Despite initial skepticism, low-code technologies and platforms can become an important workflow optimization for the future. […]
Software developers and architects have long been skeptical of low-code technologies. There is no reason for that anymore.
Today, sophisticated low-code platforms enable agile development teams to:
- to work more productively,
- to deliver better quality and
- deploy more frequently.
Software development professionals use low-code technologies to create applications, workflow integrations, data pipelines, data streams, dashboards, test automations or machine learning models.
“Low-code is a powerful concept that will be increasingly used in 2022. It frees up IT resources, provides specialist departments with highly customized software and ultimately supports digital transformation. However, low-code must be based on scalable data platforms and strict governance models. Otherwise, the abundance of custom applications can lead to a data silo nightmare,“ explains Brian Platz, co-CEO and co-founder of the Web3 data platform Fluree.
We talked to some professionals and experts about why technology companies should include low-code solutions in their enterprise architectures.
An OutSystems study on the growing threat of technical debt concludes that companies spend more than 40 percent of their IT budgets to avert technical debt – instead of maintaining operations or developing new features. The two most critical problems cited were the fluctuation in development teams and too many development languages and frameworks.
Low-code solutions are usually visual programming paradigms that are easy to understand and maintain even for development beginners. In addition, low-code platforms usually have APIs and other standardized extension options.
According to Jay Parnau, Senior Technical Success Manager at OutSystems, low-code technologies also simplify production support: “Before low-code, I spent half of my time as a developer avoiding new technical debts or being on call in case someone else’s mistakes crash a system at 2 o’clock at night. Now I can be sure that the low-code platform has my back when it comes to getting things right. Maintenance only requires a fraction of the work I had to do earlier.“
According to Rosaria Silipo, principal data scientist and head of evangelism at the analytics provider KNIME, low-code platforms can simplify communication and the collection of requirements: “A low-code tool based on visual programming could be your answer to communicating with departments that are less equipped with code knowledge. By using low-code tools, professionals can save valuable time that they can use for other problems – including those that require programming work.“
Gloria Ramchandi, senior director of product at the DevOps provider Copado, agrees and adds that low-code also helps the development teams to meet business requirements. “Senior developers and software architects had to keep up with the demand for faster software development. Breaking this ‘code barrier’ with low-code platforms helps teams to reduce the time to market for important builds and increase the speed of innovation.“
If it is easy to create applications, how can software architects avoid application silos? How can low-code help to integrate workflows between applications, software-as-a-service and enterprise systems? Chris Smith, developer advocate at the low-code provider Retool, is familiar with integration challenges of this kind: “The world of enterprise software is increasingly fragmented. There are hundreds of vertical-specific cloud applications that support all functional areas of a company to work more efficiently. These applications increasingly need to be integrated into business processes that are individual for each company. Developers welcome low-code platforms because they provide fast, functional building blocks that solve this fragmented integration problem.
But it’s not just about workflow integration. Software architects also need to think about how to integrate the growing number of data sources. According to Silipo, low-code tools offer an easy way to do this: “The data sources come from different providers and often do not offer standard access patterns. A low-code tool could take over this task and provide standardized, easy access to many different data sources.“
In addition to improving the employee experience and workflow integration, it is also important to automate business processes. According to Mahesh Rajasekharan, CEO at software provider Cleo, low-code platforms are also an option to automate more processes or reduce manual processes.
“One of the most important lessons from the COVID-19 crisis is the realization of how many manual business processes still exist in many companies and how much this has hindered their business during the pandemic. To reach a new level of automation, companies will use low-code technologies that will allow them to automate everything in order to eliminate risks and security gaps in core business-critical processes.“
Although general technical indebtedness is a challenge, monolithic systems are the real obstacle for many companies. The only question is: how can software architects ensure that what is being developed today will be easier to maintain, support and adapt to future business requirements tomorrow?
Microservices and serverless architectures are possible approaches at this point, but most companies simply cannot afford to apply these architectures to every business need. Zeev Avidan, chief product officer at integration provider OpenLegacy, is convinced that low-code can represent a paradigm shift for IT: “Low-code and no code can help revolutionize all aspects of IT – from front-end application development to the most complex legacy integrations. For many developers, one of the biggest hurdles in digital transformation is democratizing access to data and business logic that resides in core monolithic systems.“
There is no doubt that there is a growing need for application development, integration and automation in companies that are driving their digital transformation. Low-code platforms make it possible to expand development capacities by using pro-code options for the strategically important business cases and low-code as an accelerator for other business requirements.
*Isaac Sacolick is the author of the Amazon bestseller “Diving Digital: The Leaders Guide to Business Transformation thourh Technology”.
This article is based on an article from our US sister publication Infoworld.