BlogWhat is low-code?

September 14, 2020by Kelsey Hunter0

Low-code development accelerates the speed of software and app development – it is a special software development technique which uses visual application design and graphic modelling instead of traditional text-based programming.​

More organisations are realising the business value of low-code development platforms, along with how they provide solutions to common development problems like technical debt and process inefficiencies. Low-code offers the technical agility that companies need to innovate new applications and mission-critical systems (or adapt legacy technology). Faster services enhance the experience of both customers and employees, as well as the enterprise bottom line. Low-code bolsters the reliability, scalability and security of apps and systems significantly. It can also promote sound architecture, best practices and good technical governance. This evolution has led more organisations to consider the potential for low-code to revolutionise mission-critical systems and create seamless integrations. Low-code can also help organisations address the tech workforce challenge. It can empower skilled developers to work more efficiently, so they can focus their specialised expertise on more complex, less mundane aspects of programming. This strategy allows experienced developers to complete more projects faster. Meanwhile, low-code helps newer developers achieve productivity faster, and it can yield consistently better outcomes from outsourced development.


The key benefits of low-code are:

  • More efficient development processes, reducing both the time and expense of
  • Faster time-to-market for internal and customer-facing systems and tools.
  • Increased innovation, allowing organisations to capitalise on creativity and respond faster
    to changing business and customer demands.
  • Fewer technology problems through more consistent adherence to standards and security

The value of low-code becomes especially clear during digital transformation. Most organisations either already have a digital transformation initiative or are planning one. Yet, up to 70% of major enterprise transformation efforts fail to achieve their goals  — and one of the most common goals for digital transformation is to improve the customer experience to support business growth.

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How fast is software development using low-code?

OutSystems, one of the leading platforms for low-code technology, states that companies can double their speed of app development. In an example with Schneider Electric, they were able to produce 60 new apps in about 40 percent of the time previously needed before deploying OutSystems. These would include large applications for supply chain, sales and marketing.

Compared to the traditional “waterfall” development process and manual coding, low-code platforms support faster development and deployment of solutions. In low-code, most software can be created through visual representation, and large sections of the codebase don’t need to be written from scratch. In a low-code development environment, developers use a drag-and-drop interface to assemble existing functional units. All developed components can be reused by different applications and made available via various digital touchpoints, accelerating development and providing a consistent user experience. All software, web applications, and native mobile apps are automatically generated and reflect proven best practices and the latest security safeguards, thereby compensating for developer variations in coding style, security awareness or architecture expertise. This process supports consistency as the code base is constantly maintained, modified and extended. It has also been observed that code generated by low-code tends to arrive at internal quality assurance (QA) with fewer defects and performance issues. This is another way that low-code speeds delivery. It is less prone to coding errors.


How low-code benefits developers

Some developers have viewed low-code as a threat to their role or to software quality. But as low-code platforms have matured, several direct benefits to developers have emerged:

  1. Less drudgery. In most applications, only about 10% of the code is truly unique. Low-code enables developers to focus their skills where they are most needed, removing repetitive coding from their work.
  2. New developers get up to speed faster. New developers can attain full productivity faster with low-code tools. Typically, they also require less training and monitoring, giving senior developers more time to focus on the unique aspects of the application or system architecture rather than mechanics. This approach helps development teams to grow and diversify more smoothly, despite the ongoing tech talent shortage.
  3. Fewer problems. Generated code automatically adheres to current architecture and standards, so a developer’s work products have fewer errors that need correction. Also, deeper issues with software become easier to diagnose and fix with a more standardised, modular codebase.
  4. Enhanced job security. Low-code enables developers to build faster with fewer defects, which speeds release cycles. Increased productivity usually bodes well for job retention. Low-code also frees developers to innovate and experiment more, showcasing their creativity and initiative.
  5. Advanced learning. Low-code can allow developers more bandwidth to explore cutting-edge technology that can support top business objectives, such as artificial intelligence.
  6. Less isolation, more clarity. Often, developers are frustrated by unclear project requirements and goals, especially when created without their input. Low-code facilitates direct cooperation between IT and business users across the enterprise, bringing developers out of the IT silo and fostering a deeper understanding of the enterprise and its customers.

Low-code focuses developer skills where they are most needed, removing repetitive coding.

At many organisations (especially in industries that historically have not been considered part of the tech sector), the siloed nature of IT hinders digital transformation and business innovation. Most software engineers are highly creative individuals who enjoy building things that help other people. Yet, they usually work in relative isolation from the rest of the organisation, disconnected from larger goals, needs and opportunities. Low-code offers a unique opportunity for developers to engage and collaborate directly with other departments, and even with top leadership, which can encourage them to remain in a job, rather than jumping to a “sexier” industry or organisation. Cross-departmental collaboration can provide a greater sense of purpose to developers’ work, and deepen their connection to the mission of the enterprise. Especially during digital transformation, collaboration can allow developers to shine as a creative and guiding force for innovation.

Kelsey Hunter

Kelsey Hunter

Head of Marketing

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