FEATURED STORY OF THE WEEK
Getting Started with Low-Code or No-Code (LCNC) Application Development
Organizations across industries are under pressure to transform their operations as they position themselves for greater resilience and growth. This places a great deal of pressure on IT teams, burdened with the digital transformation necessary for their employers’ long-term goals succeed. As organizations increasingly struggle to find technical talent, business leaders are hard pressed to find new pathways to digital transformation and success.
Low-code or no-code (LCNC) application development platforms and techniques make these new pathways available. As the logical next step in digital technology’s evolution, LCNC abstracts coding environments to make application development more accessible to nontechnical users. According to the 2020 No-Code Census Report, no-code application development platforms are 4.6 times faster, 4.6 times more affordable, and 4.8 times easier to use than traditional application development environments as well.
In this article, we explore opportunities for growing organizations to leverage LCNC environments, even without a large number of technical users on staff. We discuss use cases for platforms that support LCNC development, as well as key techniques business users should consider as they look into LCNC opportunities themselves.
What is LCNC Application Development?
Traditional application development—that is, the development of digital applications for mobile devices, tablets, PCs, and other computing environments—is a long and arduous process that requires technical expertise. Developers must understand programming languages such as Python, Java, or C++ to write the raw code on which new applications rely.
LCNC eliminates the need for highly technical coding skillsets so that nontechnical users can develop business applications themselves. Meanwhile, technical users can oversee processes for nontechnical users, ensuring their projects proceed rapidly from ideas to applications; they can quality check new LCNC-developed applications; and they can participate in other high-value activities outside of application development entirely.
LCNC environments require platforms that abstract raw coding for nontechnical users. They often employ “visual” elements, such as approachable user interfaces, which make application development easy and intuitive. As these platforms become faster and easier to use, they are growing in popularity—Gartner predicts that 80% of programing tasks will be delivered without any coding at all by 2024.
Common Use Cases for Low-Code Application Development
LCNC isn’t an ideal approach for all application development initiatives, but it has a growing number of use cases in today’s leading enterprises. After all, most business users have a keen sense of what they need in an application to make their jobs easier and more effective; now they can contribute to developing those applications themselves.
Some application use cases LCNC application development can support include:
. Simple or single-purpose mobile applications. Nontechnical developers can produce simple mobile interfaces for employees that delivers key services on the go. Marketers can integrate mobile app features with a company’s customer-facing mobile app as part of a unique campaign as well.
. Integration of data from disparate sources. Users can eliminate the need to manually combine records from separate systems as part of everyday labor by developing an application that automates those processes.
. Streamlining backend operations. Users can develop an application that executes one or a series of backend processes—not through highly technical manipulations, but by simply “flipping a switch” via a simple interface in the LCNC-developed application.
. Building webpages quickly. Users responsible for developing webpages on a recurring basis (e.g., to promote products or frequent events) can access an application that streamlines the webpage development process—no coding required.
What LCNC Application Development Can Do for Your Business
Today, roughly 300 vendors cater to the LCNC market, VentureBeat reports. Competition between these providers means companies interested in LCNC application development are in an ideal position to begin. Many of these platforms include out-of-the-box features and benefits so that nontechnical users can begin quickly and easily as well.
This shift in the application development field means nontechnical employees of all kinds can rapidly bring their ideas to life and share them with colleagues for vetting and implementation. This is already occurring at an unprecedented scale, even within individual companies—a pharmaceutical company adopted a low-code platform and grew its user base from 8 to 1,400 in just one year, McKinsey reports.
3 Successful Techniques for Long-Term LCNC Success
Even with the accessibility modern LCNC platforms provide, nontechnical users need some familiarity and guidance to successfully develop worthwhile applications. Here we take a closer look at three techniques that will ensure both nontechnical developers and business leaders begin their LCNC journey with the right footing.
1. Align early applications with achievable, scalable objectives.
To begin, leaders should limit the scope of their initial LCNC development to only a few target areas within their organizations. Choosing the right processes and users means balancing potential benefits and the ease with which early adopters can deliver some positive results.
Example use cases for which nontechnical users can develop early applications include:
– Automating familiar but tedious daily tasks
– Digitizing paper-based processes and information exchanges
– Abstracting repetitive workflows with a single, simple user function
Business leaders can tap a skilled, technical developer to ensure the emerging applications are effective, optimized, and scalable to other parts of the organization as well. This ensures initial projects yield results and drive interest among employees across the organization.
2. Focus on building collaborative competencies rather than replacing IT.
Use your LCNC platform investment as an opportunity to build a community around learning, sharing, and ideas. Nontechnical developers should feel energized to come up with their own solutions and reduce their dependencies on IT resources. Companies that “empower ‘citizen developers’ in these sorts of ways score 33 percent higher on innovation compared with bottom-quartile companies,” McKinsey reports.
Even so, organization leaders should ensure skilled technical developers are involved in both the rollout and ongoing oversight of LCNC application development among nontechnical employees. In this way, technical teams are available to nontechnical developers for questions and guidance, without putting a heavy burden on those teams in terms of application development responsibilities. Organization leaders then can “expect to see new hybrid teams emerge, with business users and professional developers building apps together with low-code tools,” as Forrester describes.
3. Establish a ‘Center of Excellence’ that convenes to identify LCNC opportunities and strategies.
Gartner estimates that at the end of 2021, most large organizations will have already adopted not one but several low-code tools. Organizations can manage these tools and ensure nontechnical employees use them successfully by centralizing guidance, resources, and low-touch oversight on LCNC initiatives.
Creating a “center of excellence” (CoE) for LCNC initiatives within the organization can help. Business leaders within the CoE can work with employees to identify new use cases for LCNC applications as they emerge; and technical leaders within the CoE can provide guidance, support, and quality assurance as new applications are developed. Both business and technical leaders can make decisions about LCNC platform adoption as well, ensuring the organization aligns all LCNC initiatives with real business results.
Conclusion: Ensure an End-to-End Digital Approach
Already, leading technology firms like Google, Microsoft, and Oracle are offering their own LCNC platforms as part of their portfolios of solutions. Spending on low-code platforms will reach $21.2 billion in 2022 with a compound annual growth rate of roughly 40% as well, Forbes reports.
LCNC is therefore positioned to change digital capabilities for good—and make all industries more competitive. As you begin your LCNC journey, keep realistic, near-term results in mind. But as you develop your internal LCNC competencies, use cases, and oversight, don’t hesitate to develop a mindset for long-term, end-to-end digital transformation as part of your LCNC initiatives.
Learn More About Low-Code or No-Code (LCNC) Application Development with Uvation
Uvation can support your organization as you begin new LCNC or other application development initiatives. Visit our Custom Application service page to learn more, or start a conversation with one of our experts today.