Is low-code and no-code a 'silver bullet' for businesses challenged by the scarcity and cost of skilled developers? Will low-code and no-code products and platforms enable so-called citizen developers to create applications that improve efficiency and productivity, without compromising organizational development processes and outcomes? Will low-code and no-code ultimately mean the demise of professional software developers and engineers?
These are just some of the questions business executives, technology leaders and development teams are pondering as low-code and no-code products make greater inroads into their organizations.
Low-code and no-code products already enable professional developers, employees with some IT skills and citizen developers – non-technical business team members – to build applications faster and more effectively. Product demonstrations at public events have shown that a lightweight approval chain application can be developed using these platforms and products in just 30 seconds, while a production process monitoring and management system developed with one of these platforms has delivered a 15% improvement in production efficiency. In addition, a traditional retailer has used low code development to establish 317 processes covering domains such as finance, personnel and administration.
The analyst community is certainly bullish about the future of low-code and no-code development. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications will be developed using low-code or no-code technologies, with silos of application development, automation, integration and governance disappearing in the transition to the assembly and composition of applications by the teams that use them. Gartner also claims that the transition to low-code will unleash the potential of a cohort of business technologists that create technology or analytics capabilities, but report outside IT departments, and says 41% of employees identify as being in this cohort.
The reality is that democratization of application development through no-code and low-code products in particular can help businesses address the development skills shortage while empowering citizen developers, business technologists and professional developers to contribute to more efficient, innovative organizations. However, to unleash these capabilities, businesses need to take a prudent, calculated and controlled approach to the selection and introduction of low-code and no-code products and platforms.
As with all new technologies, low-code and no-code products and platforms should not be deployed without defining appropriate use cases and guard rails. Use cases such as the capture of financial information from spreadsheets for auditing and expense approvals, or the creation of business intelligence dashboards based on analytics components are particularly suited to no-code development. However, business and technology leaders should not fall into the trap of considering low-code and no-code development as suitable only to minor applications; newer generation, cloud-based low code platforms are equipped to enable the seamless development of sophisticated, business-critical applications, and this should be accounted for in organizational roadmaps for the adoption of low-code and no-code.
Low-code and no-code provide a number of benefits to professional developers, business technologists and employees that aim to improve their capabilities in this area; but like all technology projects, requires planning and effective execution to ensure success. Business technologists and citizen employees, in particular, will require time and training to use these platforms effectively, with a series of pilots an effective way of enabling experimentation without large-scale disruption to existing development processes and practices. A disciplined approach governed by policies and best practices can also minimize the risk of uncontrolled, mushrooming use of low-code and no-code throughout an organization, leading to 'shadow IT' type management headaches. Among other things, this means defining the role of the IT organization and professional developers in relation to development by non-technical team members and the connection or integration of no-code or low-code applications into key business systems, as well as ensuring managers across the business are aware of the nature and role of no-code or low-code development within their areas of responsibility. Furthermore, effective development and deployment means ensuring all applications - no matter under what circumstances they are developed - undergo testing and quality assurance to identify and resolve problems before being moved into production. This is particularly important for any low-code or no-code applications that touch on customers or internal teams at scale.
Rather than threaten the roles and responsibilities of professional developers, no-code and low-code platforms present extensive opportunities for them to work more productively and achieve a higher degree of job satisfaction. For example, the proliferation of no-code development capability throughout an organization enables them to help train business technologists and employees to create the applications and features they need, rather than add to the development team's workload, and enables them to focus their energies and skills on innovation and delivering value.
Professional developers' capabilities are only enhanced by the newer generation of no-code and low-code platforms. An effective full-featured cloud-based platform can manage infrastructure services such as data storage, runtime environments, servers and network security, as well as providing elastic computing and dynamic scaling, as well as delivering the operations needed to develop complex enterprise business systems, such as building field-related data models, performing logic and service orchestration and designing professional user interfaces. Alibaba Cloud’s YiDA low-code development platform provides visualized application-building and business-specific customization – as well as integration with the DingTalk intelligent working platform – to help organizations realize the full potential of their development capabilities.
Low-code and no-code development presents a powerful opportunity for businesses like yours to extend innovation and efficiency through citizen and business technologist development activities, rather than being stymied by the scarcity of skilled developers. However, rather than having the same relationship to professional developers as a large asteroid to dinosaurs, low-code and no-code can enhance developers' productivity, contribution and enthusiasm, with consequent benefits to the organization.
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