Progress staged its ‘Next 2018’ conference and exhibition programme this week in a blustery Boston, Massachusetts.
The event was designed to showcase the ‘current version and iteration’ not just of the Progress software application development and deployment platform… but also to showcase the ‘current version and iteration’ of Progress itself — because the company has over the years switched its focus (that’s an observation, not a criticism) to align itself to what is undeniably an always-changing software market.
As somewhat of a precursor to the event itself the company has detailed the work of its Progress Labs internal technology incubator.
The firm has been running its labs division since 2017 and it exists to ‘nurture’ the best ideas from Progress employees and bring them to market as new technologies.
Progress CTO Dmitri Tcherevik explains that his team has chosen to three specific areas: blockchain, AR/VR and microapps — so let’s take those one by one.
Blockchain & AR/VR
Magical analyst house Gartner has conjured up a soothsaying vision to estimate that by 2025, the [global] business value added by blockchain will grow to slightly over $176 billion, then surge to more than $3.1 trillion by 2030.
The firm’s own blockchain platform helps set up a blockchain network connecting disparate processes and information systems into a secure, permissioned and distributed ledger.
Progress Labs intends to create AR & VR products that connect people to information, sensor data and physical equipment in a natural way that blends the physical and virtual worlds. The goal is to deliver augmented experiences that adapt to the environment and job at hand to increase worker productivity across head-mounted displays (smart glass) and desktops.
Progress claims that customers are struggling to implement microservices and cloud-native architectures for integrating business systems and automating workflows due to the need for maintenance, security, compliance and more.
According to Progress, ‘micromoments’ or microapps, are a new paradigm in application architecture and user experience that deliver on the promise of mobility with new levels of flexibility to increase user productivity and optimise operations, without comprising security or increasing costs.
As already detailed in slightly more direct terms here, “Although you will think you don’t know micro apps, you already do. In the desktop realm these are small system admin utilities (e.g. an app to report how full your hard drive is). In the world of mobile, a micro app is a consumer-oriented application delivering highly targeted functionality (e.g. a weather forecast app). The commonality factor here has always been that micro apps (in either sphere) provide highly focused, task-based functionality that let users get in, interact, and get out with maximum efficiency.”
The Progress microapps platform delivers ‘business workflows’ through a set of microservices and microapps that are readily available to users, without the need to install, authenticate and cope with multiple mobile apps and web portals.
Progress Labs teams generally spend one to a maximum of two years testing their ideas by implementing a sequence of experiments designed to prove their economic and customer value. Successful projects become part of the Progress portfolio upon their graduation from the Labs.
The Progress Labs pilot program in 2017 resulted in the release of Progress NativeChat, an AI-driven platform for creating and deploying chatbots.