If you want to be a master, you must first master the basics
As more and more companies adopt low-code and leading media outlets publish article after article about it, we wanted to nail the basics first with you. Understanding the fundamentals of low-code is essential to getting a clear picture of the matter. Many loose information bits and pieces about low code are now scattered around the internet. We have collected and answered the most frequently asked questions about low-code. If you have recently discovered low-code, our FAQ will help you to get acquainted with the topic. Let’s start at the very beginning.
What is low-code?
Low-code is a visual approach to software development. Low-code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. It breaks the traditional silos of business and IT to promote continuous collaboration. Increased business demand for software solutions and a shortage of skilled developers have propelled the adoption of low-code development platforms to the forefront. With a low-code development platform, you don’t code an application line-by-line you draw it, like a flowchart. This makes developing powerful new applications quick and intuitive.
How long has low-code existed?
The global market research company Forrester was the first to use and introduce the term “low-code” in their 2014 report “New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer Facing Applications”. In their report, the authors draw the conclusion that “Hand-coding is too slow to develop and deliver many of the applications that companies use to win, serve, and retain customers.[…] Faster delivery is the primary benefit of these application platforms; they also help firms respond more quickly to customer feedback after initial software releases and provision mobile and multichannel apps.” Since then the demand of and business with low-code platforms has steadily increased. Today research and advisory company Gartner lists more than 100 vendors of low-code solutions.
What are the technical requirements to use low-code?
What are low-code development platforms?
Low-code development platforms are web or cloud services that can handle all steps of low-code development: Presentation, logic, business integration, data processing, and authentication or authorisation. It is a development environment that allows the user to add graphical elements together which are processed by the platform in the background. Low-code platforms abstract and automate every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. This means that there is no or very little contact with code.
What can I use low-code for?
Low-code can be used to improve internal business workflows e.g. by building applications that optimise processes of the supply chain, sales, marketing or HR administration. From an external point of view, low-code solutions can be used to create more value for your customers by publishing new or better customer touchpoints. Companies can further develop their product portfolio and diversify by offering more digital services. The possibilities are endless and only depending on each business’s own needs and creativity. Low-code solutions are not fixed to a specific use case or industry.
Healthcare providers make use of low-code platforms to improve their efficiency across the entire ecosystem. Data security and regulatory compliance are the top considerations when developing healthcare applications. Equipped with low-code tools, companies can easily build HIPAA-compliant and secure apps to fulfil specific requirements.
Apps built with low-code platforms are perfect tools to quickly drive customer excellence. Insurers applying this approach come up with rapid solutions like portals to track real-time claim status or omni-channel communication tools to cross-sell or upsell insurance products. Apart from improved customer engagement, low-code allows insurers to decrease underwriting and claims-processing costs.
Banking is one of the industries with a rapidly and constantly changing environment. New regulations across different jurisdictions and the rise of consumption in financial services make the low-code platform an excellent option to keep up with changes. The adoption of low-code tools helps banks support their customers through all channels of communications, internet and mobile banking, call centres, without spending a fortune.
Client Lifecycle Management and KYC empowered with low-code apps enable companies to promptly win customer loyalty among other competitors.
Low-code allows retailers and manufacturers to become more flexible. Companies can create custom business process management apps that facilitate the work of various departments, including sales, finance, purchasing, and inventory. For example, with the use of low-code tools, you can build an e-commerce platform in weeks completed with real-time inventory and order tracking. This swiftly created software streamlines the order fulfilment process and online sales.
What are the advantages of using low-code?
- Improves Productivity
Allowing business users to create their own apps saves a lot of time for developers. But it also improves productivity for business users as well. They don’t have to wait for developers to get to their request. Business leaders can create their own applications, so there’s no waiting in the middle between the idea and execution.
- Saves Money
It’s no secret that talented developers are in short supply and command a premium salary. But their talents are wasted on many projects, and a regular business user can do the same thing, as long as they have the tools to enable them. A low-code platform is a tool where they can do just that.
- Reduces Shadow IT
Business users frequently go to their IT departments with tools and application requests that they need. But because the IT department is backed up with requests already, these business users frequently turn to third-party solutions that can give them what they want. The problem with finding solutions like this is that these third-party solutions aren’t verified by the company’s internal IT department to be secure and complying with the company’s guidelines. Putting sensitive data into these solutions can be catastrophic. A good low-code application development platform can help reduce the amount of data put at risk.
- Improves Development Speed
Low-code development platforms are great at reducing the time taken for an application to hit the floor. Whether it’s a seasoned developer doing the coding or a layman, it doesn’t take as much time as traditional hand-coding. For seasoned developers, low-code application development is easier, and there are very few bugs to fix. For laymen, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping the modules they need and creating the application. Low-code app development is also lowering the barrier to entry for innovation. People with no coding experience can now create digital products. Besides this, it’s also expediting development cycles. Flawlessly functioning products and visually appealing designs can be created in a matter of minutes instead of weeks. That’s game-changing.
- Makes Maintenance Easier
With traditional applications, maintenance and upgrading take ages. Developers have to manually fix bugs and add new features. But with low-code application development, there are very few bugs to deal with. Since the modules available on low-code platforms are pre-tested to work together seamlessly, any new features can be added without worrying about compatibility.
Low-code development reduces the burden of software maintenance by abstracting the tedious plumbing work from day-to-day development. Now that components are standardised, pretested, and ready-made, there are far fewer bugs and integration issues to deal with than in the past. By spending less time on maintenance, developers can focus on innovative work that drives greater business value.
- Increased Productivity across Teams
Low-code development bridges the gap between IT and business teams so that both can solve real issues that impact the company. Business teams can create their own applications, without waiting for developers. Taking away complex code increases access to more team members regardless of skill, which enhances productivity. New ideas can be launched and iterated more quickly. In the long run, apps built with low-code platforms help organisations become more agile. Visual design that allows drawing instead of coding can exponentially speed up development.
- Rapid Prototyping
One benefit of low-code app development is it allows non-coders to prototype solutions quickly. These solutions can be tested, evaluated, and refined without having to involve formal software development staff members. Competing solutions can be compared, discarded, or merged to the point when they are deemed mature enough to be passed on to development for a more optimal implementation.
- The Freedom to Focus on Business Development
Like we have seen with website builders, low-code will allow people to build simple apps and websites that were surprisingly complicated to code before. People will be able to focus more on the business side of things. Everyone loves the idea of people quickly building an MVP, getting feedback quickly, adapting on the fly, and not escalating costs to do so. Solopreneurs are going to be able to benefit from this.
- Reducing the Barrier to Entrepreneurship
With the no-code movement at its peak, it has never been easier to test ideas and offer products, services or anything one could think of. This means that more people in their bedrooms, garages, and small shops can start new businesses and grow their existing markets without significant investment in IT agencies and consultants. Individuals can now do more things with less capital
- Faster Transformation
In today’s digital world, transformation is needed. Low-code development removes complexity from building great, modern business apps. And, reduced complexity means smoother sailing. With these low-code benefits, organisations are better equipped to quickly adapt and respond to fast-changing business conditions.
With low-code development, companies essentially become software companies thanks to how quickly they are automating processes with new technology. The plethora of new solutions developed within such a short timeframe promotes faster digital transformation.
Enabling employees to be more technical with low-code tools and solve specific problems pertaining directly to them will speed up processes. It is always good to motivate people to solve their own problems and IT just happens to be a big one. If they have the right tools, it will not seem as unobtainable as the scary thought of “application coding” probably has been in the past. We can see this as a huge transformation for a lot of companies and one that will show positive results in years to come.
What does low-coding cost?
Most low-code vendors offer free trials to test their development platforms. Full functionality and a high number of users require a paid subscription. This subscription differs from vendor to vendor, it is therefore recommended to test each platform regarding one’s own needs and see which one would best serve your purposes. Depending on every business’ plans and requirements it is also possible to negotiate prices directly with the vendors.
What does low coding look like?
Low-code is a visual approach to software development. Low-code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. Visually, the conceptualisation of an app with low-code is usually laid out in flow chart like screens, where modules can be added, removed, and changed with drag-and-drop.
How long does a typical low-code project take?
There is no “typical” low-code project and there are many circumstances that have an influence on the delivery time. According to leading low-code development platforms, the production time for projects such as building apps can be halved.
How can my company use low code?
Companies interested in low-code development can use the free trial versions which the low-code development platform vendors provide in order to get an overview of the technology and its areas of application. Afterward, they can start developing their own low-code projects. Furthermore, there are also official specialised partners of those low-code development platforms who can be consulted for advice and development.
Will low-coding play a role in the future?
Thanks to the acceleration of digitisation initiatives within all industries due to Covid-19 and the at the same time, less available IT workforce because of the worldwide IT talent gap, low-code is predicted to become a mainstream software development technology in 2021. Market researchers Forrester and Gartner both expect 75% of all application development to be built with low-code technology.
What is the difference between low-code and no-code?
Low-code is a visual approach to software development. Low-code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. With a low-code development platform, you don’t code an application line-by-line, you draw it like a flowchart. This makes developing powerful new applications quick and intuitive. Still, individual code can be implemented where necessary, which makes it a quick and powerful technology to develop new solutions.
No-code on the contrary only consist of modules that can be dragged and dropped, similar to a website CMS system. Obviously, this method is more tailored for non-traditional computer scientists. Because of its fixed composition options, it offers developers less flexibility in creating software.
Published by by Denis Fortmann
February 9, 2021