Why it’s high time to pay attention to low code

By Ritam Gandhi

Updated May 31, 2023 at 11:18 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed much about how we interact with the world. Moreover, it has rapidly accelerated long-term business trends in a perhaps irreversible fashion. The digital revolution has arrived. The challenging business conditions of the past year has forced most business—large or small—to adapt to this reality to survive. Britain’s various accompanying lockdowns and a ‘new normal’ of social distancing have set out a swathe of changing consumer demands, to which business leaders have begun to adapt.

What will be a surprise to some, though, is the pandemic sparking to life a new wave of entrepreneurial spirit in Britain. Throughout this period, there have been significant spikes in company incorporations. New gaps in the market, alongside remote working, have given budding entrepreneurs across the country the inspiration to set up on their own. In the four weeks to mid-December 2020, for instance, business incorporations were up 30 per cent on the same period in the year prior. In an increasingly digitalised market, there is only one guaranteed consequence of this: demand for IT development will skyrocket.

Startups, scaleups and established businesses have all come under unprecedented pressure to speed up the pace at which they can deliver new digital products and competitive online experiences. Meanwhile, the widespread pivot to digital has had the consequence of exposing companies to more competitive, often global, market environments, as a simple matter of survival.

This reveals the heart of the issue: for years, even predating the pandemic, the UK labour market has had to work around a troublesome digital skills gap. Put simply, this means the supply of highly skilled and specialised digital professionals falls far short of demand. Of course, this competitive environment benefits firms with the most to invest in hiring, giving the deepest pockets access to the best expertise to drive rapid and effective software development.

It is for this reason that low-code and no-code tools have had a busy past 12 months. The provision of autonomous software creation, deployment and management in the form of ready-made core modules and ‘building block’ style functionality has reduced not only the complexity of IT development, but in turn the associated costs and inefficiencies. These platforms are simply an ideal fit for businesses facing agile market conditions such as those we face today.

What is low-code development?

Low-code is a visual approach to software development that lets you abstract and automate every step of the application lifecycle to streamline the delivery of a variety of solutions. By breaking down traditional silos of business and IT (promoting continuous collaboration), your organisation can develop solutions that meet the needs of your business.

Why low-code?

In an environment where there is growing pressure to do more with less, the benefits are clear. Low-code and no-code platforms have simplified the process of product development and made it easier and faster to take an idea or solution from conception into practice reliably and at low cost.

By demystifying the development process, those with the strongest understanding of what applications will make the biggest difference to their business can take ownership over the digital offering and seamlessly respond to ever-changing consumer and business needs. Rather than clinging to traditional coding strategies, the low-code movement has empowered non-digital natives—or ‘citizen developers’—to find novel, digital-first ways to respond to problems old and new.

More established businesses will see an upside, too. Indeed, adoption among larger enterprise has accelerated rapidly throughout the pandemic. Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than half of all medium to large enterprises will have adopted some level of low-code development.

As we emerge from the most challenging phase of the pandemic, many firms will now look to evaluate the success of their pivot to digital, and begin to consider a longer-term view for their digital business strategy. Low-code and no-code platforms should be considered by anyone making such plans—however, it will be crucial for business leaders to consider with care how they can integrate these tools successfully.

Integrating low-code

Small businesses have near-total freedom in this area. In the past, integrating commerce, communications, marketing, and branding functions into a single platform could result in an expensive and time-consuming product development process. Often, this would delay time to market, while resulting in a product—whether an app or website—that was unwieldy and difficult to amend in response to market trends.

In fact, a recent report found that it takes the majority of in-house development teams three to six months to deliver an application. In the hyper-competitive post-COVID marketplace, this will leave many chasing the dust of their competitors. Efficiency is crucial for any SME, but so too is minimising overheads, and concentrating on improving the quality of their product. The ability to hand over parts of development to existing staff will also give agile firms a competitive edge when they launch to market, having taken the rapid low-cost low-code option.

In the case of more established firms, a popular strategy is to take a hybrid approach to integration. Commonly, this will use low-code tools for consumer- or client-facing front end platforms, where the benefits of rapid response and digital transformation will be most keenly observed. At the same time, platforms that are business-critical or long-term remain under the jurisdiction of in-house developers, who can hand-code these vital underlying systems that are less likely to require urgent response or troubleshooting.

With the market less predictable and more reliant on digital than ever before, and businesses of all shapes and sizes considering their next steps carefully, the benefits of low-code are obvious. The savings on costs and efficiencies could propel innovative new startups to scale at pace while allowing established firms to streamline to weather the storm ahead. It provides an interesting solution to the digital skills gap while giving business leaders more of a hand in overseeing their digital operations. With many firms expected to embrace these solutions in the near future, there has never been a better time to integrate low-code into your plans.

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