Written by Philip Van Puyvelde
Low code development is already impacting many businesses directly and will change the (business) world in years to come.
Low code platforms allow anyone to write software using a drag-and-drop interface by translating these actions into pre-written or automatically generated code. Although there are quite some non-believers, we already see today that low code development is becoming a more substantial digital shift than many might have initially assumed.
3 Pertinent Questions
To illustrate the impact of low code, let's look at three pertinent questions.
What would be the impact if developers could learn their trade faster and create more value?
The impact on your company – or your IT department – is clear. Low code applications allow beginning developers to create meaningful output while learning more complicated code and structures in the process. Even tech-savvy profiles, which are not developers, can learn to code and, in time, become proper developers while working on low code applications, providing a concrete output and thus real business value.
This leads us to the second question, with a surprising result:
How would the world change if the cost and speed of IT development were substantially reduced?
Imagine that companies could develop IT systems for a fraction of the price. Assuming companies would increase the number of processes supported with applications and digital functionalities is reasonable. The gains for the business world seem straightforward: More efficient output with fewer costs.
When thinking about speed, however, the result is different. For all the talk of agile companies, often businesses are still slow to change, and understandably so. It takes a lot of time and work to change processes, habits and IT systems before a company can embark on a different course. Arguably, even the IT systems, notoriously slow to adapt, hamper true agility the most. This is the reason the "agile methodology" was born.
So, increasing the speed of change (agility) will become a competitive advantage. This advantage grows exponentially the more unstable the environment in which a company operates. Low code development increases the speed of change required to survive.
What would the world look like if everyone was able to code?
Imagine a developer who perfectly understands the business requirements and can seamlessly anticipate business users' problems and issues. Business analysts might not like this reasoning since they would no longer be needed. Still, when line-of-business people can design an application, the feedback loop is smaller, and there is less chance of errors getting lost in (technical) translation. This do-it-yourself workforce could be complemented by professional developers who can perform harder, more complex tasks or act as teachers whenever questions arise. This sounds even more appealing for companies already struggling to find talented technical profiles.
Low code still has some challenges
Low code is sometimes called a “toy” or a “plaything” by experienced developers, but in reality, IT only exists to support business. Applications don’t need to be and never have been perfect. Think of the many bugs, crashes or missing features non-low code applications display. As long as the tool helps users perform a task, it is a useful addition.
Nevertheless, depending on the tasks’ importance and complexity, a company might be better off choosing other technologies. Low code applications are indeed often best kept small and not too complex. This doesn’t mean you can’t create large and complex systems, but rather that a modular approach works best. This keeps the functionalities straightforward, the (inevitable) custom code manageable, and the components interchangeable.
This is exactly how we recently freed a client of an enormous, inefficient, but seemingly unreplaceable core application – by meticulously mapping out and creating an ecosystem of connected applications, each taking over one of the core functionalities, allowing fast development and maintainability while not giving in on functionality.
As has always been the case in the technology industry, the important part is knowing what technology to use in what situation. Discounting low code platforms altogether would be a mistake for any business.
There have always been layers to coding – some engineers code processors or network connections, while others code the business software that runs on them. Soon there will be a new layer of IT opening up to a broader audience that allows moving forward faster and cheaper.
If you are interested in hearing more about how we tackled low code implementation projects at clients or if you have any questions on how to get started, reach out to Philip Van Puyvelde or Sven Van Hoorebeeck.