Corporate software development is a complex and expensive process. For 30 years, it has required businesses to have an in-house development team or an experienced provider of "boxed" solutions for a specific business process. By 2026, more than 65% of the world's applications will be built without costly IT teams as low-code and no-code solutions rapidly take over the market. A recent Gartner study confirms this.
Ekaterina Stromova, CEO of Datamight, tells us what types of no-code/low-code applications are being created today and who companies need.
What is low-code and no-code?
Low-code is a method of creating corporate software using graphical interfaces with minimal code writing. No-code is a method of developing applications without diving into code at all.
The necessary functionality of a business process is built on blocks and built-in templates and can be easily transformed, so that ordinary office workers can understand the design. They do not need to know programming languages or software development skills.
Low-code and no-code approaches came to the corporate sector recently, but by 2021, according to Gartner, more than 300 solutions were already being successfully implemented in Russia.
The growth of their popularity was due to the optimization of corporate budgets for software product implementation and the shortage of IT staff. Earlier enterprise problems were solved by business in two ways:
1.purchasing a boxed solution for a certain process from a vendor, followed by costly rework to make adjustments and adapt the process,
2.developing their own software from scratch by qualified programmers - a longer and more expensive process that could take years.
Unlike enterprise solutions, low-code allows you to reduce the project time from one year to several months, including training of key users. Support is provided either on the customer's side or on the vendor's side in a consulting format.
Where is there demand for low-code?
With the onset of international transformation and the departure of vendors, Western platforms began to be replaced by domestic analogs, including low-code platforms that allow flexible configuration of business processes and then quickly adapt them to changing customer requirements, as well as expand functionality through programming.
In what areas is low-code most popular now?
Logistics. With the help of low-code and no-code tools, applications can be developed to regulate the supply chains of raw materials and the shipment of finished products. They can share information with suppliers and customers, track shipping routes, model and optimize logistics operations, as well as digitize and download historical data and integrate it with new records to increase the transparency of analytics.
Manufacturing operations. Low code solutions are suitable for process modeling and the transition to Industry 4.0 - the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, digital robots or bots to perform routine operations and replace manual labor. Applications developed on the basis of low code help to improve the efficiency of operations at all stages of production.
Accounting and finance. The low-code platform can be used to develop applications for automating stream operations: exchange of financial documents within the company and with clients, interaction with the tax service, preparation of accounting reports. This will make it possible to get away from paper document flow and sending scans by e-mail.
HR processes can be automated without involving IT resources. Low-code and no-code platforms allow you to create any applications for motivation management, search and recruitment, training, development and mentoring of employees, incentives, etc.
Low-code platforms help IT services to get away from routine operations, optimize complex processes and focus on tasks with high added value. At the same time, business applications will be more adaptive, as process owners or analysts can be involved in their development. The participation of IT specialists is not excluded either, but it implies consultations or partial code development. The main part of tasks is taken by users.
PR processes, in particular, internal communications. It is possible to transform corporate portals by merging enterprise solutions with low code and no-code. This will allow to create within one site a news feed, professional communities (UGC), a platform for corporate activities. And also to integrate the portal with existing systems of personnel accounting and payroll, KPI-indicators, corporate training, various personnel assessments, career tracks, etc.
Sales. Low-code and no-code tools allow you to create applications for customers, manage sales, process orders and control inventory. Vendors, suppliers and dealers can interact on a single platform.
With low-code and no-code it is possible to increase the speed of development and testing of process automation hypothesis by 3-5 times. For example, with regular code it takes up to half a year to implement a prototype MVP for hypothesis testing, while with low-code solution it takes only 1-2 weeks. You will be able to immediately understand where problems will potentially arise, eliminate them immediately and customize the process for your company.
Will AI accelerate the adoption of low-code enterprise solutions?
A study by New Vantage Partners found that more than 90% of the world's enterprises have invested in artificial intelligence. But only 26% of them are using AI extensively in production. Low-code solutions will accelerate the use of AI. Research and Markets predicts that the global market for low-code platforms will grow from $12 billion in 2020 to $190 billion in 2030.
These platforms reduce the time and labor required to build robust AI models in-house. Agility is critical in the face of constant change in the market and within a company.
Low-code platforms accelerate development by reusable components needed throughout the machine learning lifecycle. Therefore, developers can quickly produce builds and fix bugs until the business problem is solved.
Low-code tools make maintenance and management of AI models easier. That is, it is possible to update algorithms while in operation.
Low-code platforms provide mechanisms for retraining and dynamically replacing models based on performance.
By offering an intuitive interface, low-code platforms make it easy to retrain an in-house software development team for machine learning needs. Low-code makes it easier to retain knowledge of AI applications, so they can be supported by new hires. They won't need additional training.
Perspectives of low-code and no-code platforms
There is a growing demand in the enterprise sector for low-code and no-code technologies that enable the creation of "fast applications". They can be launched in weeks rather than months.
Hiring professional developers is becoming increasingly expensive for businesses. A survey by consulting company RosExpert showed that 54% of employers are short of IT specialists. Maksut Shadaev, the head of the Ministry of Digitalization, estimated the deficit of IT specialists at 500-700 thousand people. In this regard, the salaries of IT specialists increased by 19%. In general, salaries in the IT sphere are twice as high as the Russian average.
Consequently, companies are starting to choose alternative solutions-designers. This makes it possible to reduce software product development costs and scale business applications without a large development team.
Ordinary users, becoming system administrators, can customize business processes for themselves, without consultants. They don't have to write support requests to remove or add some step. Thus, management becomes more flexible than in hard-code solutions used nowadays. In addition, any process can be improved and adapted quickly enough to changing requirements and conditions.
What are the disadvantages to consider when choosing low code/no-code solutions? With no-code you can work only with the functionality offered by a particular vendor, there is no possibility to add something for yourself.
With low-code you should pay attention to the roadmap of product development, what functionality will be added, and if you are interested in the possibility of partnership to develop the necessary functionality together.
Check for data access, migration or integration with non-standard data sources. For process groups with complex business logic and dependencies, it's potentially better to consider in-house development. And also consider that low-code solutions need programmers to integrate with existing systems and form a cohesive IT landscape.
Low-code solutions are suitable for both small businesses and large corporations with complex business logic. In large companies, these platforms allow automating individual processes and integrating them into existing architectural solutions.
And for small and medium-sized companies, a low-code system can become a full-fledged ERP solution that unifies and automates most of the business processes.
There are low-code solutions on the market that integrate with legacy systems regardless of their complexity. They can build and customize for the business exactly ERP-solutions to qualitatively manage operational activities. For example, SAP or 1C.
Low-code tools have more prospects for creating corporate applications and, in general, for forming a mature digital ecosystem. These platforms allow businesses to reduce costs, IT professionals to focus on high-value-added tasks, and users to gain independence in creating and improving applications that meet their specific needs.
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