Remaining competitive today requires innovation, and for the enterprise, that usually includes a lot of software development. But software developers are in high demand, and IT is having trouble recruiting and retaining people with the technical skills sets they require. Everyone is looking for ways to help developers create more high-quality software in less time, and the solution that’s currently most exciting is low-code / no code development.
I’ll be speaking at Torino Digital Days in late May on the value of low-code for businesses, and, if you’re attending, I hope to see you there. But I’d like to provide a brief overview of my thoughts on the topic here, for a wider audience outside of Italy.
What is low-code?
First, let’s define low-code development. It’s still an emerging space, so many people have different ideas, but in my view, low-code development provides business value without the developer having to know exactly how the software works or how it’s built. It’s like cooking dinner without knowing how to cook through the use of Blue Apron or one of the many other meal delivery services. They provide the pre-proportioned ingredients, and all you need to do is follow a few simple instructions to produce a great meal.
The interfaces for low-code platforms vary, but at Hoverstate, we use it in platforms with a drag-and-drop approach to create shapes and flows without being forced to create them in great detail in code.
The use cases for low-code development are basically only limited by one’s imagination, but a few examples include:
Mobile apps: Commerce and business are both increasingly moving in a mobile direction, and companies are under intense pressure to create new apps and new functionality quickly. Low-code development can substantially shorten the development cycle, giving developers the time they need to be laser-focused on new capabilities and functionality.
Self-service web apps: The more a customer can take advantage of self-service apps on a company’s website, the happier everyone will be. Low-code development empowers a development team to create and update self-service web apps to automate functions that would ordinarily require time and attention from a human being. It’s more efficient for the company, and customers get what they want faster.
Business process management: With low-code development, it’s far faster and easier to automate new processes and create applications that can analyze and manage data. And as the market changes, low-code enables developers to ensure that business process automation keeps up with changing business needs.
Benefits of low-code
I think the use cases I’ve identified — and they really are just the top of the iceberg — point to the primary benefits of low-code development. The most obvious is time-to-market. Not every organization will achieve the 90% reduction in development time that 451 Group identified above, but even if they only cut it in half, that’s an enormous competitive advantage.
It also produces higher quality software that’s much less likely to contain bugs. For example, not too long ago, I spent an entire day trying to find a particularly vexing bug. Turns out, I’d simply forgotten to add a period. It’s so easy for human beings to make minor mistakes like this while coding that are extremely difficult to find and can truly gum up the software. Low-code development automates the creation of the underlying code in a far more consistent manner, which means coders spend much more time creating valuable functionality, and much less time scanning code for extra semicolons and other typos.
What does investing in a low-code platform mean for the business? It means that the development team is freed up from the complex, detailed work that goes into the basic functions of code and can instead invest more time in ideating new features, researching new functionality, testing the software with users and other high-value tasks that will truly move the business forward.
Finally, low-code is also great for team morale. With fewer errors, developers spend less time bug hunting and more time doing work that truly matters. And because it’s so efficient, developers can accomplish their work without having to remain at work, late into the night. Instead of coding at 8pm, they can instead have dinner with their families and spend time with their friends.
Low-code is perhaps the most important trend in software development today. If you’re in Torino for Digital Days, I hope to see you at my talk. But if not and you’d like to learn more about low-code development, contact us.
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