Pop Quiz: What happens when anyone can build an app?
The answer is quite simple and relates purely to the development of digital products themselves. Often considered to be a highly-skilled discipline based around coding fluency, the app economy is being disrupted by the rise in low-code/no-code (LCNC) software platforms.
Low-code/no-code adoption has exploded in the last few years. The low-code development market will reach a staggering $13.8 billion by the end of 2021, up by more than 20 percent on the year before, according to Gartner. What’s more, the analyst firm predicts that low-code/no-code solutions will make up 65 percent of application development by 2024. If that is the case, there’s no hiding from the low-code movement.
Why Enterprises Should Embrace Low-Code
These types of development platforms enable those without a traditional coding or IT background to design, build and deploy their own applications… fast.
Low-code/no-code applications improve time-to-market, productivity levels and business agility. They save time, money and can avoid vendor lock-in and the costly customizations associated with existing off-the-shelf solutions. In addition, they empower business leaders to create custom solutions with minimal involvement of the IT department, helping to bridge the skills gap and easing pressure on the highly-skilled, but permanently over-stretched, IT department.
In short, low-code/no-code development is transformational to businesses.
It’s should come as no surprise they’re proving popular with businesses of all sizes. There’s a low-code/no-code solution to fit any brief. Need to design a website? Check. Need to manage your databases better? Check. What about a quick way to boost automation levels within a department? Check. Looking for mobile app design? Check.
Achieve Your Digital Goals with Low-Code/No-Code
As a relatively new phenomenon, businesses can have a tough time selecting the right tool in a highly fragmented marketplace. Any solution needs to be the right fit from a technical perspective (will it integrate with my existing systems?), from a business standpoint (will it advance our digital transformation vision?) and culturally (what is the appetite for low-code/no-code and at what skill level?).
Many organizations are already using the solution to some extent, but are unsure how to scale adoption beyond the IT team or a few hand-picked pilot projects. In the past year we’ve fielded increasing numbers of questions from our clients about how they should approach this trend.
Wherever you are on the low-code/no-code adoption spectrum, we’ve attempted to capture the most relevant questions enterprises should consider in order to successfully integrate this form of development into their organization.
Are you struggling to meet the demand for digital products?
If the answer is yes, then there’s a low-code/no-code solution that is right for your business. While the rise of citizen developers grabs the headlines, this is quietly revolutionizing the IT department too, helping IT leaders create custom solutions in record time.
We are looking for ways to accelerate digital transformation across the organization – can low-code/no-code apps help us realize this goal?
Yes. A core part of digital transformation is business agility.
By speeding time-to-market for digital products, low-code/no-code helps businesses respond to market dynamics faster while being more efficient. Automation is a key enabler of business agility, and it’s one of the hottest growth areas in the overall market. RPA is among the fastest growing segments and the promise of hyperautomation is driving enterprises to include low-code/no-code as a route to accelerating digital transformation.
Moreover, introducing low-code/no-code enables businesses to be bolder and more experimental in the execution of their ideas. This is digital innovation in action.
We need to keep a check on costs. Is this type of development a viable route or are there hidden costs?
The barriers to entry and development costs are low, but it’s also true that some IT involvement is required in overseeing the builds, managing integration and ongoing maintenance.
A leading driver behind Apexon’s recent partnership with the enterprise no-code platform leader, Unqork, was to enable our customers to develop and deliver apps with faster time to launch, improved quality and at a lower cost versus code-based methods. For example, Unqork customers are able to launch complex solutions at least three times faster than coding methods and at a third of the cost.
Do we need to modernize our infrastructure before embarking on low-code development?
Not necessarily. In fact, low-code/no-code solutions can help accelerate migration to flexible, cloud-based architecture.
Khalda De Souza, HfS Research drew attention to the capability of low-code/no-code to deliver a “complete modernization of your enterprise application environment. LCNC enables you to integrate with your legacy systems. Most enterprises do not realize this, but as awareness increases, we expect the LCNC development market to explode.”
Citizen development sounds great in theory, but will it lead to the IT department losing control?
Those of you old enough to remember a time before smartphones will remember the big shift away from company-sanctioned laptops and phones to BYOD, or bring-your-own-device. There was much debate about how to control the trend and whether it could be stopped (it could not). There are parallels with the low-code/no-code trend.
Low-code/no-code is coming and its effects will be radical. Digital leaders should take a proactive approach to this option, especially if there’s high demand coming from within the business. This will eventually involve formulating a company policy, setting some ground rules and have a process to alert the IT teams of the projects under development.
How can I ensure that low-code/no-code apps in the hands of citizen developers do not pose a security or compliance risk?
Security and compliance are rightly serious considerations with low-code/no-code.
Forrester’s excellent blog on the topic points out that low-code security is, as yet, not as well-understood, but that low-code applications “can be more secure than those built with more traditional coding methods.” For example, working with Unqork’s no-code platform, Apexon found a significant reduction in defects.
Apexon’s no-code partner, Unqork, designed its platform specifically for enterprises in highly-regulated industries. This focus makes it a good fit for our customer base, which includes financial services and healthcare clients.
What potential challenges should enterprises be aware of when it comes to low-code/no-code?
Tool selection is key to success.
When choosing the right platforms for an organization, it is important to keep context in mind. How will they integrate with the wider IT environment? How do they fit with the overall digital transformation strategy?
Company culture plays an important part in the success of low-code/no-code initiatives. The process of creating digital products using LCNC tools is a great way of increasing collaboration, bringing together IT and business leaders as never before.
On the flip side, low-code/no-code is a tool and only as good as those who use it. Businesses need to guard against citizen developer projects that end up becoming a time-suck.
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that we are all just at the start of the low-code/no-code wave, which means that everyone is on a learning curve to a greater or lesser extent. The reality is that we are only now starting see now the establishment of best practices and the growth of the low and codeless support community as digital engineers and citizen developers gain experience in this new trend.
The Bottom Line on Low-Code/No-Code
It may only be the beginning of the low-code/no-code movement, but it’s clear it has the power to disrupt digital engineering.
Pioneering enterprises are already leveraging low-code/no-code to get ahead of their competitors: accelerating digital maturity, increasing business agility and improving efficiency. In fact, this form of app development has the potential to smash the old siloes between business departments, democratizing software production like never before.
For this reason alone, demystifying the world of the coder presents management challenges and so enterprises must think carefully how they introduce low-code/no-code into their business. And while those who code will always code, being able to leverage citizen developers will, ultimately, allow your dedicated coders to concentrate on the projects that take your digital journey to the next level.