Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Kevin Goldsmith, CTO at Anaconda.
After another year of pandemic-induced remote work, IT departments feel the crunch of the rising demand for coding skills coupled with fewer available developers in the talent pool.
Amid a global labor shortage, there is particular concern about the lack of specialized data science talent, which many executives see as critical to sustaining profitability. Overwhelmed organizations turn to AI solutions, which promise to integrate powerful data capabilities into easy-to-use platforms for business professionals.
Low-code/no-code (LCNC) tools can bridge the gap between developer expertise and business needs by creating a new class of nonprogrammers. LCNC adoption rates are rising every year, and Gartner projects that 65% of app development will be low-code by 2024.
The most critical advantage LCNC tools provide is their ability to empower those without a background in coding or free up time for data scientists to tackle more complex development. While there are simple use cases that nonprogrammers can pilot, like robotic process automation, LCNC tools have their limits.
Companies need to be aware of these limitations to make a clear-eyed assessment about whether LCNC tools will offer a return on investment. The challenge for businesses is striking a balance between the limits and the benefits of LCNC tools.
Performance and efficiency trade-offs
Low-code/no-code tools are primarily designed for ease of use, but this efficiency comes at cost — performance lags. LCNC tools sometimes lack the performance that customizations provide.
When developers have the power to fine-tune every aspect of the programs they write, they can wring out the best performance from their code.
But these platforms often lack the cybersecurity processing power of more complex programs. These limited security measures can leave LCNC vulnerable to security bugs and other digital threats.
LCNC platforms also have poor code visibility, which is crucial for developers to preemptively identify and mitigate security issues before a significant breach occurs. For less experienced users, the performance and security differences likely won't be noticed; however, those with more expertise will likely be all too aware.
Before implementing these tools, organizations should consider how trade-offs in performance will impact the target end-users.
LCNC tools can't replace programmers
While anyone can use LCNC tools to optimize their workflows, there's a misconception that they don't require any technical or coding knowledge.
Without a knowledge baseline, organizations using these tools are limited in the customizations and personalized adjustments they can make to fine-tune the output and functionality of their LCNC platforms.
Likewise, since low-code/no-code platforms are optimized for simple use cases, employees or practitioners must work within tight, platform-specific constraints when problems arise.
Tools with limitations will produce limited results, and unless you manage expectations, experienced practitioners and nonprogrammers may become frustrated. Those with less expertise are unlikely to unlock advanced capabilities; those with more experience will be limited to somewhat basic activities.
It's crucial to ensure high-quality inputs — LCNC tools are only as good as the information loaded into the platform.
For best results, organizations need to consider what they hope to accomplish, what level of domain knowledge is necessary, if they are using quality inputs, and whether an LCNC tool is the best solution.
A bridge between domain knowledge gaps
LCNC tools can help bridge the domain knowledge gap by allowing nonprogrammers with domain expertise to be more involved in the development process and empower developers to extend their knowledge.
While this doesn't turn domain experts into developers — nor make developers domain experts — it can help close gaps.
Organizations that adopt low-code/no-code applications to paper over gaps in developer talent may inadvertently overburden their already stretched-thin IT teams.
Yet, with proper understanding of abilities and limits, low-code/no-code platforms can accelerate transformation and enhance competitiveness in an increasingly digital-first world.