One large analyst firm ranks low-code platform providers against more than 190 criteria to determine which vendor(s) offers the widest range of low-code capabilities and benefits. We don’t have time to cover all 190 low-code platform benefits here, but we do want to cover some of the biggest advantages a true enterprise-class low-code development platform has over no-code platforms or niche low-code solutions that are suitable for only a narrow range of use-cases.
Of all the benefits of low-code development, the ability to significantly and positively impact the delivery of new software and applications is the most important. In his August 2018 blog post, Why You Need To Know About Low-Code, Even If You’re Not Responsible for Software Delivery, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, John Rymer, wrote that low-code offers the potential to “make software development as much as 10 times faster than traditional methods.”
Several time-saving capabilities found in some enterprise-class low-code development platforms include:
- Drag-and-drop functionality that lets you build apps faster using pre-built user interface (UI) functionality and designs, business processes, logic, and data models for full-stack, cross-platform apps.
- Integration with third-party tools that developers already rely on thanks to easy-to-implement APIs and components.
- One-click application delivery that automatically tracks all changes and handles database scripts and deployment processes without the time-consuming involvement by teams of developers and integration specialists. (Note: This functionality is not available in all low-code platforms)
2. Appeal to a Broad User-Base
Low-code development typically allows users to build applications in their preferred native coding language or using the visual modeler. Modern low-code platforms include the latest in third-generation language (3GL) support, giving professional developers the choice of using low-code’s inherent capabilities for faster app development (e.g., pre-built code modules, UI templates, etc.) with the option to switch over to hand-coding when they need to build something not included in the solution’s design library.
Some low-code solutions come with ample pre-built functionality and code that even non-professional users can build simple applications. These users are known as “Citizen Developers” or “Business Users.” Simply put, these users are technically minded enough to understand how to use a visual modeler to create applications, but they lack the professional developer experience necessary to build more complex applications, at least initially.
However, the ability to work entirely within the visual environment, even as a professional developer, is a big draw for those looking to save time over traditional hand-coding.
3. Automated Governance
Since we are on the topic of citizen developers, one unique selling point of a truly enterprise-class low-code solution is that it includes built-in governance capabilities. What this means is that the low-code solution is administered and managed by the organization’s professional IT team. So, while business users can certainly use the solution to build apps they feel the organization needs, nothing can be deployed without the final involvement and approval of IT. Think of it as “managed freedom.”
Sometimes business users have amazing ideas for new business apps. But also, sometimes getting those apps greenlit by IT is difficult due to existing backlogs or budgets. This can give rise to “Shadow IT”, a term used to describe unsanctioned business users building (or sometimes just downloading) apps and using them as part of their daily processes, but without the knowledge and approval of the IT department.
Governance controls make it possible for business users to skip the front-end involvement by IT (with ITs knowledge that it’s happening); develop the app on their own and then involve IT on the backend when it’s time to test and deploy the new app. This lets IT satisfy the desires of business users for apps that help them with their daily tasks while also ensuring that the organization’s processes and data remain under the close scrutiny of those who are entrusted with its security and success.
4. Tight Support for DevOps
Traditionally, there are two distinct groups within IT: developers, and operations. Developers create applications. Operations is more complex. For simplicity, consider “Operations” as everything IT does that does not involve writing code, either manually or using a low-code solution.
These “non-code” tasks include things like security vulnerability scanning, testing, integrations, hosting, backups/disaster recovery, analytics, etc. An enterprise-class low-code development platform helps IT connect these disparate groups so that everyone can work together on a single platform and towards similar goals.
Some areas where an enterprise-class low-code platform excels is in the areas of:
- Deployment: An advantage of using low-code is that it can speed up the entire deployment process. When the code has been built and tested, with the click of a button, the code undergoes a dependency check to ensure that any connected code won’t be negatively impacted upon deployment. Passing the dependency check, the entire code is immediately deployed and updated, including the user interface (UI), database, workflows, and everything else needed to run the application.
- Analytics: Another benefit of low-code development platforms is the ability to easily embed feedback mechanisms into your apps. Once deployed, you can begin to track and analyze metrics such as usage, issues with availability, and overall sentiment. With low-code’s ability to quickly iterate based on feedback, you can identify problems or necessary changes in real-time, and build and deploy them across your entire user-base at once.
- Management: Professional developers use a multitude of different apps and systems to do things like code changes, versioning control, and continuous integration. Low-code development platforms should provide these capabilities directly, or better yet, allow developers to integrate with the tools of their choice. This extends the capabilities of the low-code development platform, but in ways that are already familiar and comfortable for the people using it.
5. Advanced Multi-Channel Capabilities
The benefits of B2C applications are well-documented. They offer the ability to extend an organization’s physical presence online and in doing so, make it easier for businesses and customers to interact. This can also create challenges. How do you scale your services, support, and knowledge base to support an always-on, always-available demand economy?
This is where the benefits of low-code shine. With an enterprise-class low-code solution, you can create multi-channel touchpoints that include traditional web and mobile apps, but with the advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning functionality built-in.
The addition of chatbots, and all the functionality of a live call-center, without the cost of a live call center, built into your web and mobile apps, let you quickly scale up to meet your customers’ needs.