Perhaps no C-level position has undergone such enormous change in the last ten years as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) position. These days, modern CIOs face pressure from every side. For instance:

  • CEOs and business executives now demand more business value from the IT department. The CIO must drive business innovation while managing and improving existing technology.
  • Tech-savvy end users now bring personal devices and consumer applications into the workplace. The CIO must deliver the tools and applications the users require while managing and securing the company’s data.
  • Technology evolves at a quickening pace and the expectations placed on the IT department are at an all-time high. While the business demands modern solutions, hiring IT professionals with modern skills often falls outside of the budget.

How can CIOs address these issues?

In this paper, you’ll learn how low-code development platforms will help modern CIOs address some of the most common challenges they face today. You’ll learn how they help CIOs:

Before we explain each point, let’s quickly explain low-code development, and low-code development platforms in general.

What is a low-code development platform?

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. According to Forrester, the low-code platform market is growing at a 50% annual rate.

What is a low-code platform? 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 this short guide, you’ll learn why low-code development is growing so quickly, and how it solves each of the strategic issues listed above.

1. Balance agility with stability

Balance agility with stability

For many years, CIOs have focused their efforts on stability. They kept the business technology running smoothly.

Now, business leaders also demand agility from their CIOs. Not only must IT departments keep the business running, they must deliver business solutions quickly.

Gartner recently introduced a new model for enterprise IT that addresses this growing need, called “Bimodal IT.”

According to Gartner’s definition: "Bimodal IT refers to having two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information and technology-intensive services in its own way. Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is non-sequential, emphasizing agility and speed."

The question is: How can modern CIOs combine these two concepts? How can they deliver solutions quickly while maintaining business stability?

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms automate much of the web (and mobile web) application development process, helping IT departments deliver solutions faster. They improve overall IT speed in three important ways:

  1. Eliminates coding: Using a point-and-click interface, low-code platforms let developers create most applications without writing code.
  2. Reduces testing: Low-code platforms generate applications using a standard build process and pre-tested components. This cuts down on errors and reduces testing.
  3. Simplifies Maintenance: Low-code platforms let developers maintain and enhance their applications easily. Developers can either update their applications through the interface, or customize the underlying application code itself.

2. Break free from technical debt

Many CIOs face a similar problem: Their business runs on a hodgepodge of applications that they can’t replace.

These applications are so heavily modified and intertwined, they’re hard to maintain. Changing one area might very well impact many others.

Since maintaining these applications is so difficult and time consuming, it slows the business down. IT can’t move quickly, and they can’t adapt to changing technology.

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms offer two solutions for businesses dealing with technical debt.

  • Complete Replacement
    One solution: Rebuild your applications from the ground up. While this is typically the most time consuming and difficult approach low-code platforms simplify the process. Because they reduce development time so dramatically, low-code platforms help businesses replace their legacy applications in a fraction of the time.
  • Extend and Surround
    Of course, some companies don’t have the option to completely replace their existing applications. They’re locked into their legacy systems.

    Enterprise-class low-code platforms can build modern applications over existing enterprise software. This doesn’t add a new piece of software or a new layer of complexity to the existing system. Rather, it integrates open standards and new features with the technology the business already uses. In short, these low-code platforms integrate with existing systems, without altering the system itself.

3. Give end users self-service options

In the past, the IT department controlled technology because it was scarce, and difficult for business users to obtain and use.

Those days are gone. With the rise of consumer software and devices, end users now have alternatives. If IT departments do not meet the user’s needs, end users bypass IT altogether, opting for readily available third-party, Software as a Service (SaaS) options.

These days, CIOs must deliver solutions the business users need, or risk being bypassed. It’s no small challenge: IT Departments must not only give the business users the self-service options they require, they must also maintain control over the company data and systems.

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms give CIOs a company-wide application development and management platform. They let the IT department control the data, rights, and user access. At the same time, a low-code platform gives end users a simple, point-and-click interface to create all of the applications they need, like reporting, BI, data retrieval, process work flows, mobile apps, and custom apps in general.

Low-code development platforms give each side what they need: Business users create the applications they need without bypassing the IT department, while IT ultimately controls data and user access.

4. Balance data accessibility with security

Balance security with accessibility

In the past, data was stored in-house, and locked down. IT controlled data access.

These days, that’s changing. Employee-owned mobile devices have infiltrated the workplace. We’ve entered a mobile world, where employees expect data access from anywhere, on any device.

But, granting unlimited data access to every employee is a security nightmare.

How can CIOs secure their data while delivering the accessibility required by a mobile workforce?

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms let the IT department lock down the company data, while controlling device and user access. They create mobile web apps that employees can access from any device, while maintaining full control over the company’s data.

With mobile web applications, users access data using their own devices, without storing any data on the device itself. Since mobile web apps don’t store data on the device itself, a lost/stolen phone doesn’t present a security risk. The company’s data resides securely on the server, under the IT department’s control.

Low-code platforms provide both accessibility and security: Employees use their own devices, while the company controls the data.

5. Provide a single experience across multiple platforms

The web has moved beyond the confines of the PC. Employees and customers use an ever-growing array of devices.

When a prospect/customer visits your website, you can’t control which device they’ll use.

Modern websites and web applications must account for this new reality. They must deliver the same experience across all platforms.

How can CIOs not only mobilize existing applications, but also develop a cross-platform mobile strategy for all new application development going forward?

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms meet this demand using responsive design. They build applications that adapt to any device automatically. A single application will resize itself to fit any device or screen size. In this way, CIOs can automatically meet the demand for mobile access.

As mentioned above, security is an added bonus with this method. Because the platform creates mobile web apps, data isn't stored on the user's device. CIOs can meet the mobile demands while ensuring that their data is secure.

6. Bridge the skills gap

Research firm Gartner reports that "by 2020, 75 percent of organizations will experience visible business disruptions due to [infrastructure and operations] skills gaps, which is an increase from less than 20 percent in 2016." As technology evolves at breakneck speed, the IT skills gap is widening. Businesses are having more and more trouble finding IT pros with the modern skills they require--and the problem is only growing worse.

The challenge: Modern CIOs must address this skills gap while staying current with the ever-changing tech trends. After all, your business won’t stop and wait while you fix the skills gap. The competition won’t take a timeout while you search for modern skills. You must bridge the IT skills gap while operating at full speed.

How can companies deal with the shortage of qualified IT pros and developers? Outside of outsourcing everything or bringing in high-priced consultants, how can your company bridge this growing skills gap while remaining competitive?

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms help CIOs bridge the skills gap in a unique way: They bring modern skills to their existing staff. They let users build well-architected, secure, cloud-ready, and mobile-ready web applications without any knowledge of modern web application development. For the CIO, this helps in two important ways:

  1. No need to constantly train developers: With the constant evolution of development standards and programming paradigms, developers could feasibly spend half of their time learning new skills. Low-code platforms bring modern skills to these developers, letting them instead focus on solving business problems.
  2. No need to teach new employees about the business: Bringing in new employees with modern skills (temporarily) solves the skills gap, but creates a new issue: These new employees must now learn the business. Getting a new employee up and running often takes months. On the other hand, low-code platforms bring modern skills to employees who already understand the business, eliminating the issue.

7. Capitalize on data

Businesses generate (and have access to) more data than ever before. But, is all of this data helping?

According to Reuters "Dying for Business" report, "One-third of managers are victims of ‘Information Fatigue Syndrome.’ 49% said they are unable to handle the vast amounts of information received. 43% think that important decisions are delayed and their abilities to make decisions are affected as a result of having too much information."

Modern CIOs face a daunting challenge: How can they capitalize on their data?

CIOs must make their ever-expanding data easily accessible to decision-makers and end users. How can IT departments turn their data into real-time, meaningful management information?

How does low-code development help?

Traditionally, reporting processes went through a single department (like the IT department). End users would often wait days for their requested reports.

Low-code platforms simplify this process, and bring self-service data exploration to end users. They let business users create reports, business intelligence applications, and dashboards without coding.

This helps the business in two ways: It removes the reporting burden from the IT department, and lets end users access real-time data whenever they need.

8. Shift from maintenance to innovation


Modern CIOs face a challenge: They must drive business growth and innovation, while keeping the business’ technology up and running. The problem: Many are stuck spending 70% - 80% of their budget supporting and maintaining existing systems.

If they hope to succeed, modern CIOs must shift a big chunk of their budgets into growth initiatives--IT projects and programs that open new markets and drive new business rather than just maintain the status quo.

However, this isn't possible if the IT department spends 80% of its funds just keeping the lights on.

CIOs must figure out how to shift their focus from maintenance to innovation, despite limited staff and budget.

How does low-code development help?

Low-code platforms help CIOs shift from maintenance to innovation in two ways:

  1. Saves time: They eliminate many of the tedious, time-consuming tasks that slow down IT departments, like coding, testing, and maintaining applications. Instead, they let IT departments focus their time and energy into innovation and solving business problems.
  2. Delivers constant enhancements: Most low-code development are constantly evolving. The company behind that platform keeps it up to date with the latest technology and capabilities. This gives CIOs the tools they need to provide the business with cutting-edge solutions.

9. Future-proof their architecture

As cloud-based services mature and new databases and platforms spring up, modern CIOs need fresh thinking about their application architecture. Modern application architecture requires a radically different approach than the application architecture of just 5 years ago.

Modern application architecture must prepare a company for any scenario. It must be portable, secure, and database/platform independent. It must give a company freedom to deploy anywhere--on premise or in the cloud.

Regardless of their current plans for the cloud, modern CIOs cannot ignore flexible application architecture. They must focus on creating future-proof applications that won’t hold their company back.

How does low-code development help?

Future-proof architecture

An enterprise-class low-code platform insulates CIOs from application architecture concerns. As illustrated below, tools like the m-Power development platform builds multi-tenant, cloud-ready applications that prepare businesses for both the present and the future. These open applications provide complete flexibility because they aren't tied to any platform or database.

Low-code platforms provide freedom from application architecture concerns. Deploy the applications in-house, on the cloud, or use a combination of the two. They offer complete flexibility.

Executive Summary

The modern CIO faces a unique, and ever-changing set of challenges. They must both address the current IT needs of the business and plan for future growth—all while constantly adjusting that plan as technology evolves.

What’s more, as technology becomes an increasingly important aspect of business, the pressure on the CIO increases. CEOs now demand more from their IT departments, end users now demand more self-service options, and consumer devices and applications now threaten data security. On top of that, technology now evolves so rapidly, delivering modern business solutions becomes near-impossible with the CIO’s current resources.

All in all, the modern-day CIO faces a unique set of strategic challenges unlike any other C-Level Executive. The modern CIO must:

  • Balance agility with stability
  • Break free from technical debt
  • Give end users self-service options
  • Balance data accessibility with security
  • Provide a single experience across multiple platforms
  • Bridge the skills gap
  • Capitalize on expanding data
  • Shift from maintenance to innovation
  • Future-proof their architecture

With relatively flat IT budgets, how can CIOs address these challenges and prepare their company for future trends? The answer for many lies in low-code development platforms.

About mrc

Michaels, ross & cole, ltd. (mrc) is a global software company which specializes in web application development software. Headquartered in Oak Brook, IL, and established in 1981, mrc has offices in the U.S. and the UK. mrc offers award-winning development software, as well as consulting, mentoring, and training services.

mrc’s low-code development platform, m-Power, automates web and mobile web application development. Used across all industries and company sizes, m-Power lets anyone create web apps without coding. m-Power creates all types of web applications such as report-writing, Business Intelligence, executive dashboards, ecommerce, customer portals, and mobile applications to name a few.

If you’d like to learn more about m-Power, you can visit our website at To see a guided tour of m-Power, simply complete this form. One of our product consultants will give you a personalized tour of m-Power and answer any questions you may have.

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