Digital transformation brings new opportunities for organizations to accelerate their business offerings. Despite the digitization, IT departments are faced with a shortage of capable software engineers to handle new technology demands. This challenge requires an alternative to traditional software development, one that involves more stakeholders than just technical teams.
The latest trend in software development is low-code software, a trend disrupting software products and the way enterprises use those products within the enterprise software space.
What is low-code software?
Low-code software is exactly what it sounds like: software that requires very little coding knowledge—if any—to use. The Wharton School defines it as software that aims “to enable businesses to keep up in a rapidly changing technology landscape by enabling software development with little or no coding.”
Low-code software empowers employees across departments at organizations to solve problems and design solutions without relying on IT. By letting personnel address department needs directly, technical teams are free to focus on their business-critical tasks. This makes a tremendous difference in helping organizations work as effectively as possible.
Since many IT departments are struggling to find and retain software engineers, low-code software is only natural in the evolution of technology. Coding knowledge can take years to master, but low-code solutions empower to rapidly build and deploy applications for the enterprise at scale As a result, enterprises can save money, time, and other valuable resources and reach their full potential.
Allowing nontechnical personnel to be part of the application development process gives us a nod to the future. What will the worlds of business and software look like once low-code has become industry standard across the board and widely adopted?
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The rise of the “citizen developer”
Red Hat defines a citizen developer as “an individual outside of the IT department who constructs business applications, but these applications remain within the guardrails established by IT.”
The pro of being a nontechnical stakeholder that builds IT solutions is the ability to understand the enterprise’s needs, constraints, and growth strategy from a business perspective. Too often, development and the people selling or marketing the product aren’t always on the same page. The language barrier of deep tech speak creates a divide that low-code can close.
While a citizen developer may not hold any expertise in software engineering, they can provide invaluable feedback to front-end development. By being a business user first and a citizen developer second can ensure the user interface (UI) really is easy to understand for nontechnical stakeholders. There is no replacement for a designer, but citizen developers can act as powerful liaisons between development and design.
Research shows the citizen developer trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. A survey of 324 executives by Information Today finds 76 percent indicate that at least some portion of their applications were already developed outside of their traditional IT department or IT service.
It’s safe to say we can only anticipate more innovation in this area due to the many positives low-code brings to enterprises, employees, and customers alike.
Low-code bridges the gap
The tech world is facing a very real problem. Developers are in high demand, but there isn’t enough qualified talent to fill positions. According to The Software Guild, there are nearly 3 million more STEM jobs than available professionals. Fortunately, low-code software can help fix this pervasive industry problem. Allowing more employees to get involved in development despite the lack of traditional software background has allowed companies to lower costs and deliver useful apps faster. This frees up IT department staff to focus on tasks like security, strategy, and governance.
Due to its ease of use, low-code’s constant stream of feedback helps to maximize efficiency in the app development process. The time spent communicating from development teams to other departments becomes non-existent thanks to these employees designing solutions without the reliance of IT support.
Often times, IT is weak in areas that help with the daily grind most employees experience, and only offer support in strictly technical scenarios. But who knows the day-to-day better than the employee? Low-code empowers nontechnical personnel to stop waiting for their engineers to solve internal issues, instead of tackling their problems on their own.
By granting software capabilities to business users, enterprises using low-code apps have been able to create solutions faster with greater usability than ever before.
Another beauty of low-code is its time-saving aspect for It departments. With so many requests for new apps and processes, IT can fall behind a backlog of projects to tackle. Delegating the app design work to more people lightens the load on IT, allowing technical teams to focus their time and attention on projects that will move the business forward.
On the client-side, low-code applications have resulted in greater customer satisfaction. A successful application can lead to better service and product deliveries, create faster customer response times and help businesses stay competitive in their markets. Low-code can be used to create apps for clients, creating a new way to further engage customers.
It’s an exciting time in software. Yet despite the innovation happening, not everyone is on board with adopting low-code.
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Low-code changes the enterprise landscape
While business users, customers, and other nontechnical stakeholders are enjoying the power of low-code, others remain concerned. What happens when every employee in an organization suddenly has the ability to create powerful enterprise software solutions? Push back is inevitable here.
For one, consultants could be out of a job. Over the last 20 years, MBAs thought leaders, and other technical experts have flocked to large companies who lack the agility and flexibility of startups. The larger and older the company, the more opportunity to innovate and improve. Even incremental change, however glacial, is monumental in bureaucratic corporate America. This means millions in the pockets of C2C corporate innovation specialists.
When internal employees can suddenly build solutions that normally are contracted out to consultants, this threatens the very function of consulting.
For IT departments, the push back is strong. According to Jason Bloomberg in an article for Forbes, low-code has the potential to threaten IT credibility. “After all, IT has been telling business stakeholders for years that the six month/million dollar plan is the only way to build enterprise software,” he writes. Any citizen developer can tell you that today, that is no longer true.
Last but not least of the concerned: enterprise DevOps. These are the teams focusing heavily on heavy coding by hand. With low-code, the need to do so becomes obsolete. Many components in low-code or no-code software are specifically created to have reusable, flexible components to avoid the need to build processes from scratch.
Again, credibility seems to be at stake here, as one can start to wonder the point of DevOps with low-code in the picture. But as Intellyx reminds us, the whole essence of DevOps is “cooperation, and the key to cooperation is empathy… DevOps organizations favor and encourage the breaking down of organizational silos by fostering better human interactions among people who had previously fallen into different organizational units.”
In other words, pitting IT departments against knowledge workers building with low-code debunks the goal of DevOps altogether. That’s not exactly conducive to merging enterprise goals with the capabilities of software engineers.
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A look to the future
Low-code is massively disrupting the enterprise, bridging the gap between knowledge workers and developers to create business-focused, visually appealing, and intuitive applications more quickly than ever before.
Low-code empowers organizations to be truly agile by equipped employees with the ability to build software without the time constraint of learning deep coding knowledge. The result is more solutions and faster tailored to business strategy rather than the silos experienced between IT departments and nontechnical teams.
While low-code does threaten the current state and function of many consultants, DevOps teams, and IT departments, it doesn’t have to. Instead, businesses should adopt digital transformation with a positive attitude, staying true to their agile philosophies and adapt to the changing software landscape with more collaboration and optimism. Low-code is a reality that isn’t slowing down. As the world addresses the tech industry shortage, this type of software fills the gaps in a big way that can’t be ignored.
Low-code moves IT departments away from addressing simply internal inefficiencies and instead onto the customer. The result is a customer-centricity that wasn’t present before, making future development efforts more focused on customer needs and enterprise growth, rather than just product itself.
Perhaps the greatest takeaway here about low-code’s massive implications is the old saying, “It’s not about how you act, but how you react.” Innovation always brings change, meaning change is inevitable. It’s how we, as enterprises, adapt to the inevitable change that really determines our success in business.
Interested in integrating a low-code workflow solution into your own business? Learn more about our easy-to-use and deploy software at www.processmaker.com.
ProcessMaker is a low-code business process management and workflow software. ProcessMaker makes it easy for business analysts to collaborate with IT to automate complex business processes connecting people and existing company systems. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina in the United States, ProcessMaker has a partner network spread across 35 countries on five continents. Hundreds of commercial customers, including many Fortune 100 companies, rely on ProcessMaker to digitally transform their core business processes enabling faster decision making, improved compliance, and better performance.