Today organisations are looking for ways to drive process efficiencies, improve agility by adaption to changing business needs and deliver an exceptional employee & customer experience. The current pandemic has accelerated the need for this as businesses look to reinvent the way of working.
This has in turn put enormous pressure on IT departments to be able to deliver value for their business in quick timeframes. This increased demand coupled with the scarcity of talented developers has brought the rise of Citizen Developers who know the business processes and could develop fit to purpose apps or automation for their department to use.
According to Gartner “On average, 41% of employees outside of IT – or business technologists – customise or build data or technology solutions. Gartner predicts that half of all new low-code clients will come from business buyers that are outside the IT organisation by year-end 2025.”
Software providers like SAP have already started to double down on Low-Code/No-Code(LCNC) Strategy for Application Development and Process Automation[LG1] . With over 70% of the world’s transactions touching an SAP system, there are more than 230 million SAP Cloud application users worldwide. SAP is recognising the importance of empowering business users to close the skill gap and enable them as citizen developers.
With the increased demand and popularity of the LCNC topic, we are seeing many LCNC platforms emerging in the market and organisations are starting to prioritise and evaluate how these platforms would help them accelerate the delivery of apps and automation.
Despite its growth, many misconceptions around the LCNC topic are preventing organisations to take the first step.
Low-Code/No-Code platforms hinder collaboration
LCNC platforms provide an intuitive drag and drop visual interface for any business user to build apps. Like any initiative, having the right governance is crucial. If there is no governance, this would lead to each department installing its own LCNC tools and building apps on their own. Often this results in data silos and risks in security & compliance.
It’s important for IT leaders to partner and collaborate with different lines of businesses to set up the governance model and offer the right set of tools thereby enabling business users to build apps that meet the standards. Apart from setting up the governance, IT teams need to periodically supervise and provide support around integration/APIs for consumption in LCNC tools to ensure apps developed by business users are real-time and provide the single source of truth.
Low-Code/No-Code platforms do not offer enterprise-grade apps and are relevant for small departments
LCNC has evolved over the last few years. There are many platforms out there today which offer a sophisticated set of capabilities that can be used to build enterprise-grade apps. Many platforms offer reusable components which can be easily integrated to build complex applications that span across multiple solutions.
For example, you can build an IoT-enabled solution that monitors assets that are maintained in an SAP system and triggers service requests based on information in the CRM system.
Low-code tools provide no flexibility to customisation and locks you down
Contrary to this misconception, many advanced LCNC platforms do offer the ability to customise the apps. Often there is a need to embed reusable business logic and enhance the capabilities of the apps generated using LCNC platforms. These capabilities give more freedom for businesses to be able to rapidly build apps that are tailored for their requirements.
Portability is an important factor when it comes to selecting the right platform. One needs to select the right platform which enables access to the generated code and customize it before deploying elsewhere.
Low-Code/No-Code is only meant for Citizen Developers
LCNC platforms can be used for different skill levels. On one hand, we have Citizen developers who know the business domain and can use intuitive tools to create applications. On the other hand, we also see professional developers using LCNC tools to accelerate their application development.
As touched on in the previous point, often we see the need to extend and customise the output provided by LCNC tools.
This is where Citizen Developers work in collaboration with professional developers to enhance the application to meet the business requirements. Hence, Citizen developers, as well as professional developers, will end up using LCNC tools but for different purposes.
In conclusion, LCNC platforms play an important role in empowering both line-of-business users and IT developers to accelerate the development of apps and foster collaboration. There is no doubt that the topic of LCNC will continue to evolve rapidly in the coming years fuelling innovation and providing more agility for businesses to meet the changing customer demands.