Are you ready to be a developer? No-code can make it happen.
Over the last few years, software development has evolved with user expectations of quicker time to market and lower costs. During the pandemic, we have seen a rapid acceleration of some trends that started a few years ago, especially in the current context where new applications to support digital business processes are required with a much lower time to market.
This article will present some views on recent evolutions in software development, share a few tips on managing change better, and examine some potential future scenarios.
If we look at the main trends in software creation, there are two key aspects to consider:
- No-code and the rise of citizen developers
- Development accelerators
In this blog post, we will focus on no-code and citizen developers. We shall cover development accelerators in a subsequent post.
No-code and citizen developers
Even though low-code and no-code are often used interchangeably, there are some clear differences that are worth highlighting to ensure a proper understanding.
No-code platforms empower everyone to create applications. Even those with only business knowledge can solve a problem by themselves using these platforms. This empowerment approach is based on the notion that people with business knowledge and a deep understanding of the problem are the best candidates to solve the problem.
They may not come back with the best technical solution or follow established software development lifecycle best practices, but they are the ones with the best domain knowledge. A no-code platform is simply a tool that ensures all the technical and architectural aspects (which domain experts may not be well-versed in) are properly handled.
No-code platforms empower everyone to create applications. This empowerment approach is based on the notion that people with business knowledge and a deep understanding of the problem are the best candidates to solve the problem.
No-code platforms are typically based on intuitive, drag-and-drop interfaces that guide the citizen developer to build the desired application, deploy it and make it available to users. With this understanding, we can properly place no-code within the enterprise.
It is important to note that no-code is not suitable for creating large, complex applications. To keep them manageable and ensure consistent behavior and functionality, large applications require a proper architecture, reusable assets, strong API definitions and contracts to ensure interoperability, version control and co-creation support for large teams. These functionalities, among others, are not common in no-code platforms. Technically, there is no limitation on the complexity of an application created with a no-code platform, but experience dictates that it is not the most efficient approach, both in terms of ROI and TCO.
No-code excels in scenarios where we have one problem that could be solved by one person (or a very small team) using one system or application, assuming they have the domain knowledge to implement it. We can summarize the target scenario for no-code today as:
This is where no-code is best positioned, and as its usage grows, more powerful actions will become available on the platform in the near future.
Don’t say NO to no-code
From an IT governance and security perspective, no-code platforms can be a headache. With everyone now being able create systems, it is easy to lose control. No-code is here to stay, so it’s important to define proper policies around it to prevent it from becoming the new shadow IT.
We are starting to see tools to audit the usage of the platform, manage inventories, remove outdated applications, ensure proper data usage and security, and track user activity. With the popularity of these platforms and the growth predicted by analysts, we can only conclude that this will become increasingly relevant for all organizations.
The challenges associated with no-code platforms are different from those with traditional systems. We no longer need to worry about outdated software that might have vulnerabilities. Instead, the problem becomes old applications that remain active in the no-code platform but are no longer aligned with the business.
The other important factors to consider when deciding to onboard a no-code platform include the target population and the cost. Most no-code platforms are general purpose platforms, allowing the full enterprise to use them. They offer a positive ROI in two scenarios:
- Internal usage within the organization with a high number of citizen developers and applications
- External usage of applications created by the organization, but targeting small number of users
In general, empowering the wider organization to create its own solutions with no-code platforms can be a game changer in many ways. However, to achieve that benefit, proper onboarding, governance, audit and security processes are the keys to ensuring success. In the next installment of this series, we will examine some of the tools and accelerators that developers are using to keep software development moving at digital speed. Stay tuned!