There was a time when building construction involved the old-school method of laying a foundation, setting the framing, roofing, and siding, followed by carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. Time-consuming, incremental, and expensive as the method was, it led to dissatisfied customers. Now, imagine this: with the foundation being set up on the site, different modular components of the building are being pre-fabricated and transported from other locations. When modular construction was introduced, it turned the tables for the construction industry, allowing speed-to-market and diminished expenses. In the golden era of digital paraphernalia and, more specifically, the “app economy,” where applications have become an indispensable part of every organization, such a paradigm shift is currently underway in software development.
The IT industry has transformed significantly from its outdated ways of working, where it took months to develop and implement an application, to today’s rapid and frequent rollouts. Traditionally, software development lifecycles spanned across months; gaps existed in translating requirements into applications, and disconnects were prevalent between the IT and business teams, leading to implementation failures. By the time the application moved into production, it often became obsolete or missed the context. At a time when instant gratification dictates the pace at which businesses must operate and deliver, such extensive timelines and decoupled processes may spell disaster. Now, what if building a software doesn’t mean writing thousands of lines of codes for the business logic and the frontend; instead, what if snippets of readymade components can be onboarded on an à la carte basis, as the need demands? Enter low-code no-code (LCNC), the next-generation application development platforms that are bringing business and IT closer.
LCNC platforms are clearly a mainstay to fulfil the need for agility and customer-centricity in application development. Forward-looking organizations must capitalize on partnerships with market leaders that can guide them through the new-age software development labyrinth.
Less code, more gain
LCNC is nothing new to the application development ecosystem. For years now, developers have been turning towards LCNC platforms, owing to their ease of use and ability to launch products in the market quicker. Similar to how modular construction works, LCNC allows concurrent testing as and when the application is built. Further, LCNC platforms facilitate the practice of what-you-see-is-what-you-get, which allows businesses to unlock speed of delivery and customization at the same time. For business users, there is also a reduced dependence on IT, which ensures that the intricacies of the requirement are not lost during communication among analysts, developers, testers, and business users. What’s more, sales and customer success teams with their deep understanding of customers – despite their limited coding expertise – can also contribute to creating more customer-centric applications.
Clearly, there is no denying the multiple benefits that LCNC platforms bring to the table. However, like all good things, LCNC comes with its own challenges and limitations. To begin with, the marketplace is inundated with many LCNC platforms, and businesses often find it challenging to select the right platform that fits the bill. While some of these platforms are still in their beta versions, others have poor upgrade and customer support. To understand and navigate through this surplus conundrum better, organizations must narrow down the what, where, and how of their application development requirements.
Assessing the right platform
The objective of the application – be it employee-, partner-, or customer-facing – is a good place to start when it comes to choosing an LCNC platform. For instance, to design a HR portal or a simple form-based data collection tool that is less intensive on business logic and workflows, businesses can opt for no-code platforms. Whereas, enterprise-level applications demand more attention to detail in terms of functionalities; here, low-code platforms can be utilized, provided the IT teams assume some control over system development to ensure coherence, logic, and flow. In a similar vein, businesses must factor in the application’s delivery form such as mobile apps, web apps, or desktop apps.
Given that over 70% of digital media in the US is distributed through mobile apps1, low-code platforms are the best bet for building mobile apps, as they support the development of cross-functional apps – mobile and web. Similarly, with businesses coveting an omnichannel presence, low-code platforms can help them facilitate this reality with no or marginal costs since it gets easier to replicate the code for each channel.
It is critical to note that most LCNC platforms that are available in the market today are at a relatively nascent stage. For organizations in some industry verticals, specifically insurance, LCNC platforms are not mature enough to handle the refactoring of core systems like policy admin or billing, owing to their complex workflows and the extended implementation timelines. That said, there is a rising adoption of low-code platforms among insurers for building quoting, underwriting, claims submission, and other systems.
The new syntax of apps
LCNC platforms are clearly a mainstay to fulfil the need for agility and customer-centricity in creating applications. In the years to come, we can expect the evolution of LCNC platforms to cut down on the number of standalone apps a company has for each business function by bringing them under a single platform. While there is still scope for maturity in this space, the future of efficient and effective software development is just around the corner. Forward-looking organizations must be early on the scene and partner with market leaders that can guide them through the new-age software development labyrinth.
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