Any organization that is even remotely digital is likely to have a few applications and processes that manage business needs. These could be standard applications that they might avail from product companies such as Oracle, Microsoft etc. It may also be applications that are built internally and customized to specific business needs within the organization.
So, where does Low-code exactly feature in the scheme of things?
The current era of digitization requires businesses to try, test, pivot and ‘go-to-market’ fast. Hence, applications must be conceptualized and created very quickly. This latent need has led to the emergence of low-code platforms. It enables community developers (non-IT users within the organization) to build applications fast, test it and launch it without having to go through the rigmarole of the waterfall model of development of applications or even the more contemporary ‘agile’ method of development.
Low-code is a sure method to reduce time to market, accelerate development and deployment of applications and derive immediate results that business users seek today.
Is it as seamless? What could be the issues with it?
Since the development of many custom applications may also be done by community developers, it might lead to a few unwanted situations. Firstly, if they do not integrate it well with the other systems which the applications interact with, it might put data at risk.
Secondly, unless these apps go through a robust testing and quality assurance cycle, they are likely to have bugs or errors which can transcend across and can defeat the very purpose for which the application was built using a low-code platform.
That’s exactly where low-code fits in.
With a single low-code platform implemented across the organization, it facilitates the IT teams with top-level visibility on each such application built by non-IT business users. This may help them to have a better view of the issues that arise with such development done in-house. With low-code platforms, they can immediately take remedial action when required and ensure that the risks discussed above are mitigated or minimized.
With low-code platforms being available, it is easy for the IT teams to train the entire organization on one platform. With low-code development platforms now being developed by all leading cloud providers, it is easier to train all business users on a single low-code platform. What’s more, with the leading cloud providers creating such platforms, business users will have readily available knowledge and artefacts about the platform at their disposal. It will essentially help to leverage the best of low-code platforms while minimizing issues or risks.
So, what exactly is a low-code platform?
Low code platforms are tools which enable you to get rid of coding complexities and enable business users to create solutions or applications to address immediate requirements in a cost-effective manner. We can think of it being similar to Excel spreadsheets which enables users to slice and dice information and create visually appealing dashboards and reports with minimum coding knowledge.
Features of Low-Code Platforms
Low-code platforms provide features which enable the users who lack programming skills to create applications fast. The features that aid such development include:
Drag and Drop Modules: With low-code platforms, users can drag and drop interfaces and create applications in a jiffy.
Visual Modelling: The visual model enables community developers, who are not well-versed with coding languages, to create processes, applications, simulations, models, reports etc. seamlessly.
Scalability and Security: With specialized players in the low code development space such as Mendix and Outsystems as well as the top global cloud providers creating their own low-code platforms, the scalability and security aspects are taken care of. With enterprise level licenses, low-code platforms will also offer uptime guarantees and automated back-ups.
Low-code platforms can be used for three key purposes:
- Designing an immersive user experience (UI) for applications
- Securely connecting and integrating with other enterprise applications and source systems to ensure seamless movement of data across applications
- Adding value to the existing processes to ensure robustness. These may include automation tools/ RPA tools and machine learning algorithms that enable to add value to data and processes.
Low-code platforms are here to stay. You may have heard of Fintech, EdTech, InsurTech, etc. Every industry is getting disrupted at its core and technology is heralding this disruption. Hence, the demand for ‘Low-code’ platforms wherein technology is leveraged to re-imagine/ recreate applications, systems, and processes is highly likely to surge. It must not come as a surprise then that the global low-code development platform market size is projected to grow from USD 13.2 billion in 2020 to USD 45.5 billion by 2025.
Will it alter traditional application development? Well, your guess is as good as mine but here is a list of questions that you might want to consider before finalizing your answer:
- Will the patience to wait through an entire application development cycle reduce drastically?
- Will there be more non-IT users who would want to create applications and pilot and test it faster?
- Would there be a requirement to create more applications on web/ mobile dynamically?
- Would we think of creating applications to leverage technology for even the smallest business needs?
If the answer to the above is in the ‘affirmative’, then we may have to brace ourselves for a huge disruption in the way applications are traditionally developed and maintained.