As software increasingly impacts our daily lives, a cohort of so-called “citizen developers” is quietly emerging, using simpler low and no code tools to innovate faster for businesses and governments.
Unlike traditional software development with complex training and code writing requirements, low and no code tools mean that people can create software with minimal or no code writing required. With smart user interfaces, people can develop software processes without having any programming knowledge, typically using drag and drop style methods.
Moving beyond simple websites and apps, these tools have also become available for enterprise software, enabling rapid development of solutions such as document handling automations. Following the lead of IT functions, which rapidly adopted these tools, teams company-wide are now using them to quickly respond to business needs in a low cost manner.
For example, organisations worldwide are already using SAP’s low and no code tools including app and automation development solutions available via SAP Business Technology Platform. Feedback from citizen developers has been overwhelmingly positive about how these tools are helping their companies become intelligent enterprises. For example, business process owners at any APJ-based utility company can create and introduce dynamic forms for inspection processes on an as-needed basis. Producing the forms themselves has eliminated redevelopment work from IT, reducing deployment time from months to days.
Low and no code drives rapid innovation
Whether disruptive or evolutionary, successful software innovation demands speed, meaning the ability to prototype and gain real world and user feedback quickly. Rather than relying on the availability (and associated cost) of dedicated software developers, teams using low and no code platforms can rapidly develop and iterate their ideas, gathering feedback and prototyping new concepts to run faster innovation cycles.
Traditional software development projects often require a substantial time investment to discover the practical implications of different processes or market needs. Software architects and developers spend hours, days, and weeks or more in workshops and other discussions to fully explore and understand potential use cases and solve specific business problems. With low and no code tools, subject matter experts, be they process owners or market strategists, can embed their knowledge across the software development process – from ideation through prototype iteration, solution delivery, and beyond.
Improving the employee experience
Employees are often asked to provide their insights on a given topic as part of a software solutioning exercise, but their involvement ends there – until the final system is implemented and scaled. By using low and no code technologies, employees can experience the satisfaction of developing a solution from idea to implementation, providing input and guidance to the design and implementation, which in turn provides a sense of accomplishment and boosts productivity.
Low and no code tools are proving even more valuable productivity-wise as more employees work remotely during the pandemic. Rather than waiting for IT resources to become available, citizen developers – wherever they’re located – can solve business process and customer problems as they arise, quickly accessing low and no code tools through cloud computing platforms.
More strategically, as companies continue their digital transformation journeys, more people have access to the tools necessary to transforms all aspects of a business through software. Rather than relying on only large, top-down transformation programs, they can take a grassroots approach, with employees developing and implementing solutions as required based on the processes, customers and legacy technology that they know best. Organisations can address governance and security by embedding policies into the low and no code platform, guiding employees as they design new software.
Low and no code tools support digital government services
The opportunity provided by low and no code to pivot from technology interaction to technology innovation also applies to the public sector. Citizen developers can create new solutions in their respective area of expertise or interest, while also meeting quality and security standards. The public sector can develop more useful apps faster. When people with the greatest amount of experience and understanding of processes design and develop software, the organization ends up with systems that address the most important challenges.
Coupled with initiatives such as open data sharing, citizens can quickly bring about the change they’d like to see in government digital services, combining previously hidden information sources and community needs to develop scalable solutions. For example, citizen developers can plug no code tools into SAP’s Data Marketplace to model different trends and correlations across private and public data sources.
In democratising software development beyond dedicated, specialised resources, low and no code tools are modernising not only how organisations operate daily, but also how industries will innovate for a stronger, more resilient future.
This article originally published on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes