What Is a Low-Code Platform? A guide to choosing the best low-code platform in the market
In today’s disruptive business ecosystem, where every other organisation is trying to gain a competitive edge over others, the demand for technologically skilled employees is increasing multifold. The spree of digital transformation effectively means that organisational innovation must be at par to deliver the latest tech products utilising the latest workflows. Low-code platforms emerge as possible solutions for making these processes and workflows agile!
There may never be enough developers in your organisation to automate every flow. What if we revolutionise the software development processes and make coding super easy with visual components or Graphical User Interfaces? Now, the product managers or CXOs have to simply drag-and-drop, and tada! The website is ready!
According to Gartner, “By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity”. Low-code software has effectively helped businesses develop low-cost enterprise-grade applications, along with more powerful automated workflows and accelerate the notion of digital transformation by empowering the “citizen” (non-professional) developers.
So, let us deep dive into what a low-code platform is, its benefits, and which of them works best for your organisation.
What is a low-code platform?
Low-code platforms use low code as their software development processes that require little or absolutely no coding to build applications or processes. They allow you to design enterprise-ready software and automation pipelines, optimising and revolutionising your product delivery. By breaking down the traditional silos of the knowledge gap, complex coding work hours and production bugs, low-code platforms can streamline and customise according to your business needs, and that too without coding!
Low-Code Development Platforms (LCADs) often use a collection of beautiful UI/UX, visual tools, existing code snippets, or graphical components. The drag-and-drop functionality allows you to use and reuse these components in your application in a matter of seconds, skipping the part of hand-coding. Therefore, rather than worrying about programming logic and syntax, you will be focusing more on integration, automated testing, and its delivery.
Thanks to the makers of this emerging technology, no formal training period is needed to use it. Business and mobile apps get developed using standard components such as pre-coded forms, report templates, and ready-to-use code snippets. Most LCADs also offer ready-made apps that we can install and customise based on specific requirements.
Along with minimal upfront investment in on-premises servers, databases, training, and delivery, low-code platforms also enable you to collaborate and digitise at a rapid pace. This practice stands as a golden opportunity for budding startups or change-makers in the IT industry. Now, they no longer need to wait for months for their mobile app to get ready!
Low-code platforms are loaded with a horizon of more benefits that we will explore in the next section.
Benefits of low-code platforms
From accelerated app delivery to improved customer experience, low-code development platforms have a wide range of benefits. Let us take a look at each of them.
● Unparalleled time-to-value
Low-code platforms allow you to make the most of the existing talent to build and deliver apps rapidly. Low-code components such as visual GUIs, existing code controllers, and pre-defined toolkits significantly enhance developer productivity. Cross-collaboration between different teams, promoted by built-in tools, helps foster quick decision-making. These benefits promote the idea of a rich and powerful business ecosystem.
● Flexibility and scalability
Increasing customer demands necessitate regular service upgrades for any enterprise application. Adapting to the new requirements is very easy with low-code platforms. They come with the ability to build more in less time at reduced costs.
You can develop solutions for your end-users, including mobile apps, web apps, conversational bots, and innovative solutions. These solutions are highly maintainable and easy to scale on cloud-native architecture.
● Eliminating shadow IT
Business users have to adapt third-party apps outside their IT infrastructure. Due to app proliferation, this causes a lot of security risks. Business users and citizen developers can design their apps without using IT and share sensitive data with third parties with the help of low-code solutions. This benefit curbs the use of unsanctioned IT software.
● Effective security and governance
It's easy to manage everything under a roof for an entire organisation with low-code platforms. They provide the necessary security frameworks, authentication mechanisms, and governance controls for your applications. The additional security features include admin tools, access control, and threat assessments.
● Enhanced customer experience
Low-code platforms facilitate quick responses to market changes and customer needs. This could be via prompt delivery of updated apps or effortless updating of existing apps. Significant time gets saved when using a low-code approach. The time saved can be used to deliver a richer customer experience.
● Business - IT collaboration
With the out-of-the-box capabilities of the low-code development platforms and an intriguing UI, business professionals and software developers are empowered to speak the same product development language and create amazing products on a single platform.
Choosing the best low-code platform
After reading about the business agility, higher productivity, and reduced cost benefits of low-code platforms, one ought to implement the same in their organisation. But, to code or not to code?
The following factors can guide you to decide whether to go for a low-code platform or not.
● The skillset of the app-building team
If you have fewer developers, then it calls for using low-code platforms. But, the introduction of new technology that nobody is familiar with poses a significant level of risk.
● The skillset of the app maintenance team
Every app built with code or with no code requires regular updates and maintenance. Beneath the intuitive UI layer that low-code platforms offer, the end application made for the customers comprises code and logic. Hence, if there might be a future need for different functionality, a service upgrade using low-code may not be possible.
● Legacy vs custom apps
Using legacy software is not bad for your organisation if it excels in parameters such as changing market and customer demands. An application platform for low-code will allow you to migrate your legacy platforms faster and result in a cleaner code base with a modern services-based architecture that's easier to maintain.
● Customer needs
Ultimately, everything depends on the needs of your customer - whether it is several steps and screens or the most enriched experience possible in which users are guided throughout. Most customers rather want something in between. Here comes the role of APIs that work together with the existing IT systems carrying low-code infrastructure.
These factors are crucial while choosing the best low-code development platform available in the market today. Some of these are - Appian, Microsoft Power Apps, Mendix, Zoho Creator, Salesforce Lightning, and Airtable.