What is low-code and why is it necessary for your business in 2020 and beyond? This guide will help you understand the basics.
What is your business and IT doing to embrace digital transformation? If the answer is not low-code, you may be missing your mark. Here is a look into why low-code is taking over business app development and promoting digital transformation, and why companies who are not using low-code yet are already falling behind.
Digital transformation is a need, not a want
Digital transformation has been a buzzword in the business world, and for good reason. Customers expect seamless experiences with companies they interact with, similar to the technologies they use in their day-to-day lives. Operations need to be more efficient than manual work can achieve, creating a need for new tech solutions in business process automation. This has made digital transformation go from a potential strategy idea to a mandatory goal for companies hoping to remain competitive in the future.
Digital transformation is easier said than done, however. CIOs need to shift their focus from tech management to projects that foster business growth and prepare for future innovation. The IT department’s backlog can double or triple with development projects while they spend upwards of 60% of their time maintaining the company’s existing IT infrastructure. And if you think expanding your IT department is the solution, you might have a hard time with that; the demand for IT experts heavily outweighs the market supply, and even if you succeed, you’re paying a substantial amount for a fraction of improvement. There are currently over 200,000 developer job openings in the U.S. alone, with only 30,000 graduates entering the workforce per year.
Entering the era of low-code
To work around this IT obstacle in the path of transformation, more and more companies are looking towards low-code technology. Low-code was recognized by Forrester in 2014, and defined as “platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.” Low-code uses drag-and-drop features and a visual interface to develop apps. Similar to Legos, users can connect pre-configured modules together using simple logic as the platform automatically generates the code for them. This visual method of app development is both significantly faster and easier than developing via coding, and practically anyone can do it without extensive training.
With its fast and easy development capabilities, high adoption rates and scalable cloud deployment, low-code technology quickly made its way up to one of the most popular topics in business technology. Organizations in nearly every industry from The Hershey Creamery Company to the Salvation Army have started to implement low-code platforms within their business to streamline workflows, automate processes, and optimize their operations.
The list of companies using low-code is ever-increasing as well: Gartner estimates that by 2024, 65% of business app development will be done via low-code. The low-code market was valued at $5.6 billion in 2018, and is expected to be worth $52.3 billion by 2024. Additionally, the global market growth of low-code from 2019 - 2024 will likely reach 45.2%.
The business pains low-code addresses
So why are all of these companies looking to low-code for their transformation needs? Because automation of work is a vital part of digital transformation. This means businesses need a lot of apps and solutions, which is exactly what low-code effectively addresses.
Traditionally speaking, app development usually involves IT, and IT has a limited ability to make apps. Hand-coding apps from scratch can be a lengthy process, and can take months or even years to fully develop and deploy. To make matters worse, IT departments generally already have a lot on their plate to attend to before they can begin these new projects. As the demand for new apps grows, so does the IT backlog. This is what creates an IT delivery gap. Companies that do not address this are essentially dooming themselves to painfully slow transformation initiatives, and are quickly left behind in the market by more innovative competitors.
Low-code solves this problem by turning regular end users into developers, formally known as “citizen developers,” who have no formal coding or software development skills. For businesses, this means any employee within the company – from HR to sales reps – can develop their own apps to automate their work. Despite the lack of coding used within the development process, citizen developers can use low-code platforms to create apps that are both scalable and complex with little to no IT involvement. This closes the IT gap, increases the speed in which apps can be developed, and accelerates digital transformation. In essence, low-code expands the number of potential developers a business has from the amount of IT experts to the total number of employees. With development at the forefront of innovation, any company of any industry can become a software company creating necessary business solutions on the fly.
How low-code accelerates digital transformation
Low-code platforms are not only useful for citizen developers: both IT and citizen developers can use it to create apps. While citizen developers relieve the professional developers of several tasks, IT departments can manage their own backlog of development tasks much faster with low-code. This is because low-code, as the name implies, can still involve coding. This means that when a development task comes along that is very large in scale or requires customization via hand-coding, experts can use the platform to do so without having to create the app from scratch. This results in both professional and citizen developers cooperating to cover the entire company’s development needs as a result.
Low-code platforms essentially take a business’s software development process and flips it on its head. Not only does it democratize the development process, it also speeds it up significantly. Using visual tools, anyone can automate their business ideas within minutes – not months. This in turn ensures that any company utilizing low-code is innovating constantly, keeping up with the ever-changing tech-oriented business landscape. Any process from employee onboarding to lead generation can be automated faster than ever before, fostering growth and digital transformation.
If your business does not have a digital transformation initiative, you may be risking your competitive edge throughout the 2020s. However, digitally transforming an entire company is easier said than done. IT departments can only develop so many new technologies within a given timeframe, and expanding an IT department to keep up with development demands is unrealistic. Low-code technology can alleviate this barrier to transformation by making every employee within your company a citizen developer, allowing them to automate their work faster and easier. Companies around the world have already started implementing low-code platforms and have experienced great success in doing so. Low-code is here to stay, and it is only going to become more important to digital transformation initiatives in the 2020s. So if your business wants to innovate, grow and transform in the coming decade, low-code may be the solution you’re looking for.