Low-code platforms let non-technical users (often referred to as citizen developers) build apps and processes without deep coding knowledge. Using drag-and-drop features, business process maps, automatic code generation, and other visual tools, low-code applications deliver an agile development environment without the complexity or time it takes for traditional coding.
The concept of low-code development was born in 2014 when the phrase was first coined, but its roots extend as far back as the 1990s. As it evolved, low-code morphed into the concept we know today.
Low-code offers a universe where applications can be deployed faster, user experience can be continuously revised, and IT backlogs can finally be reduced. It’s a universe full of potential, and, for forward-thinking businesses, one that they’ll want to engage with sooner rather than later.
Why is Low-Code on the Rise?
According to the 2019 Forrester report, the low-code market will hit an annual growth rate of 40%, with spending forecasted to hit $21.2 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “B”) by 2022. Even Gartner recognized low-code’s importance when it added a Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) category in 2019. Gartner estimates these systems will be used for a whopping 65% of all application development within the next five years.
So, why is the low-code model on the rise?
Perhaps two of the most pressing reasons have to do with deliverability and innovation. Recent studies revealed that up to 86% of IT’s time is spent simply maintaining current systems. That means the output of highly-customized, in-demand solutions are getting held up in the mix.
In a world where digital innovation plays a starring role in business growth, automation and speed can mean the difference between leaping ahead or falling dangerously behind.
Because low-code can make anyone a developer, features, apps, and processes can be created and modified by non-technical users for their own purposes. This is accomplished without putting all the pressure on IT to build, code, troubleshoot, and implement a solution. In addition, these non-technical users bring a fresh, unique perspective, which could lead to some innovative outcomes.
Low-code makes IT more productive by speeding up the development process to build applications in days instead of months. The agility of low-code platforms mean processes can be adapted easily, digital transformation can move ahead without complexity and slowdowns, and solutions can be deployed faster than before.
How Are Businesses Using Low-Code?
Low-code platforms fall into one of three categories: niche, ecosystem, and purpose-built. Niche low-code solutions are meant to be used for an exclusive business need. For example, you can use a niche low-code to build a simple application quickly, but you won’t have a lot of scalability to work with.
An ecosystem low-code solution is a larger software application, but it still limits the user to niche-like capabilities. This is because adding low-code in an ecosystem is meant as a value-add to the pre-existing capabilities, so it’s included only for a specified purpose.
Purpose-built low-code systems are architected specifically for custom application development, so they are undoubtedly the most dynamic and scalable version. These systems are excellent at evolving in different directions because they’re not constrained by the platform or forced to supplement with add-ons, plug-ins, or coding.
Companies are using all variations of low-code for purposes including:
- Business Process Management (BPM) and optimization
- Internal process & app development (ex: processes to improve HR or financial reporting)
- Customer facing app development
- Legacy app replacement
- Faster adoption of AI services
- Customer Experience (CX) improvements
- Unifying platforms and legacy systems
- Scaling to support high user and transaction volumes
- Meeting security standards
Low-Code in 2020 & Beyond
Make no mistake, low-code will be the new standard in 2020 and the years that follow. The demand for this technology will continue to boom as the competitive landscape becomes increasingly fierce. Efficiency, adaptability, and productivity of the entire organization will rely heavily on low-code, as marketing, sales, HR, finance departments, and others start to create and implement their own solutions.
Although low-code will empower these users, it’s also noteworthy to mention that IT departments will still play a vital role. The skills and talents of these individuals will still be necessary to support and build upon solutions, and to create multi-layered, complex, and code-heavy applications.
So, in theory, the low-code revolution may be a win-win for all — businesses save money by not having to constantly hire new developers or heavily invest in training non-technical users, non-technical users unload some of the burden from IT and proactively create their own solutions, and IT builds faster with greater agility and less frustration.
A word of caution to this tale: While transitioning to low-code is a savvy business move, the task must be approached thoughtfully. Make sure you understand the integrations available through the solution – do they fit well with other systems you already use? Do the feature sets offer what you need? How intuitive is the UI?
If you’re unsure how to answer these questions, or whether the solution you’re considering is right for your business, hire a software consultant to help you. They can pinpoint what you need and help you thoroughly assess your options before you purchase.