The allure of low code has enticed tech leaders for years. The concept that software apps can be built by drag-and-drop capabilities changes the way applications can be built, the speed to market and who can build them.
By 2024, low code is expected to power almost two-thirds of application development, according to a Gartner prediction last year.
But investments hinge on ROI measurements and tangible use cases. As low-code solutions continue to prove fruitful for enterprises, more companies might see the value in implementing the technology. Here are two enterprise examples of low-code technology.
Solving for app backlogs and talent
At Park Industries, a stone and metal manufacturer, tech leader David Lloyd said the company struggled with an intensive app backlog, inconsistent data, a reliance on legacy systems and a lack of needed tech talent.
Lloyd had a team of two developers with a number of systems to maintain. He was looking for a solution that would add the support and visibility needed but not cost a fortune.
“It’s not a unique problem, but I initially went in thinking I needed to hire a bunch of developers to get through, but it’s just not cost effective,” Lloyd, director of IT at Park Industries, said at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando Florida in October. “So we looked at replatforming the applications and our technology.”
It was important for the company not to feel stuck in whatever platform they ended up choosing. Vendor lock-in is haunting for companies with tight budgets, which might require a vendor switch if prices rise higher than initially expected.
“One of the biggest fears with low code is if you buy a platform, you’re stuck in that platform,” Lloyd said.
After shopping around, Lloyd landed on OutSystems, a low-code platform, to support the business.
“I really did shift to low code for the main reason of not being able to acquire the number of people we need and then be able to maintain those applications if we did it the same way that has been done in the past,” Lloyd said.
Since implementing low code, Park Industries is 10 times faster at developing software apps, takes less time to test and saves $250,000 annually.
The company spends 74% less on investment per app versus traditional development, Lloyd said.
For those toying with investing in low-code platforms, Lloyd suggests that leaders lean in.
“I think the biggest thing is getting over the fear of 'it’s too risky, it’s too big of a change' because you get the results much faster,” Lloyd said.
Framework for citizen developers
In a conversation about low code, eventually, the concept of citizen developers is bound to come up. As the talent crisis continues, businesses could turn to citizen developers to supplement staffing woes.
In September of this year, the tech unemployment rate fell to 2.1%, according to a CompTIA review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While job postings decreased month-over-month in September, employers were still looking to fill 302,000 technology roles.
The talent pool is shallow, yet more and more of the workforce is tech-savvy. Citizen developers offer a partial solution to a larger problem.
More than 2 in 5 enterprises has active citizen development initiatives in 2019, according to a Gartner survey.
At ServiceNow, low-code and no-code technology has allowed citizen developers to embrace building software apps. Around 100 new apps have been built and deployed in 2022 at the company. Of those, around 68% were deployed by citizen developers, according to the company’s chief digital officer, Chris Bedi, speaking during the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo.
One of the most notable cases at ServiceNow related to success in citizen development came by way of a college sophomore marketing intern. The intern’s job was to validate press releases which included a lot of tedious, repetitive tasks, according to Bedi.
The intern had no previous experience coding or developing apps but joined the company’s citizen developer program and within 3 weeks was able to build an app that fulfilled her and her colleagues’ need, according to ZDNet.
For there not to be an influx of copycat apps, most enterprises emphasize the use of guardrails and governance models.
The company’s framework for citizen development has five simple steps:
- Enroll: The first step is for potential citizen developers to submit their idea.
- Evaluate: Then the developer will connect with IT to evaluate the idea.
- Enable: If approved, the employee will go through a training and once completed earn a badge as proof.
- Develop: Only after these steps will a citizen developer actually begin building, testing and iterating.
- Deploy: Once the app is ready for deployment, IT will help with the change management process and deploy it in production.
This framework enables all employees to create ideas for apps to support their work and help them work better while also making sure security standards are met and no two people are building the same app.