Unpacking the potential of low-code/no-code platforms

Imagine you’re a fashion retailer aiming to expand your product offerings to more potential customers by building your own mobile app. The problem is that your IT team is busy handling other critical tasks, lacking the manpower to build these apps.

Transferring app development tasks to non-technical employees might help alleviate the IT team’s burden. However, without coding expertise, they are ill-equipped to assume the app development role. Moreover, delving into coding falls outside their primary responsibilities, potentially diverting their focus from core duties.

One potential solution for empowering non-technical staff to create their services is the adoption of low-code/no-code platforms. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that not all low-code/no-code platforms are of the same calibre. Business leaders and IT departments must scrutinise the features of these platforms to ensure they deliver outstanding services that align with customer expectations.

Peering behind low-code and no-code technologies

Pro-code technologies were the preferred approach for IT teams to develop applications that required complex policies and integrations. These methods depended on the prior knowledge of programming languages such as JavaScript, C#, and Python, enabling developers to build apps from scratch.

However, the constant need to innovate and adapt to market developments so that businesses can stay ahead of the competition has led to increased pressure on organisations to deliver more custom apps. According to Gartner, market demand for mobile apps is expected to exceed IT teams’ capacities to deliver them fivefold. Low-code/no-code technologies can assist teams with different technical skill levels in constructing their own apps through the use of pre-built components and drag-and-drop interfaces. These technologies can speed up app development time from months and weeks to days and hours.

Separating truth from hype

Given the capabilities of low-code/no-code technologies, it is understandable that some organisations might be keen to adopt this technology within their operations. However, before buying into the hype, it is important that organisations understand the facts behind low-code/no-code technologies. This clarity will aid in making informed decisions regarding the acquisition of suitable platforms and the formulation of effective adoption strategies.

Faster time to value

Low-code and no-code platforms typically offer between 60% and 90% of pre-built components alongside visual drag-and-drop editors. These capabilities enable users with minimal or no coding knowledge to swiftly and easily build business apps. Consequently, organisations can reduce both the time to market (TTM) and the time to value (TTV).

Merely integrating low-code/no-code platforms into operations does not guarantee scalability of app development across non-technical teams. When selecting low-code/no-code solutions, it’s essential for organisations to opt for those that facilitate rapid app creation, thereby aligning with current business demands.

Banishing shadow IT

Integrating low-code/no-code technologies into technology stacks can diminish the reliance on shadow IT by providing users with approved platforms for creating their solutions.

Adopting new solutions, including low-code/no-code platforms, poses challenges, particularly when employees are accustomed to conventional app development methods. Moreover, democratising app development could inadvertently promote the use of shadow IT rather than curtail it, if the adoption of low-code/no-code technologies is not carefully managed.

Addressing this issue requires organisations to establish governance frameworks that ensure app development adheres to cybersecurity and IT policies. Choosing a low-code/no-code platform equipped with a strong governance layer is also crucial.

Encouraging citizen development

Low-code/no-code platforms offer an opportunity for business employees to become citizen developers, thereby alleviating the workload on overburdened IT teams and allowing them to concentrate on technical challenges and managing IT backlogs.

Despite the accessibility of low-code/no-code platforms, it is unrealistic to expect business employees to churn out hundreds of apps daily. Additionally, certain tasks could benefit from the expertise of IT teams, such as managing permissions and optimising application performance. What is needed is a co-development strategy, where business users focus on building processes and apps, while IT teams handle integrations to ensure smooth app functionality.

Integrating AI in development

In Singapore, a Microsoft report revealed that 81% of employees are eager to delegate as much of their work as possible to AI to reduce their workloads. Within the realm of app development, AI can serve as a supportive tool for employees, enhancing their ability to fully utilise low-code platforms. For instance, generative AI can provide suggestions for new data fields aligned with the workflow users aim to create.

However, while AI can streamline the app development process, some tools may lack the necessary security features to safeguard against cyberthreats. Poor management of the integration process could expose employees to risks and foster a greater dependency on shadow IT tools. When selecting low-code/no-code platforms, IT teams must balance business requirements with the security capabilities of each solution.

All for one with multiplatform

Each low-code/no-code platform offers different sets of capabilities that can suit specific needs. Rather than purchasing them separately, organisations can instead incorporate multiplatform software. Certain platforms that improve the productivity of the IT developers, while others facilitate application creation by business users. Both types are essential for achieving extensive digital transformation.

Selecting the appropriate solution requires organisations to sit down and evaluate their needs carefully. This evaluation should cover whether the solution is exclusively low-code/no-code or evolving towards it, the speed at which teams can adapt to the platform’s features, and its scalability. By doing so, employees will be equipped to provide services that meet customer expectations.

Low-code/no-code platforms can be a boon for employees keen on developing effective services and IT teams burdened with managing backlogs and technical challenges. Yet, given the varied capabilities and security features of these platforms, organisations must thoughtfully consider their objectives and devise governance strategies for low-code/no-code usage. These considerations are crucial for organisations aiming to meet customer needs with minimal risk.