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Low-Code/No-Code Development – Collaboration on the Cloud

Low-Code/No-Code Development – Collaboration on the Cloud
November 18, 2020

Co-author: Anju Rachel Thomas

The concept of low-code was considered a rudimentary approach to program development, primarily designed for non-coders to create temporary in-house applications for internal operations. This initial judgment toward program development has shifted gears and low-code/no-code has gained widespread acceptance from developers and business users alike. In a 2019 report, Gartner forecasts that by the year 2024, low-code development will contribute to over 65% of application development activity. Nearly 75% of large enterprises will use at least four low-code interfaces for app and citizen development initiatives, the report further states. This is a testimony to the tool’s unique capabilities that enables a swift response to mission-critical production cycles that simply cannot be met by traditional methods.

No-code app development differs from low-code in the level of involvement of professional coders. It is purely intended for end-business users who dictate the application’s functionalities and interface layer through drag-and-drop actions. On the other hand, low-code app development depends on developers to specify the core design using hard code. The key benefit here is customization, enabling the platform to build complex applications and define processes that involve external application systems or databases.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of adoption of low-code application development tools has skyrocketed. The rationale behind this is simple. To fulfil the agility demands warranted by a disruptive environment, employees can now work remotely over cloud platforms and create entire projects with little or no knowledge of programing. This does not mean that the role of developers is made redundant by low-code app development tools. Skilled developers, in the meantime, can refocus their efforts toward activities that require their immediate expertise. The underlying idea is to build simple apps that can be seamlessly incorporated into extensive workflows or functions as the basis for developing full-fledged business applications on cloud platforms.

In the wake of the pandemic, the rate of adoption of low code application development tools have skyrocketed.

Low-Code Development: An Overview

Any low-code development platform (LCDP) is governed by the all-encompassing principle of model-driven development. It uses the abstraction of code to visually present blocks of functionality to users. Another key aspect is automation—of configuration, testing, and quality assurance, etc.—seamlessly assimilated under the surface layer of drag-and-drop. All these are put in place to inculcate a culture of openness that goes beyond application development, one that can easily indulge futuristic landscapes and get integrated with both legacy systems and emerging technology. Essentially, all these attributes point to the central theme of LCDP—collaboration.

There is another crucial element that deserves a spotlight of its own when discussing collaboration—the hybrid cloud application. Cloud applications were primarily designed to be accessible to multiple stakeholders, and the hybrid cloud environment has taken this up a notch to allow orchestration across various platforms. Facilitating interoperability takes precedence in digital transformation journeys, with the rising demand for continuous innovations necessitating an agile, scalable, and flexible ecosystem that harbors automation. Low-code development platforms fit perfectly within this narrative in the sense that every paradigm-altering feature they provide is augmented by the features and advantages the hybrid cloud environment has to offer.

Collaboration Among People—BizDevOps

Agility is of prime importance in today’s ultra-competitive business landscape. The need to become resilient has led to the development of the agile methodology, which has evolved to an operations and deployment supportive culture called DevOps. With automated CI/CD pipelines for compiling, testing and deployment, and auto-provisioned environments characterized by high optimization and availability, i.e., the cloud, DevOps has reduced the risk of failures and downtimes.

However, IT projects can still fail when the business outcomes aligned to the application are not realized. This is because of a lack of collaboration between business users and program engineers, often resulting in a gap between what is developed and what the business entails. To counter this gap, DevOps is evolving to a new methodology known as BizDevOps. This approach brings market responsiveness into the development-deployment processes through the combined efforts of developers, operations personnel, and business units to create a streamlined workflow with strategy at its center. This concept is manifested in low-code development platforms.

LCDP allows everyone involved in the project to communicate in the same language—the visual model. It leaves no room for misinterpretations or details to be lost in translation. All stakeholders stay invested in the entire process from ideation to deployment as they together identify challenges and propose solutions. The number of iterations is reduced, and bottlenecks are eliminated as business users make choices along with their technically skilled counterparts simultaneously. Thus, the time-to-market for critical business applications is much less compared to those made the traditional way.

Collaboration Among Systems—Scaling Toward the Future

Every breakthrough technology—artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge computing, and the Internet of things—have one factor in common, a massive need for data processing capabilities. The key challenge for IT systems is adaptability to dynamic innovations, which is best satisfied by utilizing services on the hybrid cloud.

LCDP is ideal for future-proofing IT, considering the endless ways by which this platform can be exploited. Low-code is not just a tool for creating apps. The model is abstract enough to harness all existing and yet-to-be-developed tools and technologies to fashion unique ecosystems that can support any imaginable business application. Through LCPD, any organization can enhance their capabilities through unlimited resources available on major public cloud platforms, and integrate these to form functionalities they could never produce by themselves, thus making scalability theoretically infinite.

Collaboration with the Customer—Multi-Experience

A term coined by Gartner in 2018, multi-experience refers to delivering fluid customer experiences across technologies and channels that are tailored to suit an individual’s current context and accessible touch points. Here, consistency is key as people navigate devices and modalities. A popular example of a seamless multi-experience approach is Domino’s Pizza. With a total of 15 different ways to order a pizza, the brand achieved 90 times increase in stock value as they leveraged technology to preserve progress and circumstance.

Low-code platforms are integral to the objective of obtaining consistency. By formulating a set of reusable experience components comprising design, UX, logic, and data and integrations, customers can traverse through various forms of engagement without having to relearn. LCDP removes complexities that hinder the infrastructure from providing optimal experiences to every single user, every time. The hybrid cloud provides digital experience components that permit LCDP to create without limits, thus accelerating the speed of multi-experience delivery.

In conclusion, collaboration empowers the right solution to be built in the shortest time possible through faster decision-making, leading to lower backlogs and shorter turnaround times. With 90% of enterprises embracing the cloud, Forrester and Gartner believe cloud to be a fundamental component for low-code application development. With most low-code development platforms such as the Domino Volt being easily scalable on cloud-native architecture, you can build relevant high-quality applications that align with business outcomes and are future-oriented.