Imagining a Native Low-Code World
The tectonic shift we experienced in 2020 has shined a spotlight on the growing need for increased agility and software personalization.
We’re seeing more and more companies across industries adopting software-driven business models, migrating to the cloud and connecting with customers in a wide variety of digital channels. With this move toward an increasingly digital-native world, we have witnessed a significant change in the approach in which tools and technologies are being engineered across all enterprises.
Not every business user has to be an expert in engineering or have sizable budgets to realize the needs for deploying certain non-complex but contextual business apps.
Low-code is a technology where developers can create applications and solutions with the help of a platform, instead of building an entire application from scratch. This efficiency allows for developers and business teams to build capabilities that are unique to a specific enterprise need — in a matter of days or weeks instead of months. It also minimizes the need for large, dedicated developer teams, which is especially helpful as good development talent is often hard to come by.
In a world where consumer needs and market trends are volatile — and as people continue to expand upon their digital engagement in the surge of e-commerce, remote work, video collaboration and more — there is a need for applications and capabilities to scale up in an instant. And low-code provides that benefit.
But where does this potential peak? What would widespread low-code really look like, and how would it transform the ways that people of all industries work on a daily basis?
Building Truly Personalized Enterprise Tools
In a world where low-code is truly widespread, anyone can be a developer. Today’s tools and applications are built with larger teams in mind at the enterprise and even industry levels. But if low-code were to become ingrained in our day-to-day lives, employees can build capabilities to fit their individual needs or skill sets.
Imagine the life of a digital marketing professional who is keen on driving business outcomes and requires contextual automation based on knowledge that is unique to each enterprise. Enterprise software limits the options of such a professional to develop new solutions for orchestrating a new workflow process or a small but relevant application coupled with context-aware data.
Typically, adopting any new functionality requires a cross-functional team, including the development organization. If the digital marketing professional mentioned above were a low-code native and had access to a low-code developer platform, she would be able to develop a tool that leverages AI, automation and workflows to develop a context-aware app. The potential applications here are endless in the world of sales, marketing, finance operations and more. Almost every position in every industry that operates digitally would benefit from personalized low-code capabilities.
Low-code solutions also have a tremendous value proposition for established development teams to create fully produced prototype versions — laying the groundwork for more scalable, cyber-resilient products platforms. These prototypes could then be vetted based on feedback from the initial rollout of solutions that are developed in a rapid, agile way using low-code platforms. TCS itself is also using low-code platforms to develop contextual discovery assessments and analysis tools for digital transformations enabled by data, AI and cloud.
Barriers to Entry
Low-code technologies have helped businesses scale up new solutions in several different instances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have provided teams with a solution to build something entirely new to meet shifts in consumer demand — so these benefits aren’t just speculative, they’re proven.
That said, we’re still very far off from a world where everyone is oriented to be low-code native. Developers’ jobs would shift dramatically from building applications and capabilities for the back end to partnering with business teams to nurture and encourage low-code building capabilities that will drive greater agility for the enterprise. Dedicated developer teams would still be needed to help create the necessary building blocks for meeting the comprehensive requirements for each low-code platform solution if it is to truly scale across each industry and function.
Also, there would need to be a significant overhaul of employee education and reskilling for such a transition. Enterprises today are already having to navigate the retraining and reskilling of their workforces as we shift to a fully or hybrid distributed way of working for the foreseeable future. Adding a layer to that, which would require enterprises to teach its employees about coding, is simply not a priority right now.
Low-code provides an opportunity for a future where role-specific tool creation is possible, but there are several other steps that need to be taken before we can see something like that in action.
One of the key risks associated with low-code development is adherence to corporate security, compliance standards — and guarding against any deterioration in governance. We must establish low-code development standards; agree upon areas of synergy and standard operating procedures; and understand the overlap between the agendas and priorities of the offices of technology, the architecture governance board, the chief information security officer and those responsible for privacy and compliance.
But assuming those risks are accounted for, it would be a fascinating world to work in if we — even those who aren’t experts in software development — had the ability to create the tools we needed for our own specific roles.