No-code and low-code development platforms — which allow users to build apps without the use of coding — hold huge potential for enterprises’ digital transformation initiatives. But some leaders still hold back on embracing them in their own plans.

According to TechRepublic, only 10 to 15 percent of businesses use low-code tools to build the software they need, turning instead to full-on original coding. However, Forrester predicts low-code market revenue will skyrocket by up to 68 percent to $15.5 billion by 2020 — if decision makers are able to let go of the stigma they harbor toward these tools.

This stigma is derived from some developers’ formal approach to anything requiring code — if it needs code, it’s in their wheelhouse and no one else’s. In adhering to this idea unflinchingly, they reinvent the wheel for projects that don’t need such a complicated approach. But in the end, it’s clear that the tools, time and budget simply don’t pay off for a problem that required a more basic solution.

Low code

Low-code and no-code platforms have the potential to take care of many smaller inefficiencies within an organization. After all, digital transformation doesn’t occur suddenly through a massive, one-time change. It happens when an organization asks what small changes it can make over time to yield big payoffs in the long run.

The time saved and simplicity created by low-code platforms brings real change to organizations, which is why decision makers need to shed the stigma surrounding these tools and embrace them in their own organizations’ digital transformation objectives. Here are three specific reasons why low-code tools should play a large role in these initiatives.

1. Low-code tools’ capabilities have made significant strides.

Low-code tools came onto the market circa 2011, and they’ve come a long way since. But, they still suffer from the IT bias that has held them back from the get-go. Some developers, being code purists, scoffed at the idea of letting line-of business (LOB) employees build their own programs — and rightfully so in many cases. Many had been burned by letting these LOB employees run with a software-building tool sans supervision.

While these are valid concerns, low-code solutions have made serious headway in recent years. Modern low-code solutions cater to these developer concerns and give them the power they need regulate LOB employees’ software building initiatives and mitigate the risks that come with it.

In the same vein, organizations are adjusting their use of low-code and no-code tools. Rather than allowing LOB employees to run wild with their projects, CIOs and IT leaders retain a certain amount of control over the use of low-code tools. This creates a buffer zone to ensure that non-IT employees have the right skills for bringing a project to fruition and for ensuring proper documentation.

2. Low-code tools can fight project backlogs.

Most CIOs are overwhelmed and overworked, sitting on long queues of digital transformation initiatives. Many projects within those queues are smaller in the grand scheme of things, but CIOs just don’t have the bandwidth to lead them. These are perfect candidates for addressing with a low-code or no-code platform.

The main perk in knocking out smaller projects is that they can be relegated to individual departments whose employees then handle them via simpler coding platforms. This gives way to a win-win result: The CIO or IT leader reaps time saved in handing off the project to someone else, and the LOB employee handling the task gets more control over customizing the end product which they’ll use every day.

3. Low-code tools draw on the increasingly open culture of development.

Years ago, relying on someone else’s code was considered stealing. Even in college courses, working together with classmates on code projects was regarded as cheating by the professor. Luckily, the developer community has embraced the power of collaboration as time has gone on.

Low-code technology draws on the best of that culture. It allows organizations to rely on other people’s code without exposing the organization to risk. The projects are tested and maintained separately, and the IT pros can see even see inside the code to verify that.

Rather than going all-in on large, overambitious projects pulled off in the course of a year, digital transformation is achieved through smaller, independent projects across an organization over time. This requires the outsourcing of efforts to LOB employees — who often possess the highest degree of ownership for the end product. The good news is that low-code tools and no-code tools have arrived, and embracing them is a must for keeping an organization competitive in an age where digital transformation is a must.

Ryan Duguid
Ryan Duguid

is chief evangelist at Nintex. Ryan has 20-plus years of global IT experience and is responsible for defining Nintex's product strategy to help people solve business process problems. Ryan holds degrees in computer science and psychology from Victoria University of Wellington.