The ascent of web marketing and digitalized services has enabled businesses to provide better assistance and capture the attention of current as well as potential customers more effectively. As a result, businesses of all sizes are introducing their own applications to reach more people and enhance their revenues. However, for these applications to actually work, businesses need to ensure a high-quality development cycle.
Software development is a complex and elaborate process. Traditionally there were no more than two ways to establish new information systems: custom software development and purchasing prebuilt applications.
- Custom software development is appropriate for meeting precise business requirements; however, its cycle often demands a reliable development team, sizable budget, time, effort, and expertise.
- Buying prebuilt applications typically comes at a much lower price and enables faster delivery, but the ready-made or off-the-shelf application may or may not fulfill all business requirements or desired functions.
A third alternative has recently emerged that has changed software development to a much simpler process. Businesses and developers who wish to accelerate digital transformation and cut down on coding procedures opt for low-code or no-code development (LC/NC).
According to Gartner, the demand for enterprise application development is projected to grow at least five times faster than internal IT departments’ capacity to deliver them. The LC/NC methodology accelerates the software development cycle by fostering involvement, collaboration, automation, and feasibility.
Low-Code/No-Code Platforms Explained
The low-code/no-code approach has become increasingly popular as a relatively faster and easier alternative to other development methodologies. Gartner predicts that 65% of application development will be low-code by 2024.
Low-code/No-code platforms are visual software development environments on the cloud where people with little or no coding experience can create and modify applications. Developers at any level of expertise or even a non-technical employee can simply drag and drop different components, connect them, and come up with a web or mobile application effortlessly. App components can be repeatedly tested and rearranged until they function as expected.
Previously, the application development cycle required high coding skills, which resulted in long waiting times for new app developments and updates, as this job was restricted to app developers.
By significantly shortening the learning curve, LC/NC platforms have led to the emergence of citizen developers (non-technical users). This allows departments to collaborate with IT professionals to ensure the right technology is in place and reduce the workload on IT teams.
Advantages of LC/NC Platforms
One critical element of app development in this digital age is how fast you can respond to the ever-shifting market conditions. LC/NC expedites the app development cycle in multiple ways.
Traditionally used coding languages are difficult to understand and demand the right expertise. This makes debugging a lengthy and sometimes costly affair. Low-code and no-code platforms have an easy-to-use interface, making it easier to identify mistakes in the app and fix them.
An easy interface means development becomes more accessible even outside IT departments, resulting in more involvement. Gartner predicts that by 2024 80% of technology products and services will be built by those who are not technology professionals.
Due to the minimal coding requirements, non-technical users can quickly learn to use LC/NC platforms, and organizations can make the best out of their existing skill set. Users can create or customize applications by employing prebuilt templates, plugins, and widgets.
Besides letting citizen developers build their own applications, LC/NC modules also relieve professional developers from writing codes line by line, making their jobs much easier.
Higher agility and faster deployment
72% of IT leaders say project backlogs prevent them from focusing on strategic initiatives. LC/NC enables increased productivity of IT teams by speeding up the overall app development process.
Owing to the uncomplicated interface, the possibility of more involvement in the development cycle facilitates faster deployment. Low-code/No-code platforms have the potential to reduce development time up to 90%.
Limitations of LC/NC Platforms
LC/NC platforms and the promise of fast software development are appealing. But before opting for low-code development, consider these downsides.
Limited customization and integration
The customization options for different platforms vary. Low-code platforms rely on out-of-the-box functionalities, making the app development process more constrained. While some platforms give access to the underlying code to make necessary alterations, others only offer limited customization choices.
Heavy reliance on these platforms also reinforces integration with in-house or third-party services. That being said, a business may not achieve its desired functionalities all the time.
Due to the lack of control over the source code, low-code and no-code software rely heavily on platform providers to handle any security flaws which are discovered. In case these platform providers liquidate, new security updates won’t come out, leaving businesses unable to fix any issues.
Moreover, data and systems might get exposed to platform providers. There is also a risk of other departments adopting low-code tools and building their own shadow IT, which creates security risks.
Vendor lock-in is one of the biggest concerns about low-code/no-code platforms. Some platforms use open code and frameworks, allowing applications to be maintained even outside the platforms.
However, vendors lock their users into their platforms in various ways, such as incorporating convoluted codes or setting restrictions on editing once they stop using the tool. Today, about 37% of organizations are concerned about the possibility of vendor lock-in.
LC/NC Use Cases by Business Functions
The dynamic nature of LC/NC is evident when we look at it in an organizational context. Apart from IT teams, almost every department can leverage low-code/no-code to their advantage. Some examples are given below.
User-friendly and easily created LC/NC apps can provide scalable, convenient, and affordable HR automation. In addition, multiple HR processes can be optimized, such as filtration of candidates, hiring, performance review, or even creating training programs according to specific needs.
LC/NC helps harness the potential of Internet of Things (IoT) networks and robotic process automation (RPA). It can be used to make operations smooth and efficient by modeling or automating processes, from managing raw materials to packaging and shipping.
Accounting and finance
LC/NC apps can save substantial time for accounting and finance teams. Businesses or financial institutions can map workflows, automate reporting or approvals, analyze profit and expense, and create portals to guide their clients through procedures.
What to Keep in Mind
Whether the advantages outweigh the limitations or not depends largely on your organizational needs. While numerous players are gradually shifting towards low- or no-code techniques, coding is still unparalleled when it comes to performance optimization and personalization.
Enterprises continue to practice standard development for applications that demand vast functionalities, strong governance, and deployment to distinctive architectures or environments. Although, LC/NC remains a preferable alternative for quick app deployment.
Businesses and IT developers can utilize either one or the best of both worlds according to the circumstances. What becomes necessary is to be explorative and always look for occasions where technological innovations such as LC/NC can grant advantages.
Read next: No-Code & Low-Code Tools Increase ROI