Low-Code Development Helps IT Tame Enterprise Software

    A recent survey of IT and business leaders found that 80 percent have had to change their daily operations to accommodate the way their enterprise software works, and two-thirds feel that the limitations of their current software have negatively affected their company’s growth. According to Pete Khanna, CEO of the company that conducted the survey, TrackVia, a low-code mobile workflow software provider in Denver, those findings underscore the need for low-code development platforms.

    I asked Khanna what he learned from the survey that he didn’t already know. He said he now understands that the pace that organizations are running at is even faster than he had realized:

    Folks are finding that their business is moving rapidly, and they need tools or software that can keep up with the pace. I think you wrote an article a while back about how the applications are outpacing the business. Well, it goes both ways. Not only are applications demanded by business users increasing, but the entire organization and what it has to accomplish, its objectives, are outpacing IT. IT is getting squeezed from the top down and the bottom up, and they’re in the middle. So that’s what we found — it wasn’t just the business users, it was the organizations that were pushing IT to do more, be more nimble, be more modern. That’s why I think you’re seeing low-code gaining so much visibility in 2017.

    I asked Khanna if any of the survey findings suggested that he needed to change TrackVia’s focus or strategy in any way. He said it actually validated their vision, and what they’ve been doing over the past five to eight years:

    It found that companies’ leaders have grown up with technology, and they want a software platform that is versatile, scalable, and that they can customize for different applications, without sacrificing mobile. Those things are paramount. IT is taking on this approach that says, “Hey, we’re accepting low-code platforms, we want them, we’re a champion.” But low-code really is not a rip-and-replace model. It’s augmenting what they have, and making it better, integrating into these legacy systems — no one’s going to rip out Oracle that’s been in for 20 years. But the integrations and the microservices have to be robust enough to tie into their legacy systems that are in place. And I think if anything, those integrations are where we’re spending more time. That’s what we learned from the survey.

    My own observation is that low-code has been getting so much buzz recently that a lot of software providers are positioning themselves as low-code just to capitalize on the buzz. Khanna didn’t disagree:

    I think you see a lot of people that are in this space that aren’t even low-code. That’s why what we’re trying to do is educate. We see a lot of people come back to us saying they tried our competitors and they’re like, “I need an SDK. I have to download onto a database.” So the negative is, it’s confusing a lot of buyers on what low-code actually is. Our position has always been, you have to have speed to solution. If one of the criteria for a low-code application platform is speed to solution, you better be able to get somebody up in less than a week. It might not be the be-all, end-all application, but you have to be able to do that, and we’ve consistently held that as a core pillar. The way we operate is, you can get up and operating on our system in a week. It might not be your production app that you deploy to 500 people, but deploy to a subset to say, “Is this software working?” So you have real-time iterations with the people doing the work, which is important. That’s the one thing low-code has done, is that you don’t have to go back and forth with IT or a third-party development shop to say, “Here are my requirements.” Great, they come back in a month and they build half of it, and you go, “That’s not what I said.” You’re doing that real time now. And that’s what low-code is about: One pillar is speed to solution; the others that we live by are configurability, and then seamless mobile. But that’s what your readers should understand: “If I can’t get up and running, it’s not low-code.”

    A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.

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