What does the rise of low-code and no-code mean for companies?

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In addition to dedicated platforms with which applications can be built using low-code or no-code, a new trend is beginning to emerge. Large enterprise organizations are adding low-code or no-code possibilities within their existing applications. This allows existing platforms to be expanded with new features or possibilities. What opportunities does this offer for companies?

Over the past year, we have regularly written about so-called low-code and no-code companies. Companies that specialize in environments in which it is possible to build web applications or mobile applications without having to encrypt, or with a limited amount of (simple) code. We see that companies such as Betty Blocks, Mendix and OutSystems are all experiencing strong growth. Business process management (BPM) parties are also moving towards low-code. Companies such as Appian and Pegasystems are profiling themselves more clearly as low-code platforms.

Low-code/no-code platforms help companies to innovate

These low-code and no-code platforms have the same goal, although we must point out that they all have their own strategy. The BPM parties mainly focus on optimizing processes in and between different solutions, while others focus on accelerating application development, for example. They also sometimes work with large SaaS vendors to develop tailor-made solutions for this.

So, the common goal is the same. Companies come up with newly developed solutions that allow employees to do their jobs better or more efficiently, or solutions that even relieve them of their burden. The latter by automating things. Many enterprise organizations have internal teams of developers, but in many companies these departments are understaffed, the workload is far too high, and a solution is not immediately available. Low-code/no-code could be a good solution for these companies.

Low-code/no-code platforms accelerate application development

By using a low-code or no-code platform, application development can be accelerated considerably. What these platforms have actually done, is providing complex development environments with thousands of lines of code, with a simpler interface. Using drag-and-drop elements, the layout of an application can be quickly put together, links can be made with data sources and an application quickly comes to life. In some cases, some simple code functionality needs to be added to make everything work properly, or to verify data properly. Because a kind of layer has been applied on top of the complex development environment to make things easier, this is no longer only interesting for developers, but also for the average business user.

All low-code/no-code parties agree that the best teams are made up of developers and business users who know their own field and work. In this way, applications can be developed more quickly that meet the needs of the users. Users can be customers, but also employees who currently have to fill in all kinds of cumbersome forms to create an order. With a new low-code application, this may be much easier and faster, leaving more time for other things.

Companies that have problems with their innovation processes, because things simply take too long, and/or have too few developers available, should definitely consider low-code/no-code. The downside is that these platforms may require an investment in the beginning. These include licensing costs, training and the start-up phase. In the end, it could bring in money, however. This is the point in time when processes are more efficient, employees can do more work and certain employees may become redundant. Any company can make this assessment on the basis of the desired innovation trajectories. In some cases, there is also an alternative: low-code/no-code via existing suppliers.

More and more enterprise solutions are adding low-code/no-code

A new trend is that more and more existing enterprise solutions choose to add low-code or even no-code functionality to their products. This ranges from simple adjustments to adapting their standard environment. Think of labels and the layout of displays, or the custom development of plugins with which functionality can be added, or with which integrations with third parties can be done.

Among others, examples of these kinds of companies include Citrix, NetSuite, Salesforce and ServiceNow. Starting later this year, Citrix will be able to integrate with external SaaS solutions via no-code and display data within the Citrix Workpace app. NetSuite offers the possibility to use no-code to change the entire environment, with which all labels and layout can be adjusted as desired. ServiceNow has a combination of low-code and no-code to build applications. Often, this concerns forms which are linked to processes that can perform multiple tasks, which can lead to greater efficiency. Finally, Salesforce has been building its own low-code platform for years. The Lightning platform is available for free to most Salesforce customers.

In this case, Salesforce is an enterprise solution that is already being used by many companies. This has an additional advantage, which is that the Salesforce Lightning platform can be used to develop applications without any additional costs in the form of licenses. However, the desired application must somehow integrate with Salesforce or be an extension of it. That may sound more complex than it is. Salesforce has a broad portfolio of services in addition to the CRM package, such as Service, Marketing and IT, all of which are also linked to the Lightning platform and for which low-code applications can be created.

The possibilities regarding Salesforce vary from a web application to a mobile application. Ultimately, Salesforce is a powerful standard CRM solution that can already be almost completely customized through its configuration, but for companies that really want to create something that goes off the beaten track, the low-code platform is very suitable.

Ultimately, many companies want to innovate by making business processes simpler, by simplifying operations done by employees. Often, a CRM or service module is involved, which may or may not be provided by Salesforce. So, despite the rapid growth of dedicated low-code and no-code platforms, Salesforce has not been idle and has more or less beaten those parties with its own Lightning platform. Because the Lightning platform is included free of charge in most subscriptions, companies do not have to make any additional costs.

Salesforce doesn’t have to earn any direct money from this, the subscriptions to the Salesforce products provide the company with an adequate return on investment. The advantage for companies that will actively use the Salesforce low-code platform is that they do not have to incur any additional costs. The downside is that they are more tied to Salesforce. If they want to replace Salesforce in the future, they will also have to replace all the applications they have created, which is a bigger challenge. If companies use an external low-code platform, that problem still exists, of course. Even then, part of the application has to be replaced, but possibly not all of it.

All in all, we have noticed that low-code and no-code are becoming part of an ever-increasing trend. Both the dedicated platforms are becoming more popular, as well as the solutions which large enterprise companies provide within their own solutions. It lowers the threshold for the development of new applications to such an extent, that innovation can be achieved more quickly, and that is what everyone is currently looking for.