Many Chief Information Officers will look at their disparate, isolated systems while trying to determine how to maintain them under the current performance statistics. However, is that the best way to look at a business's digital infrastructure?
Legacy modernisation should aim to update dated systems, integrate data, and create avenues for rapid application development. But how do you capture all of these?
According to Gartner, the answer lies in Low-Code; “Globally, most large organizations will have adopted multiple low-code tools in some form by year-end 2021.” So, in light of this statement, what’s the business case for Low-Code application development?
The enterprise business case for Low-Code development
Gartner’s 2021 Emerging Technologies Impact Radar places Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAPs) firmly within the category of ‘business enabler’, which will happen within the year.
Image credit: Gartner
They defined business enablers as “technologies and trends that impact enterprises by changing practices, processes, methods, models and/or functions.”
A key driving force behind this categorisation is how IT leaders look to increase the speed and time to value application delivery. Custom software solutions are very much in vogue and support business needs in ways not found in off-the-shelf counterparts.
COVID-19 has also had an effect, with Low-Code satisfying remote work functions and organisations offering a more cost-effective approach to app development.
Low-Code satisfies several use cases for enterprise business. For example:
- Enterprise businesses have lots of citizen developers outside of their IT departments creating custom software, ultimately resulting in more points of failure and uncontrollable issues. Low-Code fixes the problems shadow IT presents without the risks that come with them, such as a lack of security, high expenses and continuity issues.
- Low-Code is a common enabler for Software-as-as-Service (SaaS) vendors. As SaaS grows in popularity, Low-Code is being used in commensurate measure with them.
- Low-Code is also being used to enable hyper-automation, where business leaders want to create bespoke technical applications to meet their requirements, automating specific applications and workflows.
While there’s no doubting the increasing popularity of Low-Code, it isn't for everyone. The application development method suits enterprise businesses considering the following obstacles.
The Low-Code considerations
Every enterprise business struggles with its digital infrastructure at times. Whether legacy systems aren’t offering full functionality or are unsupported by developers and the technology ecosystem is under pressure from the sheer volume of apps and processes, Low-Code development solutions will help.
However, it’s never worth pursuing a new development avenue without determining whether it’s a potentially viable solution. Low-Code can be used in a variety of circumstances, satisfying the needs represented in the following questions.
Do your legacy systems need updating?
Gartner defines a legacy system as an “information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations”. This means employees may experience increased technical debt or even the complete inability to innovate.
If your business is working with a legacy system, does it fit any of the following parameters?
- User experience is lacking.
- The system is bulky and slow due to years of use and saturation with both data and modifications.
- There’s no ability to integrate with more modern solutions.
- The basic infrastructure is no longer supported with updates.
Any of these means a system either needs replacing or updating. The cost of a complete system replacement can be eye-watering. However, Low-Code offers a far more affordable solution, providing the ability to upgrade legacy systems to more effective working processes without sacrificing productivity, while changing systems or training staff.
Returning to Gartner’s expertise, there are seven ways businesses can modernise their legacy systems. These can all be implemented before replacing systems complete:
- Encapsulate: Extend the application’s features by encapsulating its data and functions, turning them into services available through an API.
- Rehost: Without changing code or functions, another infrastructure such as the cloud can rehost an application component.
- Replatform: Applications can migrate to another runtime platform, which means only small changes need to be made to the code.
- Refactor: Existing code can be restructured and optimised to get rid of any technical debt a legacy system could be producing.
- Rearchitect: Change the code so the application can be moved to another architecture to utilise optimised capabilities.
- Rebuild: Completely redesigning the application from scratch in line with its current objectives.
- Replace: Get rid of the application and replace it with a new system.
With Low-Code development platforms, such as OutSystems, enterprise businesses can make transformative changes without completely replacing the legacy system. In turn, organisations can progress their systems at a lower cost and with greater agility.
Why? Low-Code uses fewer resources and allows for accelerated delivery time.
For more information on the benefits of Low-Code development platforms for enterprise businesses, you can read this blog.
Are you looking to consolidate disparate systems?
Not only does Low-Code facilitate the transformation of business processes, but it also allows businesses to consolidate disparate systems within a unified infrastructure. We mentioned how, over time, enterprise businesses can accrue any number of individual systems. This may result in an organisation being slowed by countless processes that take both time and effort to implement.
So how does Low-Code help?
Initially, businesses can examine the existing systems to evaluate what can stay, go, and what elements of a legacy system require changes. The real question is ‘can this be improved or should it be retired?’
However, businesses need to determine which Low-Code development platform can most accurately consolidate systems under one roof. Some core systems, such as billing and pricing applications, are better consolidated and automated than others. Similarly, other apps require integrations to best function, so choosing a Low-Code platform with the capabilities of supporting APIs is vital.
With a wide variety of Low-Code development platforms on the market, consolidating disparate systems so they’re accessible, integrated, and offer better visibility helps enterprise businesses ensure productivity and better differentiate themselves within saturated markets.
Are you struggling to integrate systems?
System and data integrations are some of the most complex tasks IT and development teams need to undertake. This is usually driven by issues such as the variety of data formats, multiple endpoints in use, and the large scaling requirements present in enterprise businesses.
To combat these issues, Low-Code development platforms use pre-built connectors to integrate systems together. With the best platforms, these connectors are being constantly developed by the development platform’s community.
Additionally, Low-Code’s visual development style, accessibility, and ease-of-use allow non-technical team members to provide input to the integration process, giving insight on what may be important but also unconsidered by a developer.
Through integration, enterprise businesses can standardise the APIs used, meaning the effort required to maintain these systems can be greatly reduced. Furthermore, because Low-Code allows for consistent customisation, integration efforts can be revisited for further iterations and refining over time.
Learn more about Low-Code today
If you’re looking for more insights into Low-Code and the benefits it provides to enterprise businesses, head over to our blog, which contains many other articles on how Low-Code is changing the game.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to see what we at Unipro can provide for you, get in touch with one of our specialists today.