Low-Code and No-Code Are Indispensable to Digital Transformation

Posted by on October 05, 2020

Security Orchestration

One of the most significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the massive shift to remote work. If this shift has taught U.S. companies anything, it's the importance of enabling employees to manage their own environments and their own experiences—and to interact in a meaningful way with the work flows they manage. This includes the ability to create or improve workplace apps by themselves, without knowing how to code software and without relying on support from their help desks.

Low-code and no-code platforms make this possible. The growing importance of these platforms was underscored in a recent survey we commissioned with Lawless Research: 57 percent of respondents said that their companies use low-code/no-code.

The spread of COVID-19 has created an environment in which low-code/no-code is thriving. Two direct results of the pandemic—the remote work boom and new requirements for customers to interact with vendors digitally instead of in person—require precisely the advantages that low-code and no-code development offer.

Those advantages include greater ease of use, unmatched accessibility for professional and citizen developers alike, automation of repetitive manual tasks, faster implementation, and lower costs. Surveyed companies that deployed both professional and citizen developers were more productive, experienced larger reductions in shadow IT, and developed and delivered apps more rapidly than those deploying only professional developers.

The Urgency of Digital Transformation

All of these factors come into play in the context of digital transformation, which companies have continued to pursue, sometimes at an accelerated pace, throughout the COVID-19-dominated economic downturn. Sixty percent of survey respondents said that transformation was a high priority for their companies during the pandemic and would remain so, compared with 61 percent prior to the pandemic.

According to Bloomberg, three sudden and dramatic COVID-19-driven shifts—remote work, digital interaction between customers and vendors, and redesigned supply chains—are pushing companies to implement digital transformation with much greater urgency than before. Companies and industries have tried to make the move to digital for years with varying degrees of success, but the pandemic has forced many to acknowledge that neither inaction nor failure is an option any longer.

In other words: As digital competitiveness becomes table stakes, the risk of not transforming has become an existential risk—even as COVID-19 rages. Hence the indispensability of low-code/no-code.

Transformation Is Driven by Low-Code and No-Code Platforms

It’s fair to say, then, that digital transformation is impossible without low-code and no-code tools. The benefits cited above—particularly the democratization of coding by making it simpler both for professional and citizen developers—enable transformation to proceed much more rapidly and with broader workforce participation.

Another Lawless survey finding underscores the essential role of no-code and low-code platforms. Respondents from companies that had reached either a mature stage of digital transformation or a state of high IT efficiency—the survey’s “best of the best” companies—reported much higher usage of low-code and no-code platforms than those reporting a less-evolved approach to digital transformation and lower IT efficiency. Seventy-nine percent of companies that reported a high level of digital maturity used low-code/no-code, compared to 49 percent of those that were less advanced. Similarly, 78 percent of companies that reported a high level of IT efficiency used low-code/no-code compared with 42 percent of those with a lower level of IT efficiency. 

Businesses must be more flexible and adaptive in terms of how they implement digital transformation; no-code and low-code tools provide the way to do that. These tools ensure that organizations can implement digital transformation initiatives quickly and effectively. And they put the capability to extend transformation maturity and IT efficiency into the hands of the employees who best understand the work processes and know where the processes aren’t functioning properly.

Keys to the Future: No-Code and Low-Code Development

Despite the criticality of low-code/no-code approach to digital transformation, some companies continue to resist adopting it. There are a number of reasons why.

In OutSystems’s 2019/2020 The State of Application Development survey, respondents named their top five such reasons. These were lack of knowledge about low-code platforms (cited by 47 percent of respondents); concern about being locked into dealing with a specific vendor (37 percent); pessimism about being able to build the apps needed (32 percent); concern about the scalability of the apps created (28 percent); and concern about the apps’ security (25 percent). In light of the economic pain wrought by COVID-19, lack of available funds would probably be a reasonable addition to the list.

Of course, similar numbers (reflecting similar objections) used to always show up in surveys about remote work. And then things changed very rapidly. It will be interesting to see how much these attitudes towards low-code and no-code development have shifted by the time the next iteration of this survey is performed.

Still, some objections will linger and some organizations will hold out. What will happen to companies that decide against adopting a low-code or no-code platform? Based on current trends, it looks like the odds are heavily against them. No-code and low-code have become a matter of survival.

No-code and low-code tools have more than proven themselves in the face of the ongoing crisis. The marketplace is emphatically declaring that companies must use them if they want to remain competitive. By the time the smoke of the pandemic clears, it’s likely that few resisters will be left standing. No-code and low-code platforms are here to stay.

Read more findings from the Lawless Research survey of managers and executives both inside and outside corporate IT departments in our eBook, The Virtuous Circle of Digital Transformation

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