Half of medium to large companies will be on do-it-yourself, low-code platforms within the next two years
As app development becomes faster and easier, it allows companies to accelerate their digital transformation journeys by building powerful apps quickly. By embedding new technologies like IoT, AI and Robotics these apps can fuel digital innovation in an organization. Analyst firm, Gartner recently shocked the developer world when it came out with a startling headline that by 2023 over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have adopted LCAP as one of their strategic application platforms. With IT teams stretched thin during the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in low-code tools witnessed a surge in interest.
The promise of no-code platforms is that they’ll make software development just as easy as using MS Word or PowerPoint so that the average business user can move projects forward without the extra cost (in money and time) of an engineering team has always been enormously tempting. Low-code app development (LCAP) has blossomed into a real DIY (Do-It-Yourself) trend in the last couple of years. Low code is a visual drag-and-drop approach to app development. It’s about beginning with a basic app framework and customizing it as per a company’s specific needs without having to code and ask for a developer’s assistance.
Some businesses were completely turning to low code app development to speed up their app needs. According to Forrester Research, in 2019, 37% of software developers in its worldwide survey were using or planning to use low-code tools. By mid-2020, the survey predicted the number to rise to over 50% of developers. And Gartner adds that low-code app development will be responsible for over 65% of app development activity by 2024.
The objective is to empower business users to ‘write’ codes for applications to deliver outcomes they imagine. Will this mean the LCAPs will disrupt developer jobs and make them redundant? Not quite, but it will certainly mean a skill shift towards high-end coding to create the LCAPs itself, as large parts of writing codes will be automated. Unlike no-code platforms, low-code platforms still require coding skills but promise to accelerate software development by letting developers work with pre-written code components.
An LCAP is characterized by its use of model-driven or visual development paradigms supported by expression languages and possibly scripting to address use cases such as citizen development, business unit IT, enterprise business processes, composable applications and even SaaS (Software-As-A-Service) applications.
The LCAP game has become exciting as major players like Microsoft are entering the business. Microsoft which is embedding sophisticated analytics features in its highly popular spreadsheet program, Excel, that is now 34 years old, is powering its way into the LCAP market. Its LCAP consists of Microsoft Power Apps, which includes entitlements for Power Automate and the Common Data Service. Together, these form part of the Power Platform (which adds Power BI for business analytics and Power Virtual Agents for low-code chatbots).
Microsoft enables fusion teams with no-code and advanced pro developer capabilities. It offers one of the simpler design-time tools in Power Apps, one that is used for designing canvas apps and that employs a drag-and-drop approach with an expression language that feels like Microsoft Excel. This makes it well-suited to citizen developers and business unit developers.
According to a Gartner ranking of LCAP vendors, “Oracle has multiple ways to consume and purchase APEX, but it is also a free service for Oracle Database and Oracle Cloud users. For most users, its net cost is included in their DBMS platform costs. This makes APEX excellent value for any Oracle Database platform user. Oracle is extending APEX usage as it sells solutions to new markets like the SMB market.”
Salesforce, for its part, noted surging interest in Flow Builder, its low-code tool that helps users create automated business processes. In March 2020, Salesforce saw more than 3.25 billion processes automated, an increase of 25 percent compared to the previous year. It has been adding features to its low code applications quite regularly. Its new low-code features for Lightning App Builder, the point-and-click tool customers can use to create custom pages for the Salesforce app. The new features, Dynamic Forms and Dynamic Actions, were designed to help users build forms and pages that were event-driven and changed in real time.
Salesforce claims that its Lightning low code platform makes it easy for non-technical employees to build an app. This allows businesses to reduce the time associated with app development cycles by not requiring app developers for building every app. With the Lightning platform, companies now don’t need to send every new app development request to IT teams. Instead, all departments can develop their own applications, freeing up IT to focus on tasks that require higher technology expertise.
Low code allows businesses to better utilize the skill sets of its app developers. They can work with a small team as the majority of app development tasks can now be done by non-technical people. This helps businesses save on salaries and drive more value from the IT team. Low code app development is the future.
Gartner further states that low code as become a general social and technological movement, bolstered by the emergence of citizen developers outside of IT, that will continue to grow significantly for years to come. LCAP are expected to be the largest contributor to the growth of the low-code development technology market through 2022, increasing nearly 30% from 2020 to reach $5.8 billion in 2021. As businesses go digital, there will be more demand for apps and software. It’s not hard to imagine why businesses are turning to LCAP to develop enterprise applications. As companies face stiffer competition and increasing demand for better experiences, app development teams are under pressure.