If you have heard of low-code, then the above question will come as no surprise to you, but if you haven’t, let’s explain what low-code technology is and why it’s so important in todays’ IT landscape. 

Traditional software development is known to be slow and expensive, as well as complex. This complexity is what demands the need for highly skilled and knowledgeable software developers. According to a joint study by Mckinsey and Oxford, most large-scale IT projects fail to deliver on time, to budget, but most importantly, on value. 

What is a low-code development platform?

Low-code is a development framework that is visually augmented with a drag & drop canvas. Developers are able to drag and drop specific, reusable components and connect them with one another, on a virtual canvas to build software faster. These components are pre-programmed with a set of configurations allowing the developer to use them to suit their business application logic.   

These low-code development platforms are primarily intended for citizen developers to build applications to solve the challenges and problems they encounter in their businesses and organisations. These developers do not need to be highly skilled, technical resources but rather more business savvy, functional consultants, who are experts of their own business domains. They are expected to only possess high level knowledge of software engineering concepts, which can be easily acquired through self-learning. 

Platforms that enable software development by non-technical business users, making the building of software applications cheaper and faster, are identified as Low-Code Development Platforms (LCDP).

How does it work?

LCDP enables citizen developers to build applications using pre-programmed components and templates. More often than not, people at the business end have little to no experience in coding while software development teams have little in depth knowledge of the business requirements, or the core business unit. LCDPs present an attractive, yet reliable solution to solve this problem by providing a programming interface with visual building blocks for easy use by anyone at the business end of the organisation. 

A low code development platform (LCDP) consists mainly of 3 parts:

  • Graphical User Interface (GUI) : A simple drag and drop canvas that enables non-technical, business users to program an application by configuring inputs, outputs and operations as necessary. 
  • Integrations for I/O: Low code platforms offer interfaces to databases for data input and provide the ability to configure application outputs. 
  • Application manager: Similar to mainstream Integrated Development Environments (IDE), LCDPs too have tools to compile, debug and deploy low code applications.

Why is it important now?

In 2020, the global low-code market was estimated at USD13.2 billion and according to Gartner research, the worldwide low-code market will grow by 23% in 2021. Recognised as one of the trending technologies, low-code is expected to grow beyond USD45.5 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.1% within the forecasted period. 

Businesses have realised that by using low-code platforms, they are able to quickly develop and deploy apps to solve modern day business challenges, reducing the pressure on their IT teams. In a relatively short time, LCDPs have proven to be highly effective in facilitating the development of valuable business use cases and end-user solutions in critical industries such as banking, telco, insurance and healthcare. They’re also the best suited technology framework for automating manual, time consuming business processes in any business domain. 

Low code platforms facilitate producing apps 10 times faster than coding from scratch. Where the go-to-market time, agility and user friendliness of a solution are key drivers for any businesses looking for a competitive edge, low-code development platforms deliver on all three, while adding integrating innovation & entrepreneurship to their employee’s skill set.

What are some of the use cases of low-code development?

  • Customer Engagement Apps
  • Operational Efficiency Apps
  • Legacy Migration Apps
  • Contact Center Applications
  • E-Government Applications

What are some limitations of low-code development?

Although the purpose of LCDPs is to ease the burden on software development, it cannot be considered a one size fits all solution for every development task, due to the following limitations.

  • Limited customisation: Customisation is important in building unique, superior software solutions. Limited customisation in LCDPs often forces businesses to adjust their internal processes to meet the capabilities of the low-code platform. 
  • Limited integration capability: This is what mainly differentiates standard software development from low-code development. LCDPs can face integration issues especially with complex legacy systems, requiring skilled software developers to resolve. 
  • Limited flexibility: It’s no surprise that low-code apps, with limited components, are more simple to use for non-technical users. But when a customer wants to add a specific feature, there is a possibility that the set building blocks may not meet the business requirement. In such cases, custom code is required to implement the new feature. Introduction of custom coding within LCDPs can pose a challenge for future maintenance.
  • Security: Low-code apps are cloud-based, developed by non-technical users with limited background in information security. Hence, security breaches could be a risk in low code applications, therefore proper audits should be conducted before exposing them for external use.  

However, it must be understood that not all business problems are suited for low code development. Standard software development will still dominate the industry when it comes to solving complex business problems. But for those simple, business challenges that don’t require a team of software developers, LCDPs present an amazing opportunity to develop customer oriented apps much faster and with a hugely reduced development cost. 

Rajitha Peiris 
Associate Business Analyst Lead