Pega targets low code development and intelligent workflow orchestration in the enterprise

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez May 4, 2021
Speaking ahead of PegaWorld iNspire this week, Pega CEO Alan Trefler outlines the company’s platform ambitions as it reaches $1 billion in annual revenue.

Image of Pega CEO Alan Trefler
(Image sourced via Pega)

Pegasystems is looking to bring agility, flexibility and ease of use to its customers, as they navigate microservices, multiple platforms and multi-cloud environments in an increasingly demanding COVID-19 world. 

The company, which recently reached $1 billion in annual revenue, is today making a number of announcements at its annual PegaWorld iNspire event. Central to these announcements though is Pega's fresh focus on workflow orchestration across multiple apps and bringing low code development opportunities to users, whilst not breaking any process logic in the back end. 

Pega refers to this as its ‘center-out approach', where Pega's ‘brain process engine' essentially ties together multiple systems and feeds live data into the front-end, no matter where it needs to be. 

The latest version of Pega Infinity 8.6, which will be available by the end of Q2 2021, will include the following new capabilities: 

  • Self-optimizing AI-powered process optimization - Pega Process AI aims to bring Pega's AI and decisioning capabilities together with Pega's low-code process automation software to help organizations optimize their business and customer operations in real time. Pega claims that this solution will self-optimize and intelligently triage millions of incoming customer requests, transactions, and other events at enterprise scale. The outcome being: fast and effective event resolutions while helping lower operating costs and simplify employee and customer experiences.  

  • Workflow orchestration across applications - Previously on a limited trial basis, Pega Process Fabric now becomes available to all users, with the aim of helping employees manage their work in a single location. It provides a unified worklist that consolidates tasks from multiple apps - both Pega and non-Pega - in a single location. AI will be used to help ensure the most important work gets top priority. Pega says that this "interwoven and intelligent view of work" eliminates inefficient screen switching while providing better visibility and insight into critical customer needs. 

In a media pre-briefing, Alan Trefler, founder and CEO of Pegasystems, gave some context as to why this center-out approach, and use of Pega Process Fabric, makes sense for customers operating in today's environment. Trefler said: 

People are understanding that it's a platform world, and they need a platform to be able to have the agility to be able to handle the multi-cloud world that we're in. We need to be able to bring the information together, and this is terrific for us, because I've spoken about Pega's centre out architecture. You really want to bring the brains, the process, the case management into the centre of your business, focusing on your customers business issues. 

But you want to then use what we call the DX API and our ability to do what's called live data, to make it so that you can be cross channel. When you make a change in the mobile channel, it's also reflected in the website, also reflected in the contact centre. Being able to keep business logic out of the frontend or out of the backend. 

Commenting on Pega being used as a fabric to weave an enterprise architecture together, Trefler said: 

One of the things I talked what we call the Process Fabric. We want to operate as a brain process engine and a case management system, in the centre of your architecture. We understand architectures are going to be distributed, and they're going to involve Pega systems, they're going to involve non-Pega systems, and the idea is being able to have, in effect, a sort of Google inventory of all of the work that you're doing in your enterprise. 

And the ability from there to be able to snap out to another Pega system, snap out to your SAP, or your ServiceNow system, embed ourselves in a Salesforce front end - that ability to be fluid and to be a fabric is something that we've been working on tremendously, for a couple of reasons. One, we think that's entirely the way the world is going. And two, as businesses and technologists move more to microservices, you really need something that brings them together, and ensures that there's a reliable transactionality that we've taken for granted in historical technology stacks, but now must be done differently going forward.

Embracing low-code

Low-code is the buzzword du jour, with most process driven SaaS vendors seeking to offer some sort of capability. The use cases for these are still in their infancy and we don't have many to offer as examples, so it's worth recognizing that this market still has some maturing to do. But Pega sees opportunity in its low code approach, again seeking to bridge the gap between multiple applications, without breaking the process logic. 

The announcements for the platform this week include: 

  • Easier-to-use low-code design capabilities - Pega aims to take the complexity and guesswork out of UI design by making it easier for enterprise users to create "elegant app interfaces". This prescriptive approach claims to provide an extensible library of reusable design templates in App Studio based on proven best practices. This should let business users focus their attention on modeling and configuring the application while the optimal design layout is intuitively rendered in parallel as they build. In addition, Pega says that interface branding elements are customizable, enabling users to automatically set their brand guidelines across the entire app.

  • Context-aware APIs that dynamically update as processes change - Unlike traditional static APIs, enhanced Pega Digital Experience (DX) APIs claim to automatically adjust all connected front-end interfaces when changes are made to its core back-end process - all without rewriting any code. For example, if a bank uses Pega to update an existing loan application process with a new data field, Pega DX API should dynamically render the new field across all connected channels, such as the web or mobile interface. This aims to free front-end designers from having to recode front-end interfaces with every new back-end process change, saving a significant amount of time.

It's this last point that Don Schuerman, CTO at Pega, was keen to highlight, given the benefits it could bring to those seeking to make use of low code capabilities. He said: 

What's powerful about the DX API and what I think is pretty unique about it is we're not just providing static data back to the front end. The API is actually providing contextual information about the process and what is needed, and this allows the front end developer to focus entirely on the layout of the screen, the design, rather than having to code and track the process logic and the process context in the front end. 

The other approach to doing this, basically leads to you building front ends that replicate your process logic that we want to have in the centre - because the DX API can pass that process information into the front end, I can keep my process change central and have that front end dynamically respond. So we've got clients who are live with this using Pega processes in their front end user experiences and in some cases embedded into things like their Salesforce applications. And it's really powerful because I can go add a field or add a step to a process in Pega and that field automatically appears in the front end without the front end developer having to change anything. 

So I think this is pretty unique and pretty important as we think about taking these processes and embedding them across multiple channels for a client.

My take

We will be tuning into the Pega event this week to listen in to the customer sessions, to get a clearer understanding of how these capabilities are playing out in the real world. That's where the real test lies, so keep your eyes peeled for updates throughout the week. 

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