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By Adam Burden, North America’s leading technology and Accenture’s chief software engineer,
John Lennon and Paul McCarthy are two great songwriters in the history of music. Without their talents, pop music as we know it would not exist. What makes it even more amazing is that neither Beatles could actually read music – they learned the strings of each song by heart before committing to vinyl. This suggests something important: Creativity does not require formal training, only a means of expression.
It is a lesson that many enterprises can now apply to their systems using low-code / no-code tools. These tools enable everyone to create apps, even if they have little or no formal coding training. Such tools have been around since the 1990’s, but are now only being applied on a scale with cloud services and enterprise-grade software development. Forrester’s recent research predicts that by the end of 2021, low-code / no-code platforms will account for 75% of new app development. These tools reflect the democratization of technology – and the significant changes in how we manage, promote and feed innovation in our businesses.
Even at this early stage of adoption, some cases of unavoidable use are obvious. Most obviously, low-code / no-code can be used to automate repetitive and routine practical tasks. Low-code / no-code software turns users into developers, giving them the tools to automate the general and get the most value out of the tools they use.
But law-code / no-code is more than just automating the ordinary, it’s also about liberating the extraordinary. In the digital age, businesses need to move faster to adapt to change and adapt to change. Applications, therefore, need to be constantly evolving, publishing and refining at speed.
For example, at the onset of the Covid-19 epidemic, healthcare provider Gazinger saw a sudden 50% reduction in outpatient visits and an increase in patients and ICU needs. The company faces a major challenge in trying to get the right healthcare professionals to the right places at the right time. It came into action using Quickbase Inc.’s low-code development platform. In just one week, Geisinger staff was able to add a COVID-19 resource hub to their mobile app that helped coordinate and reassign thousands of health care workers to their network based on patients’ needs.
Innovation in the fast lane
Low-code / no-code is an important enabler for fast-paced innovation and for the equal benefit of professional and civic developers. First, low-code / no-code accelerates and simplifies agile sprints, as low-code / no-code tools can quickly create prototype interfaces or processes. Scales for low-code / no-code prototypes, which developers can then pad out with more detailed coding as needed.
Low-code / no-code also helps pro-coders reduce their workload. The lack of skilled coders represents a real drag on innovation and can be a huge burden on the company’s team of professional developers. Provides a solution by creating a new breed of civil developers capable of sharing low-code / no-code workloads.
Using Microsoft’s Power Apps, G&J Pepsi showed exactly why this approach is a game-changer. The company quickly created and utilized transformative digital applications in its inventory and merchandising operations. In one case, employees with very little experience in software development created an app that would examine store shelf images to identify the number and type of bottles on it, then automatically order the right items to restore based on historical trends. In all, the group created eight applications without a professional developer on staff and saved $ 500,000 in the first year alone.
Professional coders are batches and beethovenes of the enterprise, which combine intricate lines of code to create sophisticated functions and algorithms that result from years of dedication and formal training. Other employees are from our Lennox and McCart, creating beautiful and important applications that can change the world, but which are relatively easy to create. Low-code / no-code may well liberate developers, but it also puts an end to monopolies on innovation.
Tips for implementing low-code / no-code
Low-code / no-code is one of those disruptive movements that the enterprise cannot afford to ignore. Doing so will ultimately put the business at a competitive disadvantage. So, what should CIOs and other business leaders keep in mind when implementing a low-code / no-code approach? In my opinion, there are several key considerations:
- Review purchase vs. Create an equation. For years, Balance has favored purchasing commercial off-the-shelf products on an in-house building application. Low-code / no-code replaces this equation. There is still a compelling argument for using off-the-shelf software for commodized and generic core systems that directly affect the customer, employee, or partner experience. Although large software vendors recognize that consumers are no longer willing to wait to determine if it is important enough to design and release a feature six months from now – customers quickly expect new features, and low-code / no. -Code features help manage this expectation.
- Talent tour map, Expands the pool of talent available for low-code / no-code application development. For low-code / no-code users to achieve maximum results, training is required. While deep technical skills are not always required, civic developers will need to be taught how to think like traditional developers and architects and reuse common services and functions for efficiency and compatibility. Meanwhile, generations of developers trained in legacy systems such as Mainframe and Midrange may be incapable of working in the low-code / no-code cloud-first world, as they have invaluable knowledge of existing processes and systems.
- Put up security guardrails, Security and reusability are important issues. If you want your people to use the same authentication service for the application they are building, you need to build in the right level of governance. I recommend choosing low-code / no-code solutions that allow for the customization of tools to create a standard framework that civil developers can use by default.
- Start small and move slowly, Take enough time with your first low-code / no-code deployments to get any bad notes out before they become a major problem. As your citizen developers and IT staff build competencies and begin to better understand potential use cases, they can expand low-code / no-code programs and capabilities. This also gives time to adjust to more challenging notes such as reusable components such as security, data management and authentication. Slow and steady will always win the low-code / no-code race.
- Use the right instrument for the song, Low-code / no-code is one of the many tools available to build custom systems, but just like you wouldn’t add to a drum for a guitar solo, it’s not always the right tool to use. Low-code / no-code is an excellent choice for department-level applications that help automate specific processes. It is also a good choice for accelerating the front-end development of more complex, enterprise-level applications. But more sophisticated elements or functions often mean taking advantage of professional coding tools like Visual Studio to achieve a more layered melody.
Lennon and McCartney were great because they gave full control to their imaginations and enthusiasm and later changed the face of music in the process. Now, with low-code / no-code, enterprises are empowering their workers to do the same in a business context. I can’t wait to see the results. I am betting that our era of digital innovation is just beginning.
Adam Burden (adampburden) Is Accenture’s chief software engineer and North America’s lead for Accenture technology.
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