Recently, we wrote about how advances in low- and no-code technology are equipping businesses - no matter their size, budget or speciality – with the ability to innovate with AI. Essentially, this piece explored the fundamentals of low-code development and some of the opportunities available to smaller firms who may not be aware that a first-class AI experience is within reach.
In light of the media buzz and industry attention that surrounds the platform, the fanfare behind these products can sometimes be a cause for concern for some sceptical business leaders, who may expect low-code platforms to over-promise and under-deliver. Given that Gartner predicts that 65% of app activity will fall into this category by 2024, such hype warrants further investigation. Are the promises attached to enterprise low-code application platforms (LCAPs) overblown?
Visionary, or hyperbole?
For those unfamiliar with how low-code application platforms function, LCAPs typically involve the use of graphical interfaces to create application software. Remarkably, users can do so with little or no need to do any programming, at least in the traditional sense, themselves. By abstracting the code, these low-code tools and platforms give businesses the opportunity to speed up the app development process and lower the costs that would typically be attributed to hiring a team of in-house specialists to create a niche offering.
This all sounds perfectly reasonable so far – so why the suspicion? Much of the industry excitement hinges on the claims made about the wider industry value of LCAPs – that is, its ability to deliver continuous improvement to organizations, as well as the fact that anybody could use them.
Why citizen development offers real value
Where citizen development is concerned (the ability for all workers to build products with the help of low-code platforms), LCAPs do offer genuine value. In short, API and ‘drag and drop’ functionalities mean that tens of millions of additional people with no prior coding knowledge can create cutting-edge apps that cater to the exact needs of their organization.
Obviously, this application democracy is revolutionary for small businesses and SMEs, who may not be able to afford a costly development process. Moreover, the idea is that businesses – even larger firms – will be able to get more applications built by sidestepping IT departments, and empowering users to do their own development. What the headlines miss, however, is the fact that while these platforms are for all, some form of quality control must be in place.
In short, taking away the need to code like a developer doesn’t take away the need to think like one – so businesses would do well to consider a LCAP that offers some form of third-party expertise to hold their employees by the hand as they build novel apps. This knowledge will provide invaluable long-term value as firms look to add more functionality to their apps over time, which can add complications to the development process. Without this support, once-simple citizen development projects can begin to resemble unwieldy IT-driven deployments.
Focusing on the bigger picture
With the above in mind, some organizations may also be concerned about the prospects for long-term innovation, modification, and re-deployment.
Thankfully, armed with the right tools, businesses can craft and deploy applications quickly as well as making modifications and redeploying at pace, on an ongoing basis. Importantly, the best low-code providers have support mechanisms in place to help businesses throughout their implementation journeys for more structured deployment and change management.
As LCAP applications like ours increasingly enable firms to automate processes to boost their productivity, we think that low-code is something well worth shouting about. At Soffos, our specialty is helping organizations create pioneering apps with conversational artificial intelligence (CAI) and natural language processing (NLP) at their core. If you would like to learn more about how we’re doing this, click here.