Summary: For the modern IT department, speed is the name of the game. The business demands new solutions faster than ever. The problem is, IT is already overworked. How can they quickly deliver the applications the business needs, without expanding their team? Today, we explore the concept of low-code development, and explain how it helps businesses solve this problem (and more).
What are the biggest application development challenges you face in your business? While the answers will vary based on your business, I find that organizations these days increasingly face two common challenges:
The need for speed: As technology plays an increasingly important part of the business, speed becomes essential. The business demands new solutions faster than ever. The problem is, IT departments are bogged down with development requests–creating a development bottleneck.
The talent gap: As new technologies emerge, the talent gap widens. Business leaders demand new technologies, but the IT department doesn’t have the skills to meet those demands. To make matters worse, the business can’t afford to bring on new talent.
These challenges lead to IT departments that can’t meet business demands. What happens? When IT can’t meet their needs, the business starts seeking out their own solutions. This problem–known as ‘Shadow IT’–is growing rapidly in companies across the globe.
So, what’s the answer to these two challenges? How can your business address the speed and talent issues, while avoiding Shadow IT?
Today, let’s focus on an increasingly popular solution known as “low code development.” What is it? As defined by Forrester Research, “A low-code platform is one that enables fast application development and delivery with a minimum of hand coding.”
In a growing trend, more businesses are adopting low code platforms as a way to accelerate development, and offload some development tasks to business users. Forrester calls the Low Code market a “high growth” area, and predicts it will grow to over $10 Billion in 2019.
Why are low code platforms growing so quickly, and how can they help you? Today, we’ll uncover a few ways that low code software is helping other businesses, and the benefits it offers your company.
1. Development Speed
Speed is the biggest (and most obvious) benefit of the low-code approach. With a low-code platform, developers can create new applications in hours or days, rather than weeks or months.
Also, simple development tasks (like reporting) can be pushed off to the business. Rather than waiting around on IT to develop their reports, business users can create them on their own.
Forrester Research sums up the benefits nicely, in their report on low-code platforms: “Hand-coding is too slow to develop and deliver many of the applications that companies use to win, serve, and retain customers. Some firms are turning to new, “low-code” application platforms that accelerate app delivery by dramatically reducing the amount of hand-coding required. Faster delivery is the primary benefit of these application platforms; they also help firms respond more quickly to customer feedback after initial software releases and provision mobile and multichannel apps.”
2. Improves IT productivity (without expanding the team)
Generally speaking, development projects go through the IT department. However, they also handle reporting, hardware, the company network, and more.
As a result, they’re stuck in a no-win situation: They can’t dedicate all of their resources to completing development projects, and the business can’t afford to hire new staff.
How do low-code development tools help? While they do improve development speed (as mentioned above), they also help IT departments offload some development projects to the business. They let the business users create basic applications without coding.
The result: Taking the small development projects off of their plate will create hours (or days) of time every week. This frees up the IT department to focus on more mission-critical tasks.
3. Fights Shadow IT
As mentioned above, Shadow IT is a growing problem. When business users don’t get the solutions they need from the IT department, they search for their own solutions. With the rise of easily available SaaS options, these solutions aren’t hard to find.
How can IT give the users the solutions they need without compromising security?
That’s where low-code development platforms come into play. They give users the ability to create their own solutions, while letting IT control the data and user access.
“Low-code development tools have finally reached a point where the average business user can create their own applications without bothering IT,” explains Tyler Wassell, Software Development Manager at mrc. “This trend is set to explode in the coming years, as it gives both parties what they want. Business users get the solutions they need, and the IT department doesn’t need to worry about users going behind their backs and licensing third party solutions.”
4. Keeps you current with new trends
Application development has evolved dramatically over the past few years. New languages and frameworks have emerged. Mobile devices have fundamentally changed application development. The modern developer must have a variety of skills–and stay ahead of the ever-changing tech trends.
The problem: This is no easy task. In many cases, the development team is already overworked. They have more projects than they can handle, and don’t have time to keep current with the latest trends. They’re barely keeping their head above water as it is.
Low-code development platforms offer a simple solution. In many cases, they can bridge this skills gap–giving developers modern capabilities. As explained below, mobile is a great example. Low code tools let developers build for all platforms, without the need to learn about mobile development.
“The expertise to stay current and compatible with the latest browsers and mobile operating systems can be daunting,” says Rachel Batish, co-founder and CRO of Zuznow. “To ensure a consistent user experience, organizations can leverage low/no-code platforms to augment existing development resources.”
5. Reduces project failure
In the past, application development projects took a “waterfall” approach. Developers gathered requirements from the users, and then built the entire application to fit those requirements.
The problems with this method: Speed and communication. The project often took weeks or months to complete. During that time, the there was little or no communication between developers and users.
What happened? The finished application didn’t always meet the user’s requirements or expectations. Why? Maybe the users didn’t clearly communicate their requirements. Or, maybe the developers misunderstood the user’s goals.
Low-code tools help avoid these problems, as they help developers create applications (or prototypes of applications) much faster. As explained below, a developer can quickly mock up an application and get user feedback before dedicating weeks of time to development.
“Low-code development environments are well suited to building the Graphical User Interface (UI) of an application through a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor where you can drag-and-drop UI element onto a screen,” says Nic Grange, CTO of Retriever Communications. “The importance of using such a tool is that you can get early and regular feedback from end users. They also usually allow you to quickly iterate without having to build the entire application.”
These are just 5 benefits of low code development platforms, but the list could certainly be longer. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.