With every innovation in application development, there is skepticism around the value and outcomes. Low-code, popularized in North America three years ago, is emerging as a powerful new platform for IT departments around the globe who embrace agile methods and want to rapidly create, test and iterate new applications.
The fact is, that companies who use a low-code platform are successfully launching enterprise scale, complex applications that are integrated with multiple databases and legacy systems.
As part of their own exploration of low-code, many will ask, "Can you trust the hype?
We think the better question is, "Is low-code right for my organization?"
Those who quickly dismiss low-code platforms commonly refer to the three most common myths of the practice:
- Low-code applications are for citizen developers, not software professionals.
- Low-code applications eliminate the need for any programming, and thus can only address a very limited feature scope.
- Low-code platforms are good for building only small scale applications.
Let's address each in the context of the question of business fitness, and help assess if low-code can be right for your organization.
1. Low-code applications are for citizen developers, not software professionals
It is true that low-code gives IT departments the option to expand resources and re-focus senior level talent. That is a benefit that nearly every development leader can get behind.
Citizen developers are people with business backgrounds usually, but not always, outside of the IT department. They can use the simple drag-and-drop functionality of a low-code platform to quickly bring their own ideas to life. This is a tremendously powerful approach, as there is no longer a need for anyone to transfer their vision into development specs. Plus, pretty much on their own, they can align data and functionality to quickly see how their idea can - or cannot - add value to customers or colleagues. Low-code platforms have quality controls so that the IT department can manage and secure the final code outputs. This is a benefit that most low-code platform evaluators can quickly see and appreciate.
However, professional software developers can also benefit from low-code. First, it's a very efficient way to quickly generate quality code. Most baseline code does not require advanced skills, but is developed as a foundational base onto which more advanced code connects. Even this more custom code can be written on low-code platforms. This helps keep all applications on the same platform layer, consistently following the same architecture guidelines set by the IT department.
We call this platform layer a "competitive layer" because it provides the company a consistent and secure application deployment and management structure where all applications can be managed, along with their connections to legacy ERP, CRM or other systems.
2. Low-code applications eliminate the need for any programming, and thus can only address a very limited feature scope.
No, low-code does not replace software development. Some business leaders might be sad at that notion as they recall long development cycles and competitive market pressures that demand rapid response; but IT leaders will likely rejoice in the recognition of the skills and experience their roles require. However, if you are seeking ways to improve the connection and effectiveness of business-IT teams, then low-code offers benefits beyond the actual code output.
If you are seeking ways to improve the connection and effectiveness of business-IT teams, then low-code offers benefits beyond the actual code output.
Low-code platforms provide just that - the platform. There are a lot of rapid development tools on top, which make it possible to rapidly create applications and concepts by both citizen developers and software professionals alike. The most likely advanced programming needed will be in the areas of data integration, security and custom configuration. One benefit of this is that business teams are encouraged to collaborate with their IT departments in a more agile and outcomes-focused manner. That is always good for project clarity and managing outputs.
3. Low-code platforms are good for building only small scale applications.
If your organization is committed to addressing customer (internal and external) needs quickly and effectively, then low-code is a great option for all your application needs, no matter how complex. Sure, the ability of low-code to quickly produce a working model of any idea - big or small - is a core benefit and really attractive to both business teams and IT project managers. It doesn't stop there, however. The low-code platform lets you rapidly expand your feature scope to customize as needed, and to add features to the first launch or MVP that would not be accessible under traditional coding approaches.
Several Flowfactory customers have low-code applications running at enterprise scale today - connected to multiple databases, meeting global runtime and security standards, and accessed daily by tens of thousands of users.
Download our free whitepaper about Low-code in Swedish. A guide to technology that can dramatically increases the speed of application development and at the same time enables harmonization of the application portfolio.