The practice of software development has undergone a seismic shift. Where it was once the domain of coders, developers, and IT experts able to build applications and automated workflows, the introduction of low-code solution has levelled the playing field and given rise to ‘citizen developers’.
As a result, low code is now ubiquitous across the world. The figures speak for themselves – the global low-code development technologies market is projected to total US$13.8 billion in 2021, a whopping 22.6 per cent increase from the year prior.
It’s easy to see why Gartner is projecting such explosive growth. The promise of low code is enabling IT and non-technical business users to join forces, ultimately delivering greater productivity. But we know the answer to realising the promise of technology lies in the application within each individual business.
The same is true for low code. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach and what works for one business isn’t necessarily going to work for the next. The right approach needs to meet all users where they are, with complicated low-code solutions likely to frustrate citizen developers and straightforward solutions often deemed too basic for IT teams keen to get stuck into more complex workflows.
So, how can businesses design the right low-code approach for their needs and users?
Knowing the business inside and out
The practice of application development is most closely associated with low code, but there are several ways that low code can add value.
The start of the answer to tapping this value is knowing and understanding the business. As part of this, business decision makers need to look inward and ask targeted, specific questions.
What does the existing IT infrastructure look like? How far along is the business in its digital transformation journey? Digging deep into these questions and uncovering honest answers is key to determining the best fit.
For example, should the business dive into low-code or no-code application development, or should it leverage low-code automation to accelerate workflows?
It’s often the case that businesses take a siloed approach to automation, with initiatives implemented within a specific business department, function, or location. Yet this divided approach only reduces the overall value of automation and hinders the potential for scalability.
Designing with every individual user in mind
This is where citizen developers come in and act as the driving force of low code. Businesses increasingly need to engage broader business users in their digital workflow automation. In fact, Gartner predicts that half of all new low-code clients will come from buyers outside of IT by the end of 2025. On top of this, on average 41 per cent of employees outside of IT already customise or build data or technology solutions.
This need to better design technology initiatives with end users in mind is echoed in a recent Kofax study, which found 48 per cent of IT respondents said the top challenge with their automation technology is employees lacking the technical skills needed to navigate their platform.
Striking a balance between simplicity and complexity
So, businesses are faced with the challenge of building a low-code solution that will work for IT and non-technical users. It must be sophisticated enough to handle the high-end demands of coding professionals and straightforward enough for business line managers.
Kofax’s research points to the need for simplicity, ease of use, and strong integrations with existing technology. Ninety-nine per cent of businesses said a single-vendor automation approach would address the challenges of siloed initiatives and scalability, while four out of five decision makers said intuitiveness and ease of use are imperative.
To address these requirements, low-code platforms should offer a drag-and-drop interface that make it easier for citizen developers to build automations. Mobile device support and reusable components are also valuable features. Finally, the platform should expand low code across the various critical capabilities of the business and elevate it to the level of workflow automation.
Putting it all together and reaping the benefits
The greatest business benefits are realised through a user-centric platform that enables everyone to contribute to digital workflow automation and transformation. Businesses can unleash their full workforce’s potential with low-code automation, maximising existing resources and reducing the reliance on IT for automation development.
The best results are yielded when non-technical users can put their knowledge of business operations and processes to use in designing, automating, and transforming digital workflows. With citizen developers able to fully contribute, the more technical team members can focus on tasks that demand more complex programming. By getting everyone involved in low-code digital transformation, businesses can drive greater collaboration, improve productivity, and ultimately deliver better customer experience.