For decades, there have been only two routes for businesses to take on their way to application development: buy apps ready-made from an externalvendor orbuildand customizethemfrom scratch using skilled developers and coders. But today, we’re seeing the rise and growing sophistication of low-code/no-code (LCNC) development alternatives that bring the power of application development to users across the business.
These alternative app development methodsleverage an intuitive and graphicalinterfaceto give users the power and freedom to quickly build applicationsand automate business processes without having to write code line by line. The adoption of LCNC tools comes with the promise of greater user accessibility, which in turn spurs more innovation and reduces strain on IT departments. The implementation of LCNC platforms is the next leap in making application development easy and accessible to all.
What is low-code?
Low-code is a method of designing and developing applicationsusing intuitive graphicaltoolsandembedded functionalities thatreducetraditional–or pro-code–writingrequirements.Pro-codewritingis still part of the development process,but low-code developmentoffersanaugmentedandsimplifiedexperienceto helpusersstart creatingquickly.
What is no-code?
No-codeis a method thatbenefits froma similaruserexperience aslow-code,butgoes the extra mile by allowing non-technicalbusinessusers to develop applications without having to writeevena single line of code.
Low-code vs. no-code
The main difference betweenlow-code and no-code developmentplatformsliesin how much coding knowledge the user needs. Low-code development platforms (LCDPs) require some basic coding skills for users to develop and integrate complex applications, while no-code development platforms (NCDPs) do not require programming knowledge at all. Because most organizations have a wide range of technical skill sets within their workforce,many platforms offerboth low-code and no-code tools.
The rise of citizen developers
Subject-area specialistshaveunique knowledge and insights that can often be difficult to effectively impart to IT teams. By empowering these “citizen developers,” businesses ensure that the best-informed team members can be part of the app development process. And with LCNC platforms on their side,department leaders and IT professionalscan better collaborate and ensure that the right technologies, workflows, and processes are in place. The rise in citizen developers helps fulfill the demand for new applications, address the shortage of skilled developers, reducethe workloads ofIT teams, and respond faster to customer and market demands.
How do low-code and no-code tools work?
Conventional application development requires the use of highly skilled code-writing practitioners and often involves getting in a long queue in the IT department to get new applications developed or updated.
Low-code development platforms (LCDPs)andno-code development platforms (NCDPs)are based on the principles of model-driven design, automatic code generation, and visual programming. These platforms are intentionally designed to target users that are familiar with processes andworkflowswithin their business department, regardless of their coding experience. And once again, not only does this empower non-technical users,itmatches them with experienced developers.
Below are some of the fundamental steps in the LCNC development journey:
- Define your needs and the desired outcome:Whether you are working on a customer-facing application or an internal business process, it’s essential to identify the business needs and the desired outcomes of your project at the outset. What is the problem this app needs to solve? Who will be using it? What information and data will it need to function?
- Draw a business process or workflow:Using LCNC business process management (BPM) and development tools,usersspecify and document the desired processes and workflows. This is often achieved by identifying modules – by purpose – within the application and developing them as independent entities. For example, some modules may gather data, others may trigger an action or event. At this stage, thecitizendeveloper can first build, then integrate the modules to achieve the desired outcome.
- Test and deploy your project as an LCNC application:With a couple of clicks, the LCNC platform resolves all the back-end complexity of the process forusers. When it is ready, IT specialists and/or beta testers can evaluate the application, and once their recommendations are implemented, the app can be deployed for general use.
In app view of a low-code/no-code development platform
How is low-code/no-code app development used?
According to a recentGartner survey,LCNC platforms will be used in more than65% of application developments worldwide by 2024. This comes with a steep165% projected growth rate every two years. When businesses begin to use LCNC tools, the number – and sophistication – of citizen users swiftly grows as people begin to realize the benefit of fast and accurate app development across almost any area of any business.
Here are someexamples:
- Supply chainscandevelop applications to helpovercome multiple challenges, including pandemic-related delays, trade sanctions, and climate change, all of which can createsupply chain disruption. LCNC tools have the potential to help address these challenges in three significant ways:
- Developing responsive and progressive applications for collaboration and end-to-end visibility, providing improved trackability, and traceability to the supply chain
- Creating automated workflows and business processes to model, monitor, and improve supply chain operations, from raw goods sourcing to delivery at the customer’s front door
- Digitalizing legacy data and records and integrating them with existing and new incoming data, which facilitates more accurate analytics and robust data-driven insights
- Manufacturingcan use LCNC to model processes and drive the evolution ofsmart factoriesand digital manufacturing environments. LCNC also helps to unlock the potential of robotic process automation (RPA) andInternet of Things (IoT)networks. From processing raw materials to packaging and shipping finished goods, LCNC solutions help manufacturing operations run more smoothly and efficiently.
- Accounting and financeteams candevelop customized business applications that support a wide range of workflows and informationmanagement processes. For example, by defining workflows for tax filing, an accounting firm could design a portal to guide clients through the process of reporting expenses and income, presenting bank statements and other financial disclosures, and eliminating the glut of emails and printed documents. Similarly, a financial institution could map workflows by automating loan approvals, risk assessments, decision flows, and information management – saving time for both clients and financial advisors.
- Humanresourcesteams can useLCNCtocustomize job posts,automate hiringprocesses, filter candidates, and create entire training programs. And all these activities can now be done without having to strain the resources of IT teams.
- IT departmentsfind that LCNC platforms can help them streamline complex processes and increaseefficiency and agility. In addition, with more citizen developers, organizations can reduce IT bottlenecks and overwork.IT departments can still retain the ability to govern and implement LCNC initiatives,but they are significantly freed up from the repetitive and time-consuming code-writing tasks that are normally associated with that process. IT professionals are encouraged to see LCNC less as a threat and more as an agile work environment that gives them the space they need to build and develop at peak levels. In fact, the most robust software solutions support pro-code/low-code hybrids – an in-between process that requires IT programming skills as well as citizen developer work. According to recent estimates, IT professionals and business users collaborate inmore than 60% of LCNC development projects.Harvard Business Reviewhas also reported that one IT developer can support as many as 10 or more citizen developers, increasing overall agility and productivity.
- Process automation initiatives are on the rise as companies seek ever-better ways to improve their business process automation (BPA). As a core component of BPA, robotic process automation (RPA) describes self-learning software and bots that are specifically programmed to emulate human actions in the completion of routine and repetitive business tasks. This can include reading and entering data, extracting information from documents, and a variety of other rules-based tasks.
And while RPA is a powerful and valuable tool, it’s nonetheless completely reliant upon having the right parameters set in the first place. Indeed RPA bots can learn as they go, but they can’t rewrite fundamental inefficiencies in the business process “rules”. This is where low code and no code applications come into the picture as a driver of improved process automation outcomes. Who better to grasp and understand flaws and inefficiencies in their processes, than the subject-area specialists themselves? With LCNC’s ability to empower citizen developers, these specialists can go in with laser precision to break up logjams and weak spots in processes. This change in the rules is then passed on to the RPA bots whose jobs just got a whole lot more productive.
Top 8 benefits of low-code/no-code platforms
The growing adoption of LCNC platforms reflects the business-wide benefits arising from these tools. The use of LCNC platforms means:
- Easier use:As the apps are not built from scratch,development is simplified, making it possible to focus more on fulfilling users’ wishes and requirements. In the words of Koushik Sen, renowned computer science lecturer at the UC Berkeley, “Imagine a world where you do not have to write code, just say things and the computer does it for you.”
- Faster development:Users can easily adjust and adapt the main components and basic code of their applications, meaning that the actual development is very fast. In addition, users can integrate and connect apps, processes, and workflows from existing applications.Forrestershowed that low-code development platforms made development projects as much as 20 times faster than when done with traditional coding.
- Increased automation:By establishing basic rules for decision-making, users can automate the design of workflows that can then be implemented in multiple information systems. Many LCNC tools use RPAand employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to offer suggestions for automation based on existing data sets.
- Lower costs:The reduction in time can save valuable resources. LCNC also makes maintenance activities less complex, reducing costs and the burden on IT. In addition, you can test new ideas coming from virtually any department very inexpensively. These ideas can then revolutionize entire processes and increase productivity and efficiency.
- Simpler data integration:Creating workflows where information is collected, shared, processed, and stored makes data integration simpler and more flexible. LCNC tools allow users to find, understand, and use data within a process. This will allow you to identify the source, ownership, validity, and quality of data across processes and make more informed and confident decisions.
- More agility:Fast and easy development helps you respond to changing opportunities and regulatory/compliance issues quickly– often in real time. In addition, the simplicity of LCNC platforms allows developers to experiment and test new ideas, without the need for largeinvestments of IT or external resources.Furthermore, because LCNC makes development easier, thisbroadens the pool of developersand allowsmore users to contribute totheapplication creationusing technology.
- Better customer experience:The ability to keep applications and workflows up-to-date and responsive to customer feedback will enhance both customer experience and loyalty. In addition, CX professionals can use LCNC platforms to develop customized customer surveys, e-commerce, customer service, and loyalty applications.
- Greater privacy and security:LCNCallowsbusinesses to perform development tasks that are too sensitive to be outsourced to third parties, helping to minimize the risks of breaches or cybercrime.
Getting started with low-code/no-code development platforms
There is no question that these technologies are revolutionizing businesses and giving them the competitive edge they need to meet today’s market demands. But like any business transformation, incorporating citizen-user solutions requires a strong commitment to change management, communication, and breaking down silos.
In the face of these changes, some concerns have been raised. For instance, the broad use of LCNC platforms may lead to a rise in “shadow IT projects,” which are projects that are undertaken without the awareness of the IT department. In addition, applications created by citizen developers may not have been created with scalability in mind, or they may be vulnerable to obsolescence if the developer creates them in a silo and then leaves the organization.
To avoid such issues, start by:
- Putting compliance and governance protocols in place that support best IT practices and ensure strong and workable collaboration models between IT, citizen developers, and their teams.
- Ensuring that training efforts are robust and accessible. The old saying that starts with “teach a man to fish” is very apt when it comes to LCNC training. Simply setting up a few webinars and hoping for the best will inevitably lead to low uptake of the product and poor execution of projects.
- Reaching out to your software vendor who can help you understand the best enterprise development tools for your unique needs.
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What is low-code no-code application development? ›
Low-code and no-code development platforms are tools for people who either do not know how to code or have no time to code. Whereas these low-code and no-code frameworks are built on actual coding languages like PHP, Python, and Java, end users are not concerned with the specifics.What is low-code no-code AI? ›
What is low-code/ no-code AI? These terms are simply used to refer to tools that allow anyone to create AI applications without having to get their hands dirty writing technical code. AI can be useful to anyone in just about any job – from doctors and lawyers to marketers, teachers, and project managers.What is low code development and why is IT important? ›
Simply put, low code is a smart way to put power back into your hands. Specifically, it's a method of software and application development that allows your workers to create enterprise-grade business apps using drag-and-drop functionality and visual guidance—with very little or no coding experience or knowledge.What is low-code application examples? ›
These allow citizen developers to build sites customisable for multiple devices from a single platform. Low-code application examples include Wix, Squarespace, WordPress and Weebly. All of which have drag-and-drop tools capable of building a highly customisable website or user interface.What are the four main benefits of low-code automation? ›
- Eliminate time-consuming manual testing processes. ...
- Create and deploy tests easily without the need for coding experience. ...
- Increase test coverage with less testing time. ...
- Improve workforce innovation.
Low-code development removes complexity from building great, modern business apps. And reduced complexity means smoother sailing. With these low-code benefits, organizations are better equipped to quickly adapt and respond to fast-changing business conditions.What is the difference between no-code and low-code? ›
Basic feature differences between Low-Code and No-Code
A low-code platform is mostly leveraged by IT professionals with coding knowledge to create complex custom applications, while no-code platforms enable business users to create apps without any coding to address their business needs.
With simple visual development functions, no-code/ low-code platforms reduce the need for complex coding software or software developers. No-code/ low-code development platforms also reduce business operational costs because there is less need to hire software developers to create programming from scratch.How does low-code work? ›
What is Low-Code? Low-code is a software development approach that requires little to no coding to build applications and processes. Instead of using complex programming languages, you can employ visual interfaces with basic logic and drag-and-drop capabilities in a low-code development platform.What is low-code for dummies? ›
“Low-Code For Dummies” is the first book of its kind, outlining the emergence of low-code technology and its rising relevance in the fintech industry. It's a must-read for any ambitious business leader who wants to grow their company.
What does low-code mean? ›
Low-code is a visual approach to software development that enables faster delivery of applications through minimal hand-coding.What are 3 examples of no-code tools? ›
While the names of the coding paradigms sometimes vary, most experts agree on four primary types of code: imperative, functional, logical, and object-oriented.What are the 3 types of codes *? ›
What are the 3 types of codes? Very broadly speaking, every application on a website consists of three different types of code. These types are: feature code, infrastructure code, and reliability code.Which is better low-code or no-code? ›
If it's a code-driven application where the developer owns the assembly, then you want high code. If it's a content-driven application where the marketer owns the assembly, then you want low code. If it's a standardized application following more of a “cookie-cutter” model of assembly, then you want no code.Will low-code no-code replace developers? ›
Low-code will never replace developers, but I can't say the same when it comes to replacing legacy systems, design-development processes, and mindsets though!Is low-code better than no-code? ›
A low-code platform is most often used by IT professionals with some coding skills to create custom applications, while no-code platforms typically allow business users without any knowledge of how coding works to address their own development needs.