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Two-minute explainer: What’s low code, and how can it help you?

Since 2017, Google searches for ‘low code development’ have quadrupled and enterprise investment in low code systems has surged. By 2024, Gartner expects three-quarters of organizations to use low code tooling across their business.

Low code development will play an important role in the future of enterprise IT – helping teams to boost their productivity, accelerate innovation and navigate the growing shortage of skilled developers.

If your organization isn’t considering low code already, it probably should be. Here’s what you need to know.

What does ‘low code development’ mean?

Simply put: low code systems enable users to build simple applications (‘apps’) with little or no hand-coding, using businesses’ existing datasets and systems. ‘Low code development’ and ‘no code development’ are often taken to mean the same thing.

This way, users can solve everyday workplace problems by creating new digital services. A HR team might build an app to onboard new employees, for example. A finance team might build one to track datasets for their reporting dashboard. A warehouse crew might create an app to track deliveries across multiple locations.

Deploying low code apps is as simple as sharing a photo from a phone. Apps can be edited and improved over time, and retired when they’re no longer needed.

While many SaaS products incorporate ‘low code’ elements into their products – such as email systems that enable automated email workflows – this article is focused on ‘pure play’ LCAPs (Low Code Application Platforms), whose primary purpose is to create other apps. Gartner lists twelve leading LCAPs in their Magic Quadrant for 2022: Appian, Creatio, Kintone, Mendix, Microsoft Power Platform, Newgen, Oracle, OutSystems, Pega, Quickbase, Salesforce and ServiceNow.

Some LCAPs are oriented towards specific industries – Mendix is targeted towards manufacturers, for instance – while others – such as Microsoft’s Power Platform – are designed for universal use. All LCAPs make it possible for users without IT skills to design and deploy high-quality digital services at speed.

What’s the value of low code development to enterprises?

Low code systems remove the barriers to development, so that employees outside IT can build apps to solve workplace problems, automate repetitive tasks and test new customer experiences.

This way, low code systems multiply an organization’s development power. Employees no longer need to wait for IT teams to design, build, test and deploy apps. App initialization is taken care of. ‘Citizen developers’ can focus on building useful functionality and maximizing the value of their apps. This way, low code boosts productivity across organizations.

IT teams can stay in control of the apps built by employees and play an important role in safeguarding low code development within their organization. Because employees are empowered with digital tools to solve their own problems, IT teams are freed up to focus on clearing development backlogs and delivering complicated, business-critical projects.

By reducing pressure on IT teams in this way, low code development can be an effective strategy for organizations to better use their developer resources. This helps enterprises to protect themselves from the growing shortage of skilled IT professionals worldwide.

Low code development also has a multiplying effect on innovation within enterprises. Low code systems bridge the gap between IT and business teams, empowering users with the best understanding of a business problem with the tools to solve it.

Systems like Microsoft Power Platform and Mendix can be used inside and outside a business, empowering teams to build and deploy new customer experiences, with pixel-perfect control over every element of their apps and visibility over users’ activity on them.

What does low code development look like in practise?

The scope of low code development changes from one system to the next. Microsoft Power Platform, for instance, is embedded within Office 365 and pairs Microsoft’s familiar workplace tools with advanced AI and automation capabilities, and integration with third-party tools and databases. Other platforms are more limited in their reach.

All low code systems offer a graphical user interface to enable users to ‘piece together’ datasets, app functions, workflows and user controls to build simple apps. Whereas traditional development is often concerned with writing lines of code, low code development is focused on assembling ‘building blocks’ to create efficient, integrated software services.

An employee might use a low code system to build an online form, for example. First, they’d use design thinking to document their requirements and plan their app. Next, they’d design individual screens for their app on their browser-based low code platform. Then, they’d add in the user logic to determine how the screens and app elements ‘act’, using simple formulas or drag and drop tools. Finally, they’d share their new service via email or otherwise, collecting data on how the app is used to improve it in future.

What else do I need to know about low code development?

Low code systems are designed to be used alongside traditional hand-coding tools, not to replace them. Most enterprises will still require their IT team to develop complicated, multi-functional digital services.

This said, many skilled developers now use low code systems to accelerate their own development work. At Sogeti, we support enterprises to scale and safeguard their use of low code systems. This includes helping IT teams to develop enterprise-grade low code apps using design-thinking, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and our library of pre-built low code components.

IT teams also play an essential role in helping non-IT ‘citizen developers’ to use low code systems safely and effectively, via training and governance. Low code development can expose business data to new users and third parties, creating data security risks. App proliferation can also be an issue, whereby employees create hundreds or thousands of apps within an organization – all of which must work effectively together. Testing, system maintenance and monitoring for abnormal activity are all essential.

Sogeti works with organizations worldwide to help scale and safeguard their low code systems and unlock the breakthrough innovation and efficiency benefits on offer. With our help and the power of low code development behind you, your organizational productivity is only limited by your teams’ imagination.

 

Unlock your teams’ productivity potential and multiply your development power

Enterprises worldwide are turning to Microsoft Power Platform to drive productivity and free up their IT teams.

Read more about Power Platform

Unlock your teams’ productivity potential and multiply your development power

Enterprises worldwide are turning to Microsoft Power Platform to drive productivity and free up their IT teams.

Read more about Power Platform

 

Loïc Cimon
Loïc Cimon
Expert Power Platform

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