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Exclusive: Industry-first AI low-code platform helps you build apps without a developer

Mendix Assist provides 90% accuracy on next-step suggestions while building out an enterprise app.

It's no secret that the amount of software an average company needs is growing quickly, while demand for developers far outstrips supply. But an industry-first artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted low-code platform may help enterprises more quickly build the apps they need, without coding experience.

By 2020, there will be five times as many open developer jobs than there are professionals to fill them, according to Johan den Haan, CTO of low-code platform Mendix. "All these companies that want to survive in a digital world don't have the amount of programmers they need," den Haan said.

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Mendix was founded to give people without significant programming experience the ability to create enterprise applications. However, those professionals still needed to know some basics of development to work with the platform. Enter Mendix Assist, the first AI-assisted low-code application development platform. The platform was built based on a machine learning analysis of more than 5 million anonymized application flows built with Mendix across 15 industries.

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Mendix Assist guides citizen developers through the enterprise app development process by offering next-step suggestions in real time with 90% accuracy, den Haan said. It also offers quality, performance, and maintenance recommendations while building an app. The platform can boost developer productivity, and decrease the cost and time impact of defects by 100x, according to a press release.

The platform also aims to increase developer productivity with smart suggestions for application logic flows. Built-in consistency checks and quality oversight--including security configuration consistency, software maintainability, and application scalability--can spot issues that normal analysis wouldn't find, and provide actionable feedback to developers along the way, the release noted.

"We can apply the best practices of our experienced Mendix users as a virtual coach to other users," den Haan said. "If you are building a visual model on Mendix, Mendix Assist guides you and predicts your intent, and what are you trying to achieve with the model you are building. And then it suggests to you the next step, with an accuracy of 90%."

Since the platform is AI-based, it will get smarter over time, incorporating insights from the applications being built on Mendix, and tailoring its assistance to an organization's business processes and development style, according to the release.

"It really feels like you have a coach looking over your shoulder, gently coaching you in the right direction in building your first enterprise application," den Haan said.

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Consulting firm Capgemini has been working to integrate AI into its own delivery processes to boost productivity and client satisfaction, according to Desiree Fraser, the firm's practice manager of custom software development. While it has used Mendix's past low-code platform to create several applications in logistics, finance, and customer management, AI Assist offers "productivity on steroids," Fraser said.

"We suggest low-code development platforms to companies looking either to augment their existing enterprise systems with innovative applications or building their next generation of digital apps from scratch," Fraser said. "It's always a matter of having well-trained, good people, but AI-assisted low code development certainly gives a head start."

Gartner predicts that by 2022, at least 40% of new application development projects will use virtual AI co-developers to help enterprises keep pace with the demands of digital transformation initiatives.

"The whole goal of the low-code industry is to add layers of extraction, so that it's easier and faster to develop enterprise software," den Haan said. "So the logical next step is in making it easier and applying automation and machine learning in development."

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