Low-code development is a phrase you are likely hearing a lot lately. Many organizations are already utilizing this form of application development, and the vast majority plan to increase its usage in the future. Let’s examine two important questions surrounding low-code application development, starting with, what is low-code development? Secondly, is low-code truly the future of app development?
What is Low-Code and Its Future Impact?
The answer to the first question is fairly straightforward: low-code development is a method to build software applications faster by diminishing the need to write code. With a low-code application development platform, one uses visual development tools, such as drag-and-drop modelers, point-and-click interface creation, smart services, elements and pre-built connectors. They reduce the necessity to write code and facilitate business applications’ speedy design, deployment and maintenance.
The second question takes a little more consideration. According to a Gartner study, it is predicted that by 2024 more than 65% of all business applications will be built using low-code programming, with about 2/3 of enterprises employing a minimum of four low-code platforms. Based on these statistics, it is somewhat safe to say – yes, low-code is going to play a large role in the future of application development. Let’s assess in more detail exactly why low-code’s future appears so bright.
Benefits of Low-Code
The fundamental benefits of low-code solutions are speed and collaboration. The inclusion of pre-built components and integrations make it simpler to create sophisticated and powerful applications. More specific benefits include:
- Improved Agility– Low-code tools are designed to allow users to create and deploy applications fast and efficiently without extensive programming knowledge. Businesses gain the ability to be more agile, quickly developing and deploying the applications they need to support operations and respond to changing business needs.
- Lower Costs of Entry and Deployment– Low-code platforms often include pre-built components and features that can be assembled into complete applications. These features make it possible to develop apps in-house rather than paying for costly custom software development services.
- Small Business Staffing Issues– With little to no coding required, low-code tools are usable by a broad range of individuals within an organization, including those with no background in programming. Small businesses gain the ability to create the apps they need to support operations and respond to changing business needs, without the necessity of having a large IT staff.
- Higher Productivity– Low-code technology helps to streamline the development process and allows teams to be more productive and efficient. Development teams are able to focus on design and functionality, rather than spending time on the tedious and time-consuming process of writing code. Changes and updates that once took large chunks of time can now be nearly instantaneously implemented.
- Effective Risk Management and Governance– Organizations gain the ability to respond quickly to changing business needs or new regulatory requirements, reducing the risk of compliance issues. Additionally, built-in security controls help to protect sensitive information and reduce the risk of data breaches or other incidents. Furthermore, low-code platforms often include version control and other collaboration features, assisting in maintaining a clear audit trail and ensuring applications are developed, controlled and maintained consistently.
- Automation of Business Ideas and Processes– By offering pre-built workflow templates, low-code tools allow automation to be accessible to teams of all skill levels. Additionally, it permits these teams to handle related service requests independently without requiring more extensive involvement from IT staff.
- Democratization of Software Development– The addition of more people in the development process allows organizations to develop custom software quickly and efficiently. With the presence of enhanced collaborative features, it is possible for multiple individuals to simultaneously work on an application. This cooperation allows businesses to maximize limited staffing resources while fostering a more inclusive approach to software development.
Is Low-Code the Same as No-Code?
The term no-code generally suggests a platform is intended for non-professional developers. The reality is there is always code and software running someplace, but with these types of tools, the coding is hidden from the user. No-code solutions are typically marketed towards non-developers and small businesses as an approachable or entry-level option.
Due to their nature of not requiring the user to utilize any coding, customization is often relatively limited. However, it is worth noting that despite the lack of required programming language, some knowledge in development is often necessary to use the required visual modeling tools or if the organization wishes to make more advanced customizations via the addition of some code.
Example of Low-Code Usage in Business
Microsoft’s Power Platform is a low-code suite of applications that enables users to build custom applications, automate processes, and analyze data without extensive coding knowledge. It consists of four main components:
- Power BI– A business intelligence and data visualization tool that allows users to create interactive reports and dashboards from various data sources.
- Power Apps– A platform for building custom business applications without the need for coding.
- Power Automate– A tool for automating business processes by allowing users to create custom “flows” that are triggered and can integrate with other applications and services.
- Power Virtual Agents– Used to build chatbots and other conversational AI agents.
All organizations have bottleneck processes that slow everyone down. These procedures don’t add particular value but are ultimately necessary for operation. Such processes might include managing complicated Excel spreadsheets or approval processes that require constant emailing back and forth, resulting in digging through these emails for each request to get them to the right people. Power Platform’s low-code tools make it possible to build a better way to accomplish these tasks.
Another aspect worth pointing out is that for software an organization is already using, the Power Platform offers an extensive list of connections to those existing systems. If one is currently using a platform with specific APIs, chances are there is a connector already built into Microsoft’s Power Platform that allows access and interaction with that data. Ultimately, Microsoft’s Power Platform’s purpose is to fix processes minus the need for advanced coding expertise and is of particular value to smaller organizations that want to do things better without significantly draining limited resources.
What Does Low-Code Mean for Professional Developers?
With the exponential increase in low-code app development, it might be easy to assume that professional developers should be worried their value to an organization is decreasing. However, the reality is precisely the opposite. Low-code tools make experienced developers even more useful.
Low-code can be beneficial for professional developers for numerous reasons, including:
- Allows professional developers to be more productive. By permitting non-technical users to help create software applications, experienced developers can focus on complex tasks and on building high-quality software.
- Helps developers to stay relevant in a rapidly changing market. As the demand for software development continues to grow, low-code tools can help experienced developers quickly learn new skills and adapt to emerging technologies.
- Enables more collaboration with all stakeholders. Because low-code platforms allow non-technical users to participate in the software development process, skilled developers can more easily communicate and collaborate with other teams and departments within their organization.
- Assists experienced developers in creating more innovative solutions. Using low-code tools, developers can quickly prototype and test new ideas, helping them design creative and effective solutions to problems.
The aim of low-code platforms is not to cut out professional developers from helping an organization build its processes. Rather, it is about trying to make it easier for IT and business users to work together to create more efficient processes that work for everyone. Ultimately, low-code is valuable for professional developers, helping them to increase productivity, stay relevant and create innovative solutions.
Embrace the Low-Code Revolution
Low-code platforms will undoubtedly play an essential role in the future of software development. These tools not only save time and money but also allow more people to participate in the process, enabling businesses to be more agile and responsive. Low-code technology is revolutionizing the way software is developed and is poised to become a standard for application creation in the coming years. As it continues to evolve and improve, expect to see even more exciting and innovative applications built via these platforms.
Are you interested in finding additional information on Microsoft’s Power Platform and the broader applications of low-code tools? Sign up for a Free Power Platform Workshop led by Kaitlyn Montour, and see how the process automation apps already included in your M365 subscription can bring your big ideas to life.