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No-code app development vendor Crowd Machine bets on channel

Crowd Machine is enlisting help from channel partners as it bids to differentiate itself in the growing no-code app development platform marketplace.

Crowd Machine, an enterprise no-code app development platform, has launched the Crowd Machine Partner Network, which features four levels of channel engagement and recurring revenue streams.

The Scotts Valley, Calif., company's offerings are designed to help enterprises build new applications that support initiatives, like digital transformation. To date, Crowd Machine has had some success in this fledgling market but faces stiff competition moving forward.

Crowd Machine is one in a growing number of contenders in the emerging low-code/no-code (LCNC) application development marketplace. Low-code and no-code development platforms are designed to speed up application development by minimizing or eliminating the commands that developers must write. Because this market has been taking shape, precise definitions are lacking, and the distinctions between no-code and low-code app development platforms are unclear.

Jason BloombergJason Bloomberg

In addition, the features supported in LCNC solutions are quite broad. "The low-code/no-code tools offer various levels of sophistication and support features, like connectors to different applications," noted Jason Bloomberg, president at Intellyx, a market industry analyst firm.

These products automate traditional development tasks, such as building a UI or connecting to Microsoft's Active Directory. The tools are sold to IT staff or business unit developers, who often lack a traditional technology background.

Turning to partners

Crowd Machine provides a PaaS offering for building LCNC applications. James Hanley, COO at Crowd Machine, claims the product delivers a tenfold productivity improvement.

James HanleyJames Hanley

Such improvements have attracted customers: "We have more than doubled in size every year," Hanley said of the five-year-old company.

Now, Crowd Machine is betting on its partners to help carve out its niche. The company's partner program, launched in May, has four tiers: Referral, Sales, Reseller and ISV Partner.

  • Referral Partner: After referring a qualified opportunity to Crowd Machine, the partner receives 10% of the subscription fees for two years. These partners must participate in one annual promotional activity.
  • Sales Partner: These resellers actively engage in the sales process and receive 15% of the subscription fees for two years. They must participate in two annual promotional activities.
  • Reseller Partner: Companies in this tier are engaged in the sales process and provide design, development, integration, migration, deployment, enhancement and ongoing services required by the customer. They receive 25% of the subscription fee for two years and then 15% of the revenue generated for the life of the customer engagement. Reseller Partners need at least two Certified Crowd Machine App Developers on staff.
  • ISV Partner: These companies use the Crowd Machine platform to design, develop, deploy and maintain applications. Their subscription fees are negotiated with Crowd Machine. ISV partners set their own fees for use of their applications by their clients. They must have at least two Certified Crowd Machine App Developers on staff and participate in two annual promotional activities. 
Now, we are pivoting, so we can help our partners develop solutions for their customers.
James HanleyCOO, Crowd Machine

Crowd Machine's partnering approach has changed as its business has grown. "Before, we treated our customers and partners largely the same," Hanley said. "Now, we are pivoting, so we can help our partners develop solutions for their customers."

Tom Hall, founder and CEO of Appsolutely Inc., a company based in the United Kingdom, is taking part in the Crowd Machine Partner Network. He met Crowd Machine CEO Craig Sproule while taking a blockchain course. "I was leery of no-code solutions," Hall explained. "I had taught myself how to code on the side. The no-code systems that I tried were quite limited and needed a great deal of additional coding."

Appsolutely used Crowd Machine's platform to build an accounting application that it plans to market.

Blockchain and no-code app development

Other vendors, such as Appian, Mendix, Microsoft, Quick Base, ServiceNow and Zudy, also target the LCNC app development space. "There are plenty of players already in the … market, and new ones emerge every day," Bloomberg noted.

Crowd Machine is in need of a differentiator in this evolving, competitive space, and blockchain support may provide it. The company's offerings were designed to be blockchain-compatible from inception, and additional blockchain support is on the docket.

However, blockchain has been slow to take hold in the enterprise market. "We see a steady but slow trend that includes progressive adoption of the rapidly developing technology, which is fairly complex and unfamiliar," said Homan Farahmand, senior director at Gartner.

This was last published in June 2019

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