Just the other day one of our client relationship directors demonstrated a unique use of Mendix with me that I simply had to share. I wish I could show you screenshots of this, but unfortunately there is no way to do so given the proprietary nature of what the application contained. Here's what happened...
This director is a former BMW engineer (one of the guys designing parts for the vehicles) who left that behind to come to the States and become one of our best client managers. I tell you this to showcase he's no dummy (despite this blog's title in jest), so it should come as no surprise that after a simple introductory class he was off and running with Mendix. His job isn't to design applications or even work in the tool, but understand enough about it to know when it is a good fit to solve a client's problem.
He headed oversees to present to client's about the strategic direction we were headed in, of which one of those is professional services support with Mendix. He decided to utilize the "medium is the message" (see Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media) mindset and build his presentation as a Mendix App. Brilliant!
In roughly the same amount of time, perhaps a tad bit longer, he created an app in his sandbox that acted as his presentation, full on with 'Next' and 'Previous' slide buttons. In addition to the slideshow he was able to build in fields that calculated on-change, navigation menus, links to other sites, etc. You can do most of this in the leading presentation applications so why do this other than for sales and why am I writing about it?
What I like so much about it beyond the sales aspect is the way it showcases what Rapid Application Delivery is doing to disrupt traditional development and how it challenges me to think of using the tool in unique ways. Here's a self-admitted non-developer building an application to achieve a goal in roughly the same amount of time it would take using traditional existing tools and processes.
This got me thinking about possibilities. One of those was to ponder the following: What if your sales teams have a few standard decks of presentations they give, but depending upon variables that happen during each client engagement, they switch between different decks, pictures, materials, and so on? What if instead of this they had an application that contained all of the material that provided decision pathways activated by choices made throughout the presentation as to where they go next? The materials would be consistent across your whole sales force and getting to the valuable information material would be easier to navigate? Of course you would have to codify the knowledge into these pathways but that certainly seems like a logical use of time and effort.
Overall, it's impressive that development tools have already been simplified to the point that you can even talk about creating a presentation in roughly the same amount of time with even more features than the leading application whose sole purpose is to help you develop a presentation. Get tools like Mendix in your business users hands and marvel at the creativity that flourishes. Perhaps instead of worrying about "When" Mendix is a good fit we start challenging "Why Not"?