The Low-Code / No-Code Revolution

Today’s businesses must move quickly or get left behind. Companies have found many ways to become more agile, and one of them is enabling non-IT professionals to build their own applications. The technology that makes this process possible is known as low-code/no-code (LC/NC) design.

While the process may require some hand-holding from IT team members, their involvement may be much less intensive, allowing them to focus on more critical tasks like digital transformation projects.

The enhanced agility enabled by LC/NC development allows organizations to accelerate time-to-market, increase productivity, reduce costs, and drive innovation. In addition to assisting teams in responding to what’s happening in their markets now, it helps companies rest assured that they are prepared to respond to future changes without making investments in potentially unneeded development and deployment.

So, what are some of the use cases for LC/NC development? Is it something your business should consider? Below we answer these questions and more. But first, let’s take a closer look at exactly what LC/NC development is.

Low-Code and No-Code Defined

LC/NC development allows users to engage in visual programming interfaces rather than having to write code. Low-code tools are appropriate for those who know a little code, while no-code options are better for those who have no coding experience.

These methods are known for creating a way for non-IT professionals to develop applications, but IT professionals can use them too, especially when they need to create quickly. The following video explains more about the differences between low-code and no-code:

The idea of LC/NC is to make development accessible to those without prior programming experience. It’s similar to how Excel brought database functionality to ordinary users when it was first introduced.

Industry Examples

Many industries can use LC/NC tools to create customer-facing applications that coordinate with complex back-end systems. Here are just a few examples.

Education. LC/NC development can be used to create applications that measure learning outcomes, especially in different educational environments, such as varying class sizes or — as has become much more relevant in the past couple of years — online versus in-person classes.

It can also be used to integrate digital platforms, such as enrollment management and learning management. Additionally, it can be deployed to create apps and websites for specific purposes, such as contact tracing.

Finance. Financial service companies can use LC/NC development to build customer-facing apps that integrate with back-end systems, working across multiple platforms. Such apps can support a variety of functions, such as enabling customers to check their balances.

Healthcare. Similar to financial companies, healthcare providers can use LC/NC development to create apps that integrate with back-end systems and give patients access to their own information or enable them to provide information, such as symptoms. The building blocks of LC/NC platforms can be worked to be HIPAA compliant.

Logistics. Transportation companies can use LC/NC apps to support such activities as inventory management, barcode scanning, and delivery notifications.

Retail. In addition to customer-facing applications like those mentioned above, retailers can use LCNC tools to create systems to perform operational tasks such as managing inventory or processing orders.

Is Low-Code or No-Code Right for Your Business?

While LC/NC solutions bring benefits, they also present certain challenges. Companies should be aware of these considerations before jumping into LC/NC development.

Data security. LC/NC development offers building blocks that include security-conscious code, but the level of security can’t be guaranteed. For applications with strict requirements in this area, companies should turn to skilled developers who write every line of code with security in mind.

Performance. Similar to the security issue, applications that require a certain level of performance are best written from scratch by an experienced developer, as code generated from an LC/NC source may not achieve desired performance goals.

Accessibility. Applications created using LC/NC development may also be lacking in terms of accessibility needs, such as screen reading. Coding from scratch or optimizing code developed using LC/NC development could be a better approach for companies that serve end users with accessibility requirements.

ROI. The use of LC/NC application development may be less expensive up front but may cost more in the long run, due to being less efficient and using more resources. Conversely, code written from scratch is more expensive up front but may offer a better return on investment as the application is deployed over time.

What to Watch For

In the coming years, LC/NC development will be used to create more applications for collaborating and configuring data collection in specific ways that are helpful for unique company and team needs. Additionally, development teams, traditionally composed only of IT professionals, will start to incorporate non-IT professionals as well, working together to solve business problems.

These trends will likely contribute to big benefits for businesses, especially smaller ones that can’t always afford to hire developers to bring their visions to life. As the operations/IT divide narrows, businesses will be better and more quickly able to implement new strategies without IT limitations or delays that may have stalled progress in the past.

Flexibility Is Key

The rise of LC/NC comes at the perfect time to offload some tasks for IT professionals whose workloads have increased considerably as a result of the pandemic. Still, LC/NC application development isn’t always the right choice.

The important thing to remember when considering whether to use LC/NC development is that it doesn’t have to be a yes-or-no decision. Companies can deploy these tools to develop applications when considerations like security, performance, and accessibility aren’t as critical, and expert-generated code when they are. The ability to go in either direction gives organizations greater flexibility and — therefore — greater power to create, innovate, and serve customers well.

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