The Need for Speed: Pick Your Low Code Wisely

By Anurag Shah

CTO

Newgen Software

October 11, 2021

Story

Speed is of paramount importance for organizations in these increasingly dynamic times. The ongoing pandemic has infused even more flux and uncertainty, making agility even more critical for organizations.

Per a recent McKinsey study[1], the “need to react more quickly to market changes” has been cited as the most significant reason by leaders for making organizational changes during the pandemic. So much so that speed has become the top priority, beating the usual suspects such as the need to reduce costs, increase productivity, or engage more effectively with customers.

This need for speed is not limited to the need for operational responsiveness. Today, strategic agility matters more than ever. For instance, how fast you launch a product or adapt your service catalogue or marketing message can make all the difference.

Organizations are forced to look at the process of delivering outcomes, going all the way back to how digital technologies can be leveraged to improve strategic agility. And, it is for this reason that low code is quickly rising in prominence on the digital technology leaderboard.

The Rise of Low Code

Low code equips you with the ability to develop your applications faster. This helps because in this increasingly digital world your applications form a large chunk of how you engage with your customers and deliver products and services to them. Low code platforms help you deliver these applications – digital vehicles – more efficiently and with a shorter time to market.

They do this by employing visual, declarative techniques instead of programming to build applications, accelerating the pace of pro developers and allowing business experts to lead or participate in solution delivery[2].

The rise of low code is not surprising. According to Gartner Research, by 2024 low code application development will be responsible for more than 65 percent of application development activity[3].

However, it is important to acknowledge that not all low code platforms are the same.

Not All Low Code Platforms Are Created Equal

One common perception about low code is that it can be used by business users, aka citizen developers, to develop applications quickly without any involvement from engineering. While may be in some cases, it cannot be farther from the truth in others.

Low code platforms range from no-code platforms that support simpler applications to robust “enterprise-scale” process automation platforms that enable rapid development of even complex mission-critical applications.

If you want to implement simple workflows with few steps that do not cross departmental (or organizational) boundaries often, then a no code platform – the one that citizen developers can use – may suffice.

However, as the complexity increases, you need pro-grade development and architectural capability. This is because no matter how simple the applications look today, they eventually evolve and demand scalability, interoperability, integration, security, and maintainability.

As MWD Advisors suggest[4], low-code platforms aren’t only for small-scale, departmental apps that solve team coordination problems. They can also be very effective in turbocharging the efforts of technology development teams in addressing mission-critical issues – making them more productive and more able to make changes faster and with confidence. The trick lies in knowing how to spot a production-ready low code platform.

Follow the “Horses for Courses” Strategy

A typical large organization has thousands of applications spread across functions and geographies. An approach that works for a simple departmental application – such as a security gate pass generation or a simple discount calculator for a limited set of channel partners – will not work for even the same process for a larger location or more extensive set of partners. As you support more functions and processes, the variety of requirements increases exponentially.

Similarly, technological aspirations can alter complexity patterns that determine the required platform functionality. What works for a mobile-only application will not work for an omnichannel process.

Gartner Research anticipates that most large organizations will have adopted multiple low code tools in some form by year-end 2021[5]. However, they also add that, as companies embrace the tenets of a composable enterprise in the long term, they will turn to low code technologies that support application innovation and integration.

It boils down to the functional depth of the low code platform. A fully functional low code process automation platform combines various capabilities to enable speed. It should:

  • Support fast and agile development of simpler applications and at the same time accelerate pro-grade development of complex, mission-critical applications
  • Support a variety of requirements, such as workflows, data, and content integration; straight-through processing; omnichannel; cloud/hybrid deployment; and so on
  • Enable compliance, privacy, and security through auditability and traceability
  • Enable better IT control with central governance, visibility, and guardrails

The drivers of low code vary from immediate and urgent to strategic and long-term. While deciding on your low code platform, it is critical to crystalize priorities and accordingly choose a platform that yields immediate operational speed and the much-needed strategic agility.

References:

  1. The need for speed in the post-COVID-19 era—and how to achieve it
  2. Now Tech: Rapid App Delivery, Q1 2019, Forrester Research
  3. Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, August 2019, Gartner Research
  4. Low-Code Platforms – Ideal to Drive Rapid Digital Transformation, MWD Advisors
  5. Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Low-Code Development Technologies Market to Grow 23% in 2021, Gartner Research
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Anurag Shah heads Newgen’s products & solutions division in the Americas, including the Caribbean, South, and Central American regions. He also leads GSI relations as well as the consulting and pre-sales in the Americas. He has been with Newgen for over 22 years and in his previous role, he has led and managed delivery and professional services for enterprise customers.

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