Based on the financial results of multiple providers of software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the rate at which organizations are transitioning to these platforms.
Salesforce.com, for example, in its most recent quarter posted revenue of $5.15 billion, a 29% increase on a year over year basis. Organizations are clearly replacing on-premises applications with (SaaS) applications that are easier for remote workers to access.
The challenge organizations will next face is how to incorporate all those SaaS platforms into a larger digital business transformation initiative. Most organizations rely on no code or low-code tools to customize a SaaS application. Just about every provider of a SaaS platform provides access to these tools. The issue organizations will encounter, however, is that as they move to construct custom workflows across SaaS applications from multiple vendors, the tools provided by one vendor will not work seamlessly against SaaS applications residing on another platform. Lots of low-level integration work is likely to be required that will be cumbersome at best.
No Code and Low-Code Vendors Gain from Cloud Migration
Because of that issue, no code and low-code tools from vendors such as Mendix, Outsystems, Appian, Quick Base and others that are designed to be applied across multiple SaaS platforms will soon be gaining a lot more traction.
SaaS platforms have emerged as a means to jumpstart digital business transformation initiatives because they enable IT teams to build applications by extending a suite of core applications. There's no reason, for example, for an organization to build their customer relationship management (CRM) module within a larger workflow application when dozens of CRM applications running in the cloud are an application programming interface (API) call away. Using SaaS applications as the foundation enables organizations to accelerate the rate at which applications can be delivered. That's critical when many organizations are hemorrhaging revenue because they didn't have a digital business strategy in place prior to the arrival of the pandemic.
Arguably, the best thing about no code/low-code tools is they enable those applications to be built either by subject matter experts or business leaders working in collaboration with an application development team. The issue IT organizations need to pay attention to is making sure the handoffs between business teams and professional developers building applications is as frictionless as possible.
Microsoft, for example, has a plethora of application development tools that appeal to everyone from end users to professional developers. However, moving code from one of those environments into another as an application evolves and matures is difficult. In contrast, tools from Mendix, Outsystems and Appian all enable code to be more seamlessly shared by anyone who has a vested interest in the application either when the application is first developed or sometime later as the digital process evolves.
The end result is a much more flexible organization that can leverage the skills of citizen and professional developers more adroitly, says Sheryl Koenigsberg, global director of marketing at Mendix.
"Professional developers need to be able to work on an application that a citizen developer might have initially created without switching tools," said Koenigsberg.
No Code and Low-Code Mean High ROI
In fact, a recent study from Forrester Consulting commissioned by Mendix claims total quantified benefits of the Mendix platform to be $20.52 million over three years, with $8.1 million attributed to application delivery savings, $6 million to operational efficiencies from applications, $3.3 million from accelerated time to market for new products and services, and $3.1 million in incremental revenue from improved customer engagement.
Obviously, the economic benefits that might be derived from adopting any no code/low-code platform will vary widely by organization. The important thing to remember, however, is that when it comes to digital business transformation, the tools matter as much as the platform. SaaS platforms will come and go over time. The workflows organizations create to drive a digital business strategy, on the other hand, need to both evolve and endure.