Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Christian Kelly, managing director at Accenture, and Sriram Sabesan, senior manager at Accenture.
Right now, a worrisome prediction is that a lack of IT skills worldwide and resulting inability to solve pressing business problems will fuel a $390 billion loss each year by 2025. Low-code/no-code (LCNC) is one of the key solutions for addressing this gap and the resulting backlog of projects that burden CIOs everywhere. And it's not arrived a moment too soon.
Low-code/no-code platforms have the potential to transform how applications are created, enabling people who are closest to customers and business users to deliver solutions and experiences, all with minimal involvement from the technology organization.
CIOs everywhere are excited about the opportunity, trusting that adopting LCNC could boost their agility and time to value all while bridging the skills gap and decreasing the strain on IT. Yet nearly a quarter of CIOs are still afraid of rampant shadow IT and the consequences it could have on security and the quality of their solutions.
The most likely reason behind these concerns is that these organizations haven't yet adjusted their operating blueprint and capabilities to fully embrace and take advantage of the distributed innovation that LCNC enables.
As many businesses still struggle to adopt Agile and DevOps to accelerate software development lifecycles, LCNC offers a pace of delivery that's significantly faster than anything seen before.
Low-code/no-code requires new operating models
To take full advantage of LCNC, CIOs need to adopt new operating models that match the technology's potential. These operating models must balance the needs of innovation, stabilization, and scaling – for the business and for technology – with all of these happening at once.
Enabling self-service citizen development allows CIOs to win the hearts and minds of the business and its existing pool of pro-code developers.
Rather than acting as the technology gatekeeper, CIOs and their IT organizations need to become the enablers of crucial business change and innovation. In this new environment, every enterprise and its technology team may have four distinct operating models:
- Citizen developers address the customer experience while being part of the product scrum teams (mostly citizen developer-led delivery)
- Business-user productivity improvements delivered by citizen developer-led scrum teams
- Enterprise controls and services delivered by pro-code scrum teams and innovation enablers (IT-led delivery)
- Scrum master, site reliability and release engineer experiences enabled by self-service solutions (mostly IT-led).
On top of these operating models, CIOs would benefit from thinking of capabilities as falling into different categories, notably those that are customer-facing, enterprise-wide or departmental.
That categorization can help determine the team compositions best suited to deliver each one, for example determining the right mix between newly empowered citizen developers and pro-code developers within the IT organization.
CIOs also need to create new engagement models that enable optimal collaboration between CISOs and chief data officers for security and data governance, as well as the new breed of tech-savvy business users on the frontline of understanding – and increasingly meeting – customer needs.
As we move into a world where the borders between "business" and "IT" are fading fast, there's a massive opportunity for forward-thinking CIOs to rethink how they work with and lead their organizations. LCNC is not only a key element to achieving higher productivity, it's also the way to get there faster.
To get started CIOs and other technical leaders should:
Implement new operating models
Start including citizen developers in scrum teams but divide teams clearly between those focusing on user experiences and those enabling innovation such as endpoint creation.
To ensure smooth delivery, develop a new group of solution architects and program managers at the business level that will focus on overseeing LCNC-based innovation.
Segment and rationalize your technology portfolio to fit the new model
Start by evaluating the existing applications that will be migrated to LCNC. Then, define a cloud-enabled portfolio around AI, machine learning and mobile experiences to create solutions that require minimal investments and pro-code developers.
Allocate funding to LCNC-enabled innovation
Current LCNC platforms still suffer from shortcomings that result in a high churn rate in solution usage. This is due to a disconnect between the expectations of enterprises and the priorities of platform providers that needs to be bridged.
In the meantime, it's in CIOs' best interest to take charge and drive the platform providers to expose more of the inner workings of their platforms, such as understanding automated code generation or workflow restarts.
Another area of focus should be to push for the creation of joint options for supporting citizen developers and simplifying efforts to address security concerns.
Over time, these operating models will need to evolve to balance the mix of pro-code and citizen developers while CIOs collaborate with platform providers to drive maturity.
Early efforts should focus on aggressively driving the growth of secure API end-points (edge, SaaS, enterprise-core), creating frameworks for outside-in experiences and inside-out process transactions and enhancing platforms' supportability.