Meeting enterprise challenges with low-code

Last week saw further evidence that the low-code development market is exploding and driving enterprise innovation across numerous sectors. The high profile news of the Siemens acquisition of Mendix, which was preceded by the news in June of the OutSystems $360 million investment round from KKR and Goldman Sachs, highlights what a momentous year for low-code 2018 is turning out to be. Low-code is no longer just for early adopters but is driving mainstream innovation.

>Read more on the importance of agile teams, according to Mendix’s CTO

The adoption of low-code has been growing in popularity with IT teams that have been stretched to the brink over the last few years. And, organisations of all sizes have been finding that low-code rapid development platforms enable new ways of increasing efficiency, saving time and money.

Digital transformation a key driver triggering low-code adoption

One of the key drivers behind the adoption of low-code is digital transformation initiatives. We have certainly seen this in the public sector, as local authorities work towards the 2020 goal of digitally transforming their public services. But, with digital transformation, the idea is to use technology not just to replicate an existing service in a digital form but also to use technology to transform that service into something significantly better. And it’s not just about the technology: changing business processes and corporate culture are just as vital to the success of these initiatives. Again, low-code comes in to play, as it allows iterative, agile steps to be taken and then enables users to test along the way.

This means the adoption of technology enhances and supports traditional work patterns and processes, actually enabling—even catalysing—innovative, new work patterns and hybrid, cross-functional processes. Digital transformation initiatives enable employees to drive innovation throughout their ecosystem with tools that empower them to define and redefine their roles.

Nick Pike, Regional Vice President UK&I, OutSystems
Nick Pike, Regional Vice President UK&I, OutSystems

What are the benefits of low-code?

The benefits of low-code platforms are compelling enough to merit widespread adoption for all business sectors.

>Read more on fast-paced application development

Organisations that are evaluating low-code for their digital transformation initiatives are typically hoping to solve a growing number of problems. Chief among these is the need to rapidly build and manage multiple apps for the business, especially with senior management mandating the use of mobile apps as a competitive advantage. Often, with a backlog of mobile or web apps to build, an in-house IT team can be slow, prone to errors, and unable to respond, or they cannot be as agile and flexible as they might like. Low-code alleviates this pressure on in-house IT teams.

Other benefits include:

• Greater stakeholder engagement and satisfaction. Because low-code platforms build and update apps so quickly, developers can share fully functional features with stakeholders in days or even hours. Maintaining a short, dynamic iteration cycle fosters more active engagement. In addition, there is a clear, ongoing sense of progress and responsiveness.

• Lower risk and higher ROI. All the security, cross-platform support, and data integration capabilities have already been built. And, low-code platforms can be customised easily. As a result, developers and others can focus on solving business problems rather than working through mundane, error-prone technical requirements. The risk of catastrophic failure drops significantly, giving organisations more confidence to innovate.

>Read more on closing the digital skills gap

• Elimination of the IT skills gap. Knowledge of specific languages isn’t required, nor do IT teams have to have years of experience to use low-code. Therefore, more developers can contribute to a project. In some cases, even non-technical stakeholders can learn to build prototypes. Waiting for IT support becomes a thing of the past.

• Building once and deploying everywhere. The best low-code platforms are game-changers for those accustomed to traditional methods. Why? Because you can build apps for multiple platforms simultaneously. Not only that, but it can be done in a fraction of the time needed to hand-code an app for just one.

• Innovation and impact. Low-code platforms eliminate time-consuming and labour-intensive hand coding apps. As a result, developers can create innovative new functionality or customise features without mundane coding requirements slowing them down.

Empowering employees

Traditionally, when organisations have wanted to develop an application to meet their specific requirements, they have had to rely on developers. Skilled developers are a limited resource that’s in short supply. As a result, this traditional “high-code” route would often result in untenable project lead times, particularly if several applications needed to be developed at once. Consequently, in-house IT teams, through no fault of their own, become a bottleneck.

Skilled developers are in short supply. Low-code can provide a solution
Skilled developers are in short supply. Low-code can provide a solution. Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

>Read more on the 4 requirements of a low-code development platform

The alternative option is to use expensive external consultants. Low-code platforms are eliminating these problems. By enabling rapid application delivery with minimal hand-coding and drag-and-drop editors with visual development tools, they eliminate the need for time-consuming months-long deployments. The real advantage comes from the fact that non-techie staff can develop apps. Often they are working closely with end users, becoming so-called “citizen developers” or power users.

Today, citizen developers are building departmental, enterprise, and even public applications using shared services, fourth-generation language (4GL)-style development platforms, and cloud computing services.

With IT departments stretched to the max, utilising low-code platforms for getting things done can be a relief. As a result, all the technical staff needs to do is implement customised backend integration or complex business logic.

Moving forward

Software is powering the world, and low-code development is the single most disruptive force in application development today. Siemens’ acquisition of Mendix and the multimillion pound investment in OutSystems reinforces this point.

With organisations pursuing transformation, it is important to recognise that low-code is a viable measure for solving the challenges of transformation. Industries such as healthcare, public sector, manufacturing and retail are already benefiting from adopting low-code to meet these challenges. Therefore, as the global low-code development platform market size grows from $4.32 billion in 2017 to the predicted $27.23 billion by 2022, low-code is mainstream and here to stay.

Nominations are now open for the Women in IT Awards Ireland and Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley. Nominate yourself, a colleague or someone in your network now! The Women in IT Awards Series – organised by Information Age – aims to tackle this issue and redress the gender imbalance, by showcasing the achievements of women in the sector and identifying new role models

Avatar photo

Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

Related Topics