Modern organizations have high demands for the speed and quality of application development. With low-code, there’s a technology that meets expectations and is rapidly gaining ground. What exactly can low-code mean for your organization?

Many low-code vendors would say low-code is meant to enable citizen development. This refers to providing tools that allow business users to build applications. Low-code can accomplish this with a simplified approach. Business users receive platforms with building blocks and drag-and-drop mechanisms. If necessary, the final step can be taken by manually writing code.

For example, low-code can be useful to make forms for an insurance claim. This is perfectly doable by a business user who followed a low-code course of a few days. Using building blocks, he can make the form. When making the form, he uses his knowledge of declarations, which improves the level of detail.

Often, low-code tools can be used for simple processes, workflows and tasks. Involving business users in basic development can be a big win for your company, as it solves a potential shortage of developers. Theoretically, low-code tooling allows you to realize much more development. Business users take care of simple tasks, while developers use programming expertise to build complete applications.

Tip: Low-code developers lead the charge against legacy

Different types

Organizations interested in low-code can use the technology in several ways. Pure low-code platforms are an obvious choice. Pure low-code platforms allow you to build complete applications that operate independently. Such platforms are useful if, for example, you have ERP that you want to expand. The functionality of components can be built from within the ERP system. OutSystems and Mendix are good at this, each of which collaborates separately with various SaaS providers. You do well to take your SaaS systems into account when considering a fitting low-code platform. That way, you’ll find a suitable platform for your company.

Another option is purchasing low-code from IT vendors who offer low-code on the side. When building an application with one of these low-code options, there’s a system of record in the middle. That’s the obvious choice if your company frequently works with an IT vendor. By this, we mean vendors that often have a database model or proprietary platform in the middle. For example, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. We previously discussed this low-code approach with EVBox, which does everything based on Salesforce (including low-code development) and has discovered the value.

No-code seems tied to low-code

Many assume that low-code will eventually transition to no-code. With no-code, the user only uses building blocks and drag-and-drop systems. In contrast to low-code, there’s no option for expansion by coding. For workflow development, you can certainly look to no-code, as workflow development goes a long way through drag-and-drop alone. By adding AI, no-code systems are also becoming better at recognizing and extracting data without having to redefine or reformat data.

Yet, as far as we’re concerned, complete no-code is unrealistic for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, there remains a choice between customization (low-code/high-code) and standardization (no-code). It seems very difficult to fully standardize development through no-code.

Addressing integration issues

For many low-code platforms, it’s important to broaden operations and address integration issues. Salesforce is a perfect example: the organization bought the MuleSoft platform to build integrations. In turn, Mendix aims for an all-in-one platform, while ServiceNow and SAP offer integration platforms as well. In most cases, we recommend combining low-code with a separate integration platform, such as MuleSoft or Boomi. By doing so, you have the most amount of integrations available and become less dependent on a low-code platform’s standard integrations.

When discussing integrations, it’s also a matter of where the data goes. Among others, Mendix and BPM vendor Appian take great care of ensuring that data doesn’t need to be moved when integrating within their platforms. Appian even claims that, within its platform, you talk directly to the data. Databases and systems aren’t connected until the exact moment at which data is required.

In general, such real-time connections are also realistic when you start combining cloud systems. It’s a different story for older, slower databases because in these cases, applications often work very slowly. For such legacy systems, it’s always wise to embrace dedicated integration platforms, because legacy systems make it near impossible to personally unravel datasets.

Where did the hype come from?

Low-code can seem like a trend of the past few years when following the market and its developments. Yet, pure low-code players such as OutSystems and Mendix have been around for more than 15 years. They owe their popularity to the fact that low-code made a name for itself.

The future of low-code

Presently, low-code is taking up a clear position within many organizations. They can expect future innovation from their low-code platforms. These days, many vendors are working on the addition of Robotic Process Automation in order to realize Hyperautomation. This term describes complete process automation by integrating tools and techniques, which can be achieved by combining low-code and RPA software robots.

Furthermore, some organizations seem to be moving towards low-code teams. That’s a solid option for large organizations with more than a thousand apps. To illustrate, some of their Windows apps still need to be migrated to the cloud in order to boost performance. If you were to rewrite all of those apps, you’d spend an awful lot of time. Low-code teams allow legacy apps to be modernized much faster. At the same time, it’s also quite conceivable that low-code is used to let business professionals outline software, after which specialized developers finalise everything. Combining business and programming knowledge is incredibly powerful.

In any case, the market for low-code is in full swing, partly due to the technology catching on with organizations. Specialized platform such as Mendix and OutSystems are booking considerable revenue figures, while large players are getting on board as well. That can only help adoption. Therefore, we’re curious to see how the technology will further develop.