The Return of No-Code Development

Posted by on March 05, 2020

No Code Development

There’s no question about it―low-code development platforms are hot. Forrester estimates that the low-code space is growing at a rate of 50 percent per year. Meanwhile, Gartner predicts that by 2024, three out of four large enterprises will be using at least four different low-code tools, and that low-code app development will account for 65 percent of all application development activity. And no-code platforms are coming right along with them.

What can be driving this explosive growth? Gartner attributes it to a “confluence of disruptions.” Modern IT architectures and digital transformation initiatives are creating a wide variety of new use cases—mobile apps, new user experiences, new business processes, etc. But don’t let that give you the idea that low-code application development, or even no-code development, is anything new. It may be on the rise now, but this is not no-code’s first rodeo. No-code is having a comeback.

To explain how that can be the case, we have to go back a few years. 

Some History: From the First Computer to Modern-Day Programming Language

In 1946, the University of Pennsylvania introduced ENIAC―the world’s first general purpose electronic computer. Although unbelievably crude and weak by today’s standards, ENIAC was hundreds of times faster than the analog computers that preceded it. Plus it could run any program, making it, effectively, the ancestor of every computer we have today (including the device you’re reading this on). 

And here’s an interesting tidbit: ENIAC was a pure no-code environment. It wasn’t even low-code. Code didn’t come into the picture. Technicians programmed ENIAC by physically flipping switches and plugging and unplugging cables. Every program was an elaborate network of physical connections. So, yes, it was no-code. But it was also (by all accounts) no fun. The work was incredibly tedious and frustrating.


ENIAC, the original no-code development environment. 

What early programmers needed was a way to automate making physical connections. Enter binary code. Binary provided a way to tell the computer to make the connections itself. The “language” was a seemingly endless series of ones and zeroes, originally punched into stacks of cards that the computer could read.The cards may have been a step up from making all the connections yourself, but it was still pretty tedious and unforgiving.

Binary Code

Some binary code

After binary came assembly language, which was a bit easier to work with. But it still required that programmers think like a computer in order to use it. 

And then, in 1953, there was a breakthrough. A researcher working for IBM had an inspiration. What if, he wondered, there was a way to make talking to the computer a little more like talking to another person? What if you could  use words and numbers, and put them into a syntax like language? The solution was dubbed Fortran, the first high-level programming language. Fortran accelerated the application development process, simplifying the lifecycle by making  it easier to deploy and update applications. If ENIAC was the original no-code environment, Fortran was the original DevOps. After Fortran came many other, often simpler, programming languages including familiar names like C, Python, Javascript, and other languages popular with coders today. The drive to make programming more intuitive led to early low-code development platforms like Microsoft Visual Basic and ultimately the wide variety of low-code platforms, and now no-code platforms, in use today.


Fortran was a game-changer

3 Drivers Led to Digital Tools

Assessing the importance of no-code platforms today requires understanding the critical transition that occured over the decades.  So what led these computer pioneers to evolve from manual tools to automated tools to more intuitive digital tools? Ultimately, it came down to three things.

They wanted to do more with less. In the case of moving from ENIAC to binary code, it was a matter of doing the same computing workload with less physical effort. In the case of adopting a high-level coding language like Fortran, users were suddenly able to work with just a few basic statements, each of which represented pages and pages of binary code. It was a  tremendous compression of effort.

They wanted to empower users. With each new step in the evolutionary process, the users of these systems could do more. Each iteration was both more capable and more intuitive than the one that came before it. With better tools, better user interfaces, and a deeper understanding of what those tools could do, business users began to take a more active role in app development.  

They wanted to accelerate innovation. These empowered business users found that they could try many more combinations than they could before. They could see the results of what they were doing much faster. They could easily identify and correct mistakes and then move on. Such a combination of benefits encourages productivity as well as innovation. These users found they could get better at getting better.

Back to the Future

It’s interesting to look at that list of drivers and realize that, for all the differences, the world of today shares some important similarities with the world of 70 years ago. Over the decades, technology developers have consistently looked for ways to do more with less, to empower end-users, and to speed up innovation. Gartner’s “confluence of disruptions” ultimately comes down to a convergence of efforts to achieve these three critical goals.

The introduction of low-code application development platforms (and the “reintroduction” of no-code tools) is very much the product of those three drivers. Organizations that incorporate low-code and no-code development are able to do more with less, leveraging the ease of use these platforms provide to achieve the same or better results, while reducing their dependence on often limited numbers of professional developers available. They empower users with intuitive tools that require little or no programming experience. And they drive innovation by putting a broader range of creative minds to work on each new challenge.

So no-code development leads to code-based development, which leads on to low-code development platforms. And then finally we end up all the way back at no-code development. The importance of no-code platforms becomes clearer when we consider this remarkable evolution.

It’s All About the No-Code Development Platform

When the founders of Cherwell Software set out to develop an intuitive platform to automate service management workflows across the enterprise, they realized the importance of no-code development and put it  at the heart of that platform. Cherwell CORE is a no-code development and delivery platform that serves as the logical foundation for Cherwell’s ITSM and ESM (enterprise service management) solutions. The platform is designed to support any combination of pre-built and custom-built applications to meet your organization’s service management requirements. 

Cherwell No-Code Development

The platform is designed to enable organizations to achieve higher levels of IT operational maturity, which is a modern take on doing more with less. Cherwell’s IT Service Management capability provides IT teams a pathway to greater IT operational maturity through pre-built, accessible and easy-to-implement workflows representing best practices for ITSM. No hand-coding required.

The platform also helps businesses to elevate customer and employee experiences, which both empowers users and, through growing customer satisfaction levels, drives better business outcomes. The Cherwell CORE platform provides for elevated experiences through the wide number of channels it supports for creating employee experiences (everything from email to Slack to a walk-up service desk experience.) 

Additionally, it expands ITSM into ESM by giving employees a common experience when raising or managing incidents whether they be in IT, customer service, facilities, security, or some other business process.  Most importantly, it helps organizations to innovate in an agile and business-focused way, ensuring that innovations that originate in IT can drive positive business results. The no-code platform enables a new generation of citizen developers, non-programmers who modify existing work flows and even develop whole new ones, widening the pool of available talent who can contribute to innovation. 

Cherwell Benefits

The Cherwell CORE platform enables businesses to pursue these three drivers which map closely to the ongoing drivers of doing more with less, empowering users, and accelerating innovation. At each stage, we’re able to achieve faster and better results, put more capability into the hands of more users, and and better align innovation with business results. As this virtuous cycle continues, the importance of no-code development cannot be overstated. It becomes possibly the biggest disrupter of them all. 

To learn more about the disruptive potential of no-code development, watch our recorded LinkedIn Live video or sign up for a demo

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