Guy Wilcox

What is Low-Code? Everything You Need to Know

Low-Code
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2021-01-08
What is Low-Code? Everything You Need to Know

Technical debt. Time constraints. Budgetary concerns. The trials and tribulations of app development are constant considerations within any project. The key question for enterprise businesses and their IT teams is - how do we mitigate those issues without inadvertently compounding them? 

Our answer? Low-Code, a simple visual automation of coding allowing projects to be developed quickly and cost-effectively, without the myriad of multiple steps involved with the traditional coding process. 

This method is a way of making bottlenecks a thing of the past - but what considerations does it involve? What is Low-Code? Here’s everything you need to know. 

The Challenges Facing App Development

Existing within the enterprise-level business market, app development projects are subject to a number of constraints and challenges that can impact to the point of poor performance - or even failure. Here’s what development and IT teams are facing:

  • Budgetary issues: You might be maintaining multiple licenses while also ensuring none of your tech-stack goes out of date.
  • Technical debt/bottlenecks: Bottlenecks are keeping multiple projects on hold for longer than you can manage.
  • Fears of missed work on current tech-stack: Many businesses are missing out on work because they don’t have the right tools to implement what they need - or the skills to code.
  • Costs of development. These have high overheads. Not to mention that the cost of traditional coding development and additional software licenses can become prohibitive.
  • Lack of resources: There’s the potential of not having enough developers for the number of projects you’re pursuing. 
  • External demands: The market is quickly changing and you’re rushing to keep up.

Traditional coding is difficult and time-consuming. While your developers experiment with the latest in JavaScript frameworks or work frantically to debug unfamiliar code, your competitors are rolling out their own developments. A key focus is being able to deliver a successful project on time. 

Today, in our ‘new normal’ as we’re affected by a global pandemic which might have long-term effects on markets, these issues are compounded.

Enterprise businesses need to be able to solve these issues without breaking the bank or onboarding too many disparate solutions that eventually become too complex for anyone to manage. 

They need tools that are a little like Lego bricks - small pre-built components that can be utilised and arranged by a creative hand in a way that suits the needs of the builder. This means projects of any scale can be made quickly and accurately and are developed in a collaborative, hands-on approach. 

We believe that Low-Code is the solution to these challenges. And it’s quickly becoming apparent to more enterprise businesses. According to a report by Gartner, by 2024, Low-Code will be responsible for 65% of application development.

The Solution

This is where Low-Code comes in. By reducing the complexity of software development, big enterprises can onboard fit-for-purpose tech at a fraction of the cost of working with external providers or continually-leased software. 

By utilising Low-Code, not only are you elevating where the skills of your developers are best placed, you’re also enabling your teams to widen their understanding of how to create, manage and maintain top-quality web and mobile applications. Low-Code represents a quicker time to market, better customer experience and increased productivity.

The Low-Down on Low-Code

Low-Code is a coding alternative that takes care of the heavy lifting. With enterprise teams looking to replace their manual systems with simple, accessible productivity apps, they need the ability to create and manage these applications with the right governance and technical consideration. 

Essentially, it’s the middle ground between traditional coding and no-code, a visual approach to app development. Through increased automation of software development, users are able to rapidly and efficiently create apps that help improve efficiency. 

It’s a more powerful tool than simple ‘productivity apps’, as it can quickly and easily work to power critical enterprise services. View it as the adhesive your tech stack needs for the acceleration of digital transformation.

In traditional enterprise businesses, there’s the chance of silos developing between the business side of things and IT specialists, as the language of IT is complex and not exactly universal. Low-Code development transcends these silos, bringing the wider enterprise closer to the application and their lifecycles. 

For example, let’s consider modern changes to enterprise business settings and the need for updated, integrated and user-friendly systems that enable better work. Low-Code applications that satisfy these requirements include:

  • Applications that bring together previously disparate databases and platforms. 
  • Developments that manage supply chain processes.
  • Predictive analytics.
  • Document and asset tracking - especially important for enterprise-level businesses.
  • Chatbots and live-information portals that improve customer service. 
  • Applications that service remote or flexible working needs.
Overall, the real power behind Low-Code for enterprise businesses is the seamless integration and built-in security offered by the tool. On top of that, there are the known advantages of rapid application development - being able to quickly and effectively get the apps you need live.

How Does Low-Code Work?

Numbered are the days spent writing code and syntax. Low-Code application platforms, such as OutSystems, utilise a drag-and-drop system interface to build applications, meaning that the need for traditional coding is minimal if not needed at all. 

Low-Code platforms usually contain a visual integrated development environment (IDE), where users can define interfaces, workflows and data models. In this space, hand-written code can also be created if needed (usually for front-end developments). They’ll also have connectors to a variety of services or back-ends, which allows the platform to handle storage, data structures and retrieval. 

By using Low-Code, an UI/UX designer can carry out front-end development, while the back-end developer can quickly prototype apps for consumers.

A Low-Code development application works to connect the data constantly accruing within your system with your business processes and offers a seamless user experience while doing it. It quickly and easily begins to help power your critical business services.

The best Low-Code application platforms will contain an application lifecycle manager, a variety of automated tools for building, debugging, deploying and automatically updating applications. This helps users and businesses stay on top of any required updates throughout the full lifecycle of the application. 

Who Is Low-Code For?

We’d argue that Low-Code is for anyone. Your IT teams will find it unlocks quicker time-to-market for them and the everyday employee will find that they can create solutions that fit their specific requirements. 

So who stands to benefit?

Professional Developers

66% of Low-Code users are professional developers that work in enterprise IT departments. They’re working to solve complex problems, but their solutions might take a lot of time to create, test and deploy. 

With the IDE and pre-built tools that Low-Code application platforms provide, professional developers can find a lot of innovative solutions to let their projects hit the ground running. Low-Code also provides them with the ability to extend apps with hand-written code and gain data from multiple sources through connectors. 

You can read about a professional developer’s first steps into the world of Low-Code here

Citizen Developers

Business users don’t want to wait for IT departments to have the right IT solution at their fingertips. With the constraints we’ve spoken about, it could be weeks or even months before they have what they need. Low-Code circumvents that problem. 

In short, with a little training, business users can build their own applications using Low-Code. With collaboration with IT through a Low-Code application platform, users are empowered to transform their work and the instances of shadow IT are reduced. 

And for those complete newbies, Low-Code application platforms can run using a No Code IDE, helping them to upskill and build basic applications without being put off by coding. OutSystems is a good example of this - the platform offers a suite of products that allow non-coders to contribute to app development utilising ‘experience’ and ‘workflow builders’. Pretty neat, right?

So, Low-Code is definitely a big part of the future of enterprise business’ technological strength and agility, but what kind of Low-Code development opportunities are available to you?

Discover Low-Code Development in Our Guide

Rapid application development has never been easier with Low-Code - the tricky part is choosing which provider to work with. Capturing digital optimisation is never a walk in the park but, with the right provider, any venture into developing efficient and fit-for-purpose applications is easily done. 

To explore what kind of services are available on the market today, alongside key insights on Low-Code, the differences in coding methodologies and why Low-Code is the right choice for any enterprise business, just click the button below to download your free guide. 

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