While emerging as a trend in the developer community, low-code/no-code platforms have actually been around for decades. In the ’80s and ’90s, we called them fourth-generation programming languages (4GL), computer-assisted software engineering (CASE) tools and early rapid application development (RAD) tools. Today, the speed of application development using low-code/no-code platforms is, according to Forrester, up to 10 times faster than traditional development methods, and that still isn’t fast enough for some organizations.
For example, over the past year-plus, COVID-19 has forced organizations to quickly build online experiences to replace physical experiences amid a scarcity of experienced developers and shrinking IT budgets. As businesses strive to become more agile and innovative, the low-code/no-code approach is an attractive proposition that removes the barrier between ideas and solutions, satisfies the need for rapid application development and democratizes innovation.
How Organizations Are Using Low-Code/No-Code Platforms
Implementation of this approach is more than just theory and organizations are using the capabilities offered by low-code/no-code platforms to realize actual business value. According to a KBV Research forecast, the low-code development platform market in Asia-Pacific is estimated to grow by 27.1% annually between 2020-2026.
As companies pursue digital transformation initiatives, low-code/no-code platforms can empower businesses to develop high-performance, scalable and reliable systems to improve processes and enhance the user experience.
For example, FWD, a multinational insurance company based in Hong Kong leveraged low-code/no-code applications when it expanded to the Philippines. By launching an app in just 90 days, FWD successfully entered a highly competitive market dominated by well-established financial institutions. The company was able to set itself apart from traditional players by providing an engaging user experience and innovative services for its customers such as in-app investment performance monitoring, which also enabled it to leapfrog its competitors and achieve great customer acceptance.
In another case, Pertamina, one of the largest oil and natural gas corporations based in Jakarta, Indonesia needed to migrate their workflows to modern applications urgently. The migration needed to be implemented quickly as their workflow application license was set to expire and maintaining their workflows require a robust internal digital process system. By utilizing low-code/no-code solutions, the company successfully migrated 150 applications and consolidated them into 20 multi-tenant applications in just six months. Additionally, two mobile applications were swiftly built, including a system that efficiently captures attendance for 7,000 employees working from home amid the pandemic.
Finally, Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), a conglomerate based in the Philippines has automated the management and tracking of the progress of its numerous corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities through the help of a low-code/no-code platform. In just two months, AEV was able to implement a comprehensive web and mobile CSR application containing more than 1,000 dynamic workflows that automate the project management process. Moreover, the company was able to achieve USD 670,000 in annual savings using low-code/no-code capabilities, automating more than 1,000 transactions, deploying more than 40 applications at scale, and centralizing 50 diverse business units.
The above examples show how low-code/no-code platforms can enable organizations across industries to build more agile teams able to deliver a minimum viable product in hours instead of weeks, and launch apps much faster. With low-code/no-code platforms, organizations can pivot around changing conditions and deliver requested capabilities quickly. The ability to get to market ahead of the competition helps organizations increase revenue, establish differentiation and take the lead instead of playing catch-up.
Potential Pitfalls of Low-Code/No-Code Platforms
Before integrating low-code/no-code options into the company’s IT ecosystem, there are some important factors to consider to ensure that effective protocols are in place:
1. Governance And Security
Low-code/no-code platforms may accelerate application development, but they can also increase IT complexity if not managed effectively. Systems built with multiple third-party elements can be difficult to maintain, secure and scale. With groups implementing apps outside of central IT management, the business could be at risk due to potential security holes, compliance missteps or budget overruns.
Any IT ecosystem will turn into a wild wild west with a motley of ungoverned applications. Therefore, these platforms should be integrated into a solid governance framework, like Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), and grounded in security oversight, change management principles and full documentation.
2. Vendor Stability And Lock-In
When using an external vendor’s platform, businesses need to ensure that they fully understand the offering. For example, does the internal IT team have access to and control of the data?
Does the system use open standards or proprietary technologies? These questions, along with understanding how well the system integrates with external systems, are all keys to consider for a level of freedom from the ERP provider’s platform that will enable the organization to move quickly and tackle specific business goals.
The elements of a low-code/no-code platform are built for mass consumption, which means that the development of the application would have to stay within the confines of templates or modules. Before deciding to go all-in, it is best to check if the vendor offers more customization options than others, and look for one that meets the specific needs of the business.
The modern consumer — more demanding and digitally savvy — expects more agility. Low-code/no-code platforms give organizations more opportunities than ever to create truly unique, innovative offerings to enhance customer experiences and streamline operations.
The true value of low-code/no-code is augmenting the robust, solid enterprise foundation that most businesses have in place today. Low-code/no-code platforms enable agile development and delivery of highly differentiated solutions that can solve unique challenges — think digital transformation or improved CX — very quickly and at high business impact.
This approach is much more valuable than embarking on a drawn-out ERP migration or re-platforming initiative. After decades of development and refinement, ERP backbones are robust and solid, so now might be the perfect time for businesses to test the waters of low-code/no-code platforms.