Whether it's Gartner, Forbes, or the Boston Consulting Group, business analysts agree that every company is a tech company. Without technology, digital transformation is not possible, and without transformation, companies will not survive. The problem for many organizations is finding the resources to implement the technology.
Technical staff in most companies are already stretched as they struggle to meet increasing demands for new applications, improved infrastructure, and hardened cybersecurity. Hiring is often cost-prohibitive. Depending on location, companies can pay over $100,000 (US) for a new hire who must be trained and possibly upskilled before writing a line of code. As businesses try to balance financial and technical resources, many find themselves falling behind in their digital transformation.
Low-code platforms are being used to help bridge the gap between available resources and increasing demand. According to Gartner, the global market for low-code development technologies is projected to reach $13.8 billion by the end of 2021. That is 22.6% over 2020.
Low-code platforms let developers design applications with minimal hand-coding. Instead of writing lines of code, developers drag and drop blocks of existing code into workflows to build applications. These coding shortcuts or pre-existing code options can significantly reduce development time.
Low-code solutions allow developers to write custom code. The ability to combine pre-existing and custom code can shorten development time. The added capability of integrating with numerous back ends can reduce the time to delivery.
Why Use Low-Code?
Low-code platforms improve development agility. These solutions reduce the time to deliver an application and lessen the development burden on technical staff. A recent survey found that:
- 64% of users delivered applications in under 4 months
- 46% of users reduced their project backlog
According to Forrester, low-code platforms can improve development time ten-fold, making organizations more agile.
When IT departments are overwhelmed, they can't move fast enough to deliver critical applications while maintaining existing infrastructures. Low-code can reduce these pressures through the following features:
- Visual Models. Drag-and-drop interfaces are much faster than writing lines of code.
- Built-in Functionality. Applications need to be portable. With low-code, much of the cross-platform functionality is built-in. Application development time is reduced because platform-specific development is no longer necessary.
- Pre-built Components. User interfaces take time. Deploying pre-designed objects can expedite the development process and helps minimize the time to code and deliver updates.
- Shorter Development Cycle. Low-code makes the process from design to deployment faster by streamlining the prototype to the production process.
Faster development means IT departments can contribute to a company's agility. Instead of waiting months for traditional development cycles, low-code solutions can deliver business solutions in weeks.
Better Resource Utilization
Approximately 65% of app development will use low-code platforms by 2024. Part of the push will come from the increasing use of shadow IT. It's estimated that, on average, organizations have about 1,000 cloud services; however, IT only knows about 100. The remaining 900 are outside of IT's control and pose a cybersecurity vulnerability as well as a threat to operational performance.
Low-code platforms can help increase efficiencies through citizen developers. A citizen developer is a less technical employee who creates new business applications using IT-approved tools such as low-code platforms. These employees use the drag-and-drop features to design a workflow. Because they create a solution that looks and operates as they envisioned, the back-and-forth of traditional development does not occur.
If custom code is needed, developers are there to help. By using citizen developers, organizations can alleviate some of IT's development burden without sacrificing security or operational controls. Companies can re-allocate their developers to more mission-critical projects, resulting in better use of their human resources.
Software development often requires numerous iterations. Developers do not understand the end-user's requirements, or the requirements are incomplete. The resulting application does not meet the end-user's expectations, so the developer goes back to recode the application. Each development cycle repeats the process of design, code, and test, adding to the time to deliver.
With low-code, developers and citizen developers collaborate on a customized solution. The business user manipulates the pre-designed components to create a workflow. They then collaborate with developers to define requirements that need customizing.
Collaborating lets both developers and users gain a better understanding of how each group operates. It builds an environment where individuals are more invested in the outcome. Using low-code can remove silos, making for a more agile operation.
According to Jeff Bezos, the only sustainable advantage a company has over its competition is agility. Without agility, organizations cannot pivot to address changing expectations, nor can they achieve digital transformation.
Low-code platforms are one business solution that organizations can use to remain competitive by developing and delivering business applications quickly. Companies that continue to use traditional development cycles will find that their ability to compete will decline as their delivery cycles grow longer. Not only will their delivery times lengthen, but their development costs will increase as more resources are spent on sustaining an aging business model.
By implementing a low-code solution, companies can realize the following:
- Faster Development Cycles. Low-code is designed to help developers move through the development cycle faster. Instead of writing lines and lines of code, programmers can use pre-existing modules to deliver business applications quickly. Faster delivery means lower production costs.
- Better Resource Utilization. Using low-code platforms allows organizations to employ less experienced programmers without impacting production schedules. Even commandeering citizen developers can reduce labor costs for application development.
- Improved Collaboration. Innovation comes through collaboration. Although it's difficult to place a price tag on the value of innovation, the lack of innovation translates into the opportunity costs of a failed enterprise.
Low-code implementations can move organizations forward on their digital transformation journey because they can contribute to a digital culture that supports collaboration, innovation, and agility. By lowering production costs, low-code platforms can also improve a company's bottom line. To learn more about how low-code can help you achieve digital transformation while improving your bottom line, contact us at eSystems.
WRITTEN BY: Mika Roivainen | Chief Digitalization Officer