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Why business is moving to ‘pick ‘n mix' approach to software

Companies are now employing a broad variety of commercial, open source and low-code software where each makes the most sense.
Read time 4min 30sec

A recent IDC white paper sponsored by global content services provider Hyland, “Navigating software solution delivery in a digitally transformed world”, confirmed a trend we have seen emerging strongly around the world: Organisations are using a mix of multiple technologies − low code, open source and packaged solutions – to innovate and achieve their business objectives.

The research found that leading organisations recognise software-driven products and services are generating significant new revenue streams, opening up new markets, increasing internal efficiency and giving employees the tools they need to better accomplish their goals.

Additionally, endorsing these findings, IDC’s February 2021 “Future enterprise resiliency and spending survey” found 56% of respondents said investing in software development tools and capabilities to drive broader app-based innovation was a priority or top priority tech investment over the next two years, to ensure the long-term resilience and success of the business.

But to achieve these benefits, organisations aren’t putting all their eggs in a one-size-fits-all basket: they are employing a broad variety of commercial, open source and low-code software where each makes the most sense, and they’re looking for any opportunities to customise their software stack to meet their needs.

While 27% of IDC respondents said they’d deployed commercial software over the past 12 months, low-code (15%), no-code (16%), open source (17%) and custom software (25%) together accounted for the lion’s share of software products, applications, services and features respondents are using.

Low-code and no-code tools can help strategic business stakeholders and subject matter experts support and accelerate digital transformation.

In total, that’s 73% of respondents’ deployments that are built on the types of software typically chosen for ease of customisation. Low code and no code were chosen by leading organisations for rapid deployment and speed to innovation, and also because they allow organisations to overcome developer skills shortages and put innovation into the hands of business.

Why is customisation so important? The new research reveals that where once, many companies may have primarily employed off-the-shelf software solutions, today’s leading companies are significantly customising commercial software or developing bespoke new software to differentiate, disrupt and achieve their most important business objectives. In short – business is software-driven and being different makes business more competitive.

However, customisation demands a ‘pick ‘n mix’ approach to tools – once requiring large teams of highly-skilled developers to achieve. Skilled developers are a scarce resource, but fortunately, through combined efforts to create low code, no code and open source tools, innovation has become possible without securing more hard-to-find development resources.

Building a citizen developer pool

With Gartner suggesting that by 2024, 80% of tech products and services will be built by people who are not technology professionals, low code and no code are enabling business users such as analysts to quickly achieve the outcomes they need without having to burden limited IT resources.

Low-code and no-code tools can help strategic business stakeholders and subject matter experts support and accelerate digital transformation. They also allow business team members to easily automate workflows that meet their needs, boosting efficiency and productivity.

With citizen developers empowered to solve myriad organisational challenges and bottlenecks, low code and no code are supporting the emergence of hyper-agile organisations powered by tools customised to meet the unique needs of every department and process, right down to the needs of individual users.

Empowering skilled developers

The IDC report notes low-code tools also allow developers to more quickly customise and deliver software that business teams need. Those tools also enable developers to experiment and innovate at lower risk, and to bypass lengthy and costly processes, and get right to the integration and innovation phase of development.

Gartner also states that the tools used for low-code development − such as drag-and-drop editors and code-generators – make it easier for more people to customise features and functions, while artificial intelligence has the potential to automate and improve many aspects of software development.

As a result, low-code application platforms were 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 in 2021.

Forrester research finds that low-coders are more likely to work on “advanced” or cloud-native architectures and use cases, such as containers, service mesh and internet of things apps.

They also have different strategic goals: Low-coders were 2.5 times more likely than high-coders to say they viewed extreme digital transformation as a high or critical priority of their organisation.

Developers have been embracing low code and no code for some time; in fact, KPMG reported that as far back as 2020, low code and no code were helping developers innovate in the face of skills shortages, and 26% of executives named low-code/no-code development platforms as their most important automation investment. That figure was more than double the 10% figure since the start of COVID-19.

We expect to see this trend picking up strongly in years to come. As adoption increases, organisations will also increasingly depend on rapid application development platforms to support deployment and integration with other tools as well as the organisations’ underlying data and content.

Monique Williams

Southern Africa regional sales manager for Hyland Software.

Monique Williams is the South Africa Country Manager for Hyland Software, where she is responsible for sales on Hyland's Content Services platform.

She has in excess of 20 years' experience in the information technology sector and holds an Honours Degree in Marketing Management and a Bachelor of Social Science in General Psychology, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, from the University of Cape Town.

Williams has worked for Hyland Software for over a decade and in that time, has been partner manager for UK and Scandinavia, and business development manager in South Africa. Her duties in her current role include generating revenue for Hyland Software by establishing and leading the execution of a plan to market, as well as managing existing and newly recruited partners in Southern Africa. Since being appointed to this role, she has increased sales revenue and has achieved year-on-year growth of a minimum of 30%.

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