The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on the rate of digital transformation in businesses around the world. As a recent report from McKinsey declares:
COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever.
Digital transformation was already a well-established trend before COVID-19, but the pandemic is turbocharging that movement. As McKinsey points out, the pandemic caused companies to accelerate the digitalization of their internal operations by three to four years, while the rate at which they are integrating digital technologies into their product and service offerings has advanced by an astounding seven years.
In this article we want to explore the impact of the pandemic on digital transformation, and how low-code development has become a key factor in allowing companies to successfully navigate through the COVID-19 era and beyond.
How the pandemic has impacted businesses
When COVID-19 first appeared, many companies were unsure how to react. As Mika Walli, Head of Engagement Management at eSystems Nordic observes:
"When the pandemic started, businesses adopted a protective mindset and halted all investment and development. I believe that for many businesses, this was an unnecessary fear that lasted far too long… It took a long while after the pandemic had started for companies to realize that the pandemic did not affect their business as critically as they originally thought."
In particular, businesses initially struggled with how to respond effectively to challenges such as:
- Disruption of their supply chains and other aspects of their normal business operations
- The necessity of social distancing and employees working remotely
- The need to consolidate data from disparate sources to get a clear picture of a rapidly evolving business environment
- The requirement of quickly adjusting internal workflows, as well as customer-facing processes, as the pandemic disrupted long-standing business practices
- The pressure of quickly developing and deploying new software applications to meet fast-changing business requirements
These conditions can be expected to continue impacting businesses even after the COVID pandemic is over. For example, as the pandemic was near its height in April of 2020, 70% of U.S. workers said they worked from home. By January 2021, that number had fallen to 56% who told a Gallup poll they "always" or "sometimes" worked remotely. Yet, in May 2021, even as the pandemic continued to ebb, 75% of employees who had worked from home said they want to continue to do so at least part of the time.
Similarly, pandemic-induced disruptions to the supply chain, and to other traditional business operations, are abating only slowly, if at all. As the financial advisory firm BDO declares,
There will be no "return to normal". The coronavirus is permanently reshaping the way we live and work.
How companies responded to the pandemic
As the dimensions of the pandemic became better understood, businesses began adopting what Mika Walli calls more of a "doing" mindset:
"Companies began to think about how to make the best use of the time and develop their services in a direction where if this type of situation would repeat itself, they could not only survive, but thrive. Naturally, these thoughts led to developing digital services, which are nowadays useful in every industry."
Forward-looking companies realized that by developing and deploying appropriate digital solutions, they could not only overcome the current disruptions caused by the pandemic, but could actually position themselves even better for future growth. And the most useful tool for meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be low-code business application development.
What is low-code software development?
Low-code development allows both software professionals and regular employees (who may know little about coding but who know a lot about their particular business processes) to quickly create useful apps with minimal hand coding. Low-code platforms allow workers to design applications that automate their business process workflows simply by dragging and dropping pre-built components onto a user-friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Because the use of pre-built components can reduce the amount of manually written code by 90% or more, apps can be created and updated very quickly, providing major boosts in agility and productivity.
The role of low-code software development during and after the pandemic
Many companies have found that low-code is a great tool for meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and of the post-COVID future. Here, for example, are a couple of case studies that illustrate low-code's benefits:
- When Tampereen Sähkölaitos realized the necessity of apps to replace business processes done in person, they decided to work with eSystems Nordic to implement a contractor portal using low-code. This solution allowed contractors and sub-contractors to submit required information through unified desktop and mobile-friendly user interfaces. Once Tampereen Sähkölaitos discovered the benefits of low-code, they continued working with eSystems Nordic to build a number of digital apps that helped them stay competitive in their industry.
- In similar fashion, OutSystems (an eSystems Nordic partner), helped Estafeta, one of Mexico's largest logistics companies, implement several web apps using low-code development. These include a mobile app for pharmacy deliveries, a contactless sign-for-delivery app, and a contactless sign-for-drop-off point of sale app.
Why low-code is the face of the future in software development
In a time when the ability to quickly respond to rapidly changing business conditions is of paramount importance for companies of all sizes, low-code fills a need that traditional software development cannot. That's illustrated by a survey of 200 UK software developers conducted in November 2020. An article reporting the results of that survey declares:
Against the backdrop of Covid-19, almost half of developers said they lacked the tools to build applications and products quickly enough to meet deadlines. A similar proportion (43 percent) said it took more than three months to complete a typical content-based application in their organization, and 44 percent admitted that their employer had abandoned application projects because they were taking or were going to take too long.
Those are exactly the arenas in which low-code excels. eSystems Nordic's Mika Walli sums up the advantages of low-code in meeting the challenges of today's pandemic and the pandemic-influenced realities of tomorrow this way:
"Low-code has been a perfect match to these challenges and has accelerated development in many industries during the pandemic. Low-code allows you to not only develop apps rapidly, but also to make changes to your direction and adapt fast along with the situation at hand."
Has your company joined the low-code revolution?
For many companies, making use of low-code technology during the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a launching point for accelerated digital transformation and organizational change. If your company is not among them, it can be.
As business shifts to a post-COVID new normal, make sure you are ahead of the game. Let eSystems help you fulfill your application needs faster than you can imagine. Please contact us today and let's get started!
WRITTEN BY: Mika Roivainen | Chief Digitalization Officer