar PaaS service Force.com.

The service has received rave reviews from companies like Medivation, ING, Vodafone, conigent, ZEN Internet and many others. Right now, Rosado is eyeing the Asian market, specifically Singapore, due to its potential in using and subscribing to similar services.

e27 interviews the CEO to know OutSystems’ brief history, and how it can help Singapore businesses embrace mobility in creating apps and programs.

On creating OutSystems
Early on in my career back in 1999, I worked on infrastructure software to deploy extranets and intranets in large organisations. Completing projects on time and on budget was a serious challenge, as the constant requests for software changes consistently hampered our ability to deliver.

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That got me thinking: what if we were approaching the problem the wrong way? Instead of trying to implement corrections after the fact, why not assume that things can (and will) go wrong, and work towards a process that helps speed up the process of updating, fixing and correcting? And that was how the idea for OutSystems was first formulated.

Our idea was to partner with application service providers and telecommunications companies, giving us the infrastructure to deploy our platform. This also led to our customers to quickly build custom systems outside of a datacentre. That’s where the name OutSystems came from.

On having a close shave with oblivion
We ended up building a high-productivity application platform for the cloud. That was during a time when the idea of a cloud server didn’t exist. We thought it would take off in 2003, but it didn’t. The company almost went bankrupt. We were 11 years ahead of the market; that was extremely bad timing.

To recuperate losses, we took the platform and started selling it as an on-premises, private platform to enterprises. Last year, we finally realised our original vision, when we launched our public cloud offering, 350 customers later.

On entering the Asian market
In almost all parts of the world, Asia included, we’ve noticed that potential customers tend to value stability. The more you reassure them that you’re financially stable and not liable to disappear at any given moment, the next point of contention becomes the actual merit of your product. Whether it’s in Singapore or in Japan, the business leaders we’ve spoken to were extremely pragmatic. If you focus on delivering value, then you won’t need to worry as much about finding customers.

On upcoming Singaporean businesses
(Our company) can help these businesses embrace the shift to mobility. Businesses today are more global, immediate and mobile than ever. Mobile technology enables employees to keep in touch with the office, the customer and the business opportunity.

But “mobility” is more than just communication on the go. Mobile is about technology that enables the extended enterprise to connect and collaborate, linking customers, partners and employees to valuable online information services, from any device, virtually at any place and at any time.

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(Our service) can help enterprises embrace the mobile concept. The enterprise application ecosystem must be multi-channel and organisations must have a mobile-first strategy. IT needs to be able to create applications that can deploy across all devices automatically, utilising responsive web design in their strategy. Keep in mind though; being mobile means “fast-moving”, and new apps are also constantly being developed.


A sneak peek on how OutSystems’ platform looks like. Image credit: OutSystems

On the top tech trends in the Asian IT industry
As I said before, mobility comes first to mind. Chief Information Officers must now consider how they are going to change the IT environment to accommodate how users wish to interact. They need to consider how they will create new mobile layers for existing applications and how they will build new applications ensuring that mobile is first and at the forefront of their strategy.

The cloud has spoiled both users and businesses, in the sense that immediate gratification has now become a given. If they can have something up and running in mere weeks, why should they ever consider a project proposal that takes nine months to complete?

Big Data, on the other hand, is just the generalisation of analytics. I think in that trend, for instance, there are no longer only transaction-based and analysis-based applications. Transaction-based applications are being fused with analytics, with the end result being the democratisation of analytics for everyone in the organisation. This is to ensure that better decisions can be made.

Advice for startups
You need to be able to access senior talent that can bring your startup to the next level. In Silicon Valley, most of the startup founders there have gone through an average of six failed startups. Despite the failures, the experience acquired is important when it comes to searching for talent to help build new startups.

In short: find and select the right team, and combine it with the right amount of money and market demand. In one or two years, one could create a market leader in a particular category.

One important thing to note that while government help is good, too much of it can kill a startup cluster. This is especially if companies end up relying on incentives to survive. On the other hand,  promoting the country as a technology brand can help pave the way to success with the right government support.