In recent months, the topic of low code has resonated as a new method of application development. Low-code is a method that elevates encoding from textual to visual. Rather than a technical coding environment, low-code operates in a model-driven, drag-and-drop interface.

By 2025, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives. The analysis also found that around 70% of users who had no experience using low-code platforms learned to develop meaningful applications within a month.

We bring you an article on why low-code is a hot topic, its advantages, but also challenges associated with low-code.

What is low-code and why is it important?

Low-code (LC) is an application development approach. It combines tools that simplify the entire development process to enable accelerated delivery of business applications. Low-code requires little to no coding skills. Different low-code platforms provide thousands of elements/blocks ready to use – customer can just connect them, designing individual processes, automating various tasks in several clicks. Visual approaches to solution development such as graphical user interfaces, drag-and-drop options and point-and-click interfaces can be applied without need in a traditional code. In combination with numerous out-of-the-box accelerators (e.g., BI module, workflow engine, etc.) this allows organizations to build better enterprise grade applications faster.

Analysts predict that low-code will become the preferred software development method by 2025. Gartner states that up to 70% of all business applications will be developed through low-code platforms (Forecast Analysis: Low-Code Development Technologies, Gartner).

Low-code is a software development approach that enables delivery of high-quality applications up to 10x faster than traditional development and with minimal hand-coding.

If set up properly, low-code tools can deliver solutions with a limited involvement of IT departments, support improved collaboration, adopt agile ways of working, and reduce the IT backlog.

Low-code bridges the gap between the IT infrastructure and business users to fulfil their specific process requirements.

Low-code gives organizations flexibility to reuse solution components in various applications reducing the total cost of ownership. Most low-code platforms offer multi-device experiences out-of-the-box providing end users with a consistent experience on any device.

Additionally, some 70% of users having no experience before using low-code platforms learned in one month or so to develop meaningful apps. This allowed them to quickly build smaller scale applications for their departments themselves. 

Low-code not only enables organizations to solve distinct problems like RPA (robotic process automation), workflow customization and business intelligence. It also provides business with maximum flexibility required to succeed with digital transformation initiatives.

Two thirds of enterprises in EMA region already use low-code, piloting it, or have concrete plans on the first projects (KPMG).

Advantages for using low-code technologies may include:

  • Increased agility through tailored solutions for each company/department on a stable platform
  • Higher cost-efficiency through the utilization of citizen developers
  • Reduced maintenance and flexible rollout of updates due to the use of pre-built modules
  • Support for innovation by speeding up development cycles
  • Gradual and modular replacement of legacy systems
  • Systematic workflow automation in a very short time

By 2025, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives (Gartner).

Customers priorities

Leaders in large European firms focus on collaboration across employees and their ecosystem. Multiple business problems can be rapidly resolved with low-code by front-line teams rather than having to be added to a central execution team's lengthy backlog.

Reducing the time-to-market is perhaps the greatest competitive advantage of low-code.  IT backlog and external service partners are usually focused on large and complex projects. That backlog in many cases prevents a business from delivering simple but much-needed initiatives to respond market demand in a timely manner. Through low-code core business functions, with the support of operations teams, can significantly speed up time-to-market for their new apps and features.

Top 10 benefits of low-code according to the customers surveyed within KPMG study*)

  1. Increase in process efficiency
  2. Increase employee productivity
  3. Cost reduction
  4. High flexibility and scalability of the applications
  5. Higher degree of automation
  6. Improving the range of services and product quality for customers
  7. Faster time to solution
  8. Increasing digital skills
  9. Shorter release cycles
  10. Expansion of the product and service portfolio

The time is now

Ways of work also changed significantly last three years in most organizations. At the moment, approximately 10% of the global workforce are those born between 1996-2010. By 2030, more than one third of employees and leaders will be from generation Z. Moreover, these individuals are growing up tech savvy, think mobile first, and know way more about manipulating data than most Gen Xers.

A strong leader, or at least the one who plans to not retire by 2030, should be looking for ways to harness the skills these young professionals bring to the workplace. As they'll be digital-first in their mindset, it is worth calling them digital citizens, no matter what their job is. And as such, their skills from technology to operations and sales will be useful. You can bet the farm now that low-code/no-code philosophy will be a part of their DNA.

Therefore, the time to start preparing for the impact these employees will have on your company and its culture is now.

There are three important factors to consider when making low-code the solution to be used by digital citizens. These include:

  • Provide visibility
    Surfacing common components, data, and application interfaces that employees can leverage and educate them on functionality/purpose of existing tools
  • Improve data access/storage
    The technology team must be involved in cloning common components that users can utilize, so that experiments/piloting don’t spoil the components and processes others use/rely upon.
  • Build a low-code Center of Excellence
    When new ideas or requirements come in, you need a central body to make key decisions, establish governance model, controls, and promote best practices.

Low-code is more than a technology enabler or a culture change agent - it has become a translator into the world of technology for people who are not technologists.

However low-code is neither an ultimate response, nor a one size fits all solution. Low-code's purpose is to deliver business value, but it does not fix things that don’t work.  

Top 10 challenges with low-code (according to the customers surveyed within KPMG study*)

  1. Too complex to maintain/implement
  2. Lack of employee acceptance
  3. Lack of management acceptance
  4. Lack of transparency across low-code platforms
  5. Danger of Shadow IT
  6. Not applicable for complex questions / solutions
  7. Lack of skills in IT
  8. Security concerns
  9. Difficulties in integrating into the existing landscape
  10. Lack of business case

A well-structured master data management as well as a sophisticated governance strategy are prerequisites for such apps’ adoption in the organization. Leaders must also manage the risk of too many people 'banging away' for incremental improvements to their job, which can lead to inconsistencies in design, control standards, and support needs.

Recent developments in generative artificial intelligence (AI) will also impact low-code landscape. For example, in some cases large language models already provide customers with a ready to use script/code in response to general request/brief description of desired functionality.

Adopting low-code can have game-changing benefits for a business. However, successful adoption is often a result of proactively established communities of practice and governance models that enhance democratized development benefits of low-code efforts rather than inhibit them. 

[*] The study "Shaping the digital transformation with Low-Code platforms“ was designed and conducted by techconsult GmbH, represented by KPMG

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