Gartner classifies application platform as a service (aPaaS) into HC (High Control) and HP (High Productivity) aPaaS. HP aPaaS are also called Low Code Development Platforms (LCDP). I would further classify LCDP into the LCDP based on business process management (BPM) and those that are not and more UX centric. Let me call the former BPM-Centric LCDP and the latter UX-Centric LCDP. Comparing Figures 1 and 18, you can find platforms that are appearing in both vendor landscapes, and they are BPM-Centric LCDPs (which include Appian, BizAgi, K2, AgilePoint, PNMSoft, etc.)
Forrester calls the BPM-centric LCDP the Digital Process Automation (DPA) software (Refer to: Forrester, The Forrester Wave™: Digital Process Automation Software, Q3 2017). Figure 25 shows DPA software vendors. Pegasystems, IBM, SoftwareAG, Oracle, etc. are added to the group of BPM-Centric LCDPs we identified hereinbefore. Forrester's criteria for DPA software include the following specific functionalities: (1) create digital front-end process experiences and consumer-grade UX for web and mobile; (2) support process analysis, modeling, automation and integration; (3) allow low-code or no-code development; (4) commit to innovation of the DPA product with AI (such as business decisions based on machine learning) and IoT support; (5) support dynamic case management and robotic process automation (RPA).
RPA is an emerging form of business process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or AI workers. In traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal APIs or dedicated scripting language. In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application's GUI, and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI. This can lower the barrier to use of automation in products that might not otherwise feature APIs for this purpose. RPA tools have strong technical similarities to GUI testing tools. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotic_process_automation#cite_note-NewScientistAI-1)
What drives the BPMS vendors to change their products to DPA software is to support Digital Transformation of customers. As organizations undertake digital transformation efforts, an important realization emerges: process matters. Investments in beautifully designed web and mobile experiences won’t move the needle unless app development and delivery professionals ensure that the processes on the back end align to support a true end-to-end customer experience (CX). (Refer to: Ibid.)
Digital business is the next generation of businesses. Application development platforms including HC aPaaS, UX-Centric HP aPaaS, BPM-Centric HP aPaaS (a.k.a. DPA software) all will try to evolve into a platform most helpful for building and running digital businesses. Let's recall the pattrens of digital business (in the Digital Business Patterns and Antipatterns section in the Software Business page of this blog site) because they are the functionalities future app development platforms will aim to support: single code base, service-oriented architecture, mass customization, talent management, layered cloud architecture, self-service, metered service, elastic service, process automation, multitenancy, single instance, continuous deployment, multitenant software architecture, metadata-based customization, web 2.0 marketing, partner ecosystem, business analysis expertise, standard process, strategic training program, asset-based service, time management, opportunity management, iterative project, professional service automation, IoT reference architecture, OT/IT integration, asymmetric competition, business model innovation, IoT-enabled operations, IoT-enabled product design, IoT-enabled CRM, digital value chain, product servitization, API business, pace-layered application architecture, system of systems. It will be interesting to think about which digital business patterns are served by different functionalities pursued by DPA software. Thinking through those goals-means relationships will help you understand deeper why and how to utilize DPA software capabilities for your digital business initiatives.
DPA software coupled with DevOps have made business process-driven app development, upgrade and maintenance easier and faster. Non-IT business people can develop enterprise applications, especially new digital business applications. Business domain and process experts' roles are critically important in DevOps teams especially for emerging digital business projects. We need software-savvy business process users who will co-create apps with developers. DPA software are evolving into BizDevOps tools that maximally automates design, build, deployment and operation.