What is Low-code and Why does it Matter?

HFS analyst Cyrus Semmence gives his view on low-code and enhanced automation.

Low code development platforms are platforms that allow the creation of automated workflows and software using visual and declarative statements instead of raw code to create the business or software logic.

However – in the hype to whet people’s appetite – some misconceptions about low code / no code need to be addressed, otherwise, in a few years’ time, we’ll be talking about the failure of low code. The idea that skilled developers can be replaced by citizen developers is false. You still need architects, solution designers, developers, testers, etc to build and deploy your whizzy new automation. The reason is that low code brings to the table the advancement of true rapid application development (RAD) capabilities due to reduced effort and errors as multiple lines of code do not have to be manually keyed in, which is tedious and can be incredibly time-consuming and leave room for errors and bugs. Instead, the logic is created with drag-and-drop types of functionality. To do this though, you still need people that know what they are doing, how to define the logic, create database schemas, understand the integration requirements with other systems, and to design around non-functional risks and requirements.

Why low-code matters and why we need to care

The work environment has changed. What worked when we were all in the office together suddenly becomes much harder to do when we can’t easily pop over to another department and ask a question about something or shout across the desk. This slows down processes and highlights previously hidden problems. For companies that have realized their business processes are inefficient, hard to make modify, and are only functioning because of human workarounds, low-code platforms offer a great solution.

Why will low-code platforms disrupt traditional software markets?

Once people start to get more comfortable with the concept then it’s likely the uptake of new purchases of CRM, ERP solutions will be impacted. I can’t see large corporates suddenly throwing out SAP or Clarity straight away and replacing it with their own in house low-code version. For smaller organizations that might balk at the cost of SAP and just stick with their old order processing system and excel spreadsheets and make do with the problems, no-code could be the door opener to modernize a lot of their systems. Combined with RPA where integration with the odd irreplaceable legacy system that doesn’t justify spending a fortune to replace, you have a great way to improve your business efficiency and ability to get to market faster. For the larger enterprises adding a low-code platform to their toolbox means they can quickly roll out point solutions to solve business process problems at the fraction of the cost of re-engineering existing software. In conjunction with a longer-term strategy, if planned properly they could be used to gradually phase out existing enterprise systems as a project instead of a major version upgrade on existing platforms.