Why Businesses Are Turning to Low-code Development
Friday, September 14, 2018
Posted by: Gary Hotze
David Brault, Product Marketing Manager, LANSA
I recently heard a quote that made me laugh, mainly because it’s true. “IT chases more trends than the fashion industry.” The problem with continually chasing trends is, besides being inefficient and expensive, it will compound our technical debt, increase our maintenance backlogs and impair business agility. For example, initiatives to enter new markets, launch new products or embrace the cloud and other digital transformations can stall because IT is challenged by the ramifications of adopting yet another new technology.
Moreover, application development isn’t getting any easier. It’s growing in complexity by needing to support multiple databases, server platforms and ever-changing web and mobile standards. Chasing application development trends is no longer viable. Gartner believes that by 2020, at least 50 percent of all new business applications will be created with high productivity toolsets – like low-code.1
What is Low-code?
Low-code development platforms enable software applications to be created fast and with minimal coding. Low-code shields developers from having to worry about how their project will be deployed across various devices, interfaces and platforms, enabling them to remain focused on quickly delivering business applications.
A low-code platform typically:
• Reduces the complexity of building enterprise-grade web, mobile and desktop applications for multiple form factors and server platforms.
• Shields developers from the technical underpinnings of application development and minimizes hand-coding.
• Simplifies integration of new applications with existing databases and back-end systems.
• Streamlines application deployment and lifecycle management.
Let’s take a look at the challenges the business, IT teams and developers face today and the transformative potential of low-code for enterprise application development.
For many business leaders, they view technology as the way to make innovation happen. Come up with a solution that solves a need and use technology to establish it quickly and make it work. Minimize the costs and maximize the profits.
For established businesses though, change presents additional challenges. Existing processes, roles and systems may need to be re-imagined. Legacy systems will need to be carried forward as new systems and applications are created to support the future business offering. The amount of work laid at the door of IT to both support the existing business operation and build the new business environment is more than with which many can cope.
Also, digital transformation initiatives – automating paper-based processes, creating a new application to support the future business or moving applications to mobile devices or the web and deploying them in the cloud – are fundamentally changing the way companies operate and deliver value to their customers. Contrast this with the reality that many businesses core processes are still run on spreadsheets.
Modern systems need to support current working methods, which can mean transforming these old processes into enterprise-grade, maintainable and reliable apps. For the business, low-code can allow application creation that is far quicker than traditional methods. As a result, the business model can be re-engineered quickly and will enable the flexibility needed to react to changing market dynamics and conditions. This new-found IT agility means viewing the technology as a business advantage instead of a roadblock.
The enormity of change technology has brought to businesses over the past ten years cannot be underestimated. Neither can the pressure on IT to deliver business transformation as the pace of market change has accelerated. As a result, software application backlogs have grown, resources have become stretched and budgets tightened.
Studies have shown that application maintenance can typically consume up to 80 percent of an application’s total life-cycle costs. For many developers then, maintaining existing applications is the bulk of the work and tends not to allow time for the addition of new skills.
Building new modern systems requires many different skills sets, which is a challenge for IT managers because it’s hard to recruit the people with all the right skills. For modern web, cloud and mobile applications, dozens of technologies often need to work together and finding developers with expertise in all is both problematic and expensive. This dilemma often results in companies having to hire many developers with different sets of specialized skills versus a small number of developers that possess many skills (i.e., full-stack developers).
For IT, low-code promises a more natural way to build applications and a faster way to deliver them to the business without being held up by an inability to find the right skills and resources. Suddenly, everyone on your development team becomes a full-stack developer that can contribute to any part of an application. Thus, the rate of application development increases, the size of development backlogs decrease and IT’s value to the business improves.
Software developers have their own set of challenges. The greatest is probably the pace of change in the software development industry. With the move to modern software development on the web, mobile and cloud, new languages, frameworks, plug-ins, modules and components appear almost monthly. How can developers keep on top of all the options available and how can developers ensure the choices made of which to use, are the right ones in the long-term?
Building the next generation of modern applications may require significant re-skilling of the development team. For those maintaining existing applications, there may be little opportunity for them to add new skills. Some developers will embrace the change, while others will prefer to stick with what they know.
For all developers, low-code development platform accelerates application development by eliminating the need to master the multiple technical skills customarily required to produce software applications. Low-code elevates application development to a higher level by enabling programmers to design enterprise-grade applications without hand-cranking low-level source code quickly.
Achieving Results with Low-code
In today’s fast-paced business environment, IT departments cannot allocate the time or resources to hand-code applications. Nor can they freely allow their teams to learn, implement and support the latest and greatest development languages and open-source frameworks on top of the languages they need to maintain existing applications. Look to low-code platforms to:
• Speed application development
• Reduce the maintenance burden
• Eliminate the IT skills gap
• Deploy cross-platform (mobile, web, desktop, cloud)
• Digitally transform business process
Low-code enables the creation of a new breed of applications designed to support the changing needs of the business, faster than ever before. Even as underlying software technologies may change, low-code shields developers from those changes allowing them to focus on the market need to drive change through new technology and software applications.
Interested in learning more? Check out this case study, download the Five Key Considerations When Selecting a Low-code Platform white paper or try LANSA’s low-code platform, Visual LANSA, for free!