Low-code platforms become digital transformation’s hero

Digital business acceleration is pressuring IT leaders to dramatically increase application delivery speed and time to value, which is where low-code comes to the rescue.

The worldwide low-code development technologies market is projected to total $13.8 billion in 2021, an increase of 22.6% from 2020, according to the latest forecast by Gartner.

This is hardly surprising, as the quest for agile business continues to drive low-code adoption. Gartner goes on to state that the surge in remote development practices during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to boost low-code adoption, despite ongoing cost optimisation efforts. 

As mentioned in my previous article, while adoption of low-code applications was well under way prior to 2020, COVID-19 accelerated adoption to support new and evolving ways of working and exposing a lack of digital agility for many organisations at a crucial time.

Gartner attests that while low-code application development is not new, a confluence of digital disruptions, hyper-automation and the rise of composable business has led to an influx of tools and rising demand.

The report also confirms that the low-code social and technological movement is expected to continue growing significantly. Moreover, Gartner adds that low-code application platforms are expected to remain the largest component of the low-code development technology market through 2022, increasing nearly 30% from 2020 to reach $5.8 billion this year.

Clearly, digital business acceleration is pressuring IT leaders to dramatically increase application delivery speed and time to value.

So, it’s hardly surprising that businesses around the world are actively seeking to deploy more agile solutions – something they can utilise to solve problems quickly and get apps into the hands of users before the window of opportunity has closed.

This is where low-code technology strategies come to the fore, providing organisations with the ability to leverage intuitive tools to create new solutions that solve business problems as they emerge.

This ability to develop or quickly adapt existing applications is a game-changing approach to digital business. It’s simple, effective and transformational. Low-code capabilities are “table stakes for a digital organisation”, according to a Frost & Sullivan report.

Build or buy – that is the question

As digital transformation continues to accelerate and companies seek to solve new challenges, they tend to default to the traditional question of build versus buy. But it needs to be noted that both options have their drawbacks.

Buying something off the shelf can be quicker, but it will also be expensive and will most likely not be a perfect fit to solve specific problems. Something built internally will most likely be closer to a perfect fit but will unquestionably take more time and command valuable IT resources. 

Buying something off the shelf can be quicker, but it will also be expensive and will most likely not be a perfect fit to solve specific problems.

Low-code applications offer a new alternative that facilitates maximising returns on investment (ROI) in the existing technology stack. It offers the ability to squeeze even more value from existing solutions. With low-code applications, companies create powerful data relationships from internal and external sources, centralise that information and provide users with the ability to act on it.

It also allows companies to leverage existing technology solutions to bring data together and implement new applications that put the right information in front of the right people at the right time.

By optimising the user experience, you increase user adoption. The more people that use the solution, the more effective they are at their jobs and the more ROI is maximised.

It’s important to note that a platform with a well-documented record of enabling users to create diverse, customisable and efficient low-code solutions is needed.

With robust low-code capabilities, contributors from outside IT departments not only play an important role in guiding applications to solve issues or improve processes but also help design the apps. This makes infinite sense as who knows how to improve processes better than the people who use them every day.

Leveraging low-code alongside core systems

A critical component of low-code integration is the ability for the app-building platform to access and use all the latest data from the company’s entire content and application universe.

The best low-code strategy is one that integrates the organisation’s critical content repositories with applications and line-of-business systems − complementing those systems and maximising investments.

Content and documents are often the most pervasive and challenging elements across business units, which makes a content services platform ideal for launching effective applications.

Frost & Sullivan notes that organisations expect to see the greatest benefit when low-code development capabilities are built into a content management/process automation platform.

To find additional areas where low-code applications can have the biggest impact, look at key departments that are still relying heavily on Excel spreadsheets or Access database applications.

To find processes to optimise with low-code, start by looking in finance, human resources, purchasing, vendor management and asset management.

A low-code approach − in addition to core content services capabilities like business process automation and intelligent capture − can work together to fuel digital business strategy and empower the organisation to excel at this new rapid pace of business.

How do you measure success?

The low-code platform needs to contribute to the attainment of business goals – otherwise, there is no point to the exercise. A good place to start measuring success is by looking at metrics such as speed of deployment, increases in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

User adoption is another critical metric. Examine whether users are leveraging the system and corresponding business apps. If the answer is yes, it indicates the solution is successful.

When user adoption increases, it typically does so alongside the business benefits organisations are seeking, namely: optimal utilisation of resources, improved profitability and maximum ROI.

By benchmarking the performance of the current development system − and user satisfaction – the firm can measure the impact of its low-code platform.

With low-code, the firm can empower employees to effectively ‘meet the moment’. Users inside and outside of IT can contribute to growing business processes responsively, creatively and intelligently. This means the company not only attracts and retains top talent, but also has the critical ability to quickly pivot and evolve based on the ever-changing competitive landscape, technological innovations and customer feedback.

These are just some of the reasons why low-code platforms are quickly becoming the new digital transformation ‘most valuable player’.

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