Businesses need digital transformation to reduce costs, to increase productivity and to be more efficient.
Consider the real world example of a housing management organisation, that manages several hundred properties in the UK. With such a large portfolio, the organisation has to send out several repairs/voids/tenant management service teams to various properties.
Due to the constant and rising demand for services, the organisation finds that the already cumbersome way of filling paper forms becomes more and more expensive, inadequate and inefficient. Not only are there costs involved in filling out forms in triplicate, the data gathered needs to be entered into data processing systems back in the office, by teams of data administrators, then the workflow has to be kicked off, often on cumbersome legacy systems that are not seamlessly integrated.
All this is compounded by the inevitable mistakes made in reading illegible handwriting, and the delays in SLAs, given the time required to turn around the tasks. Additionally, misplaced paper forms not only led to more inefficiency, but also genuine data protection issues due to personal data contained on those forms potentially falling into the wrong hands.
For this housing management organisation, the time was ripe for the advent of secure mobile applications. They created a range of powerful applications available on mobile devices, that enabled service teams to access necessary property data on site, and stored gathered form data instantly, to kickstart workflow processes and approvals within minutes.
It was estimated that for one of the digitised processes, the costs were reduced from £15 per task to 5p! The SLA response went down from a week to ten days to two days. Imagine when that is scaled up to hundreds of thousands of tasks every year?
Low code/no code platforms
Whereas in the traditional model of software development, the development of applications has been linear and dependent on large IT budgets. It required teams of highly skilled developers, digital project managers and consultants normally working with waterfall methodologies.
With the advent of low code/no code platforms, all that has begun to change. The power of low code/no code platforms combined with Agile work methodology has radically begun to change the workplace.
Several low code/no code platforms have entered the marketplace. Some have been around for a decade now and have matured into stable, robust platforms. They range from enterprise-level platforms that use complex algorithms to work out the entirety of the application natively from models; to the rapid development/prototyping platforms that can knock out a test application in a single day.
The rise of the ‘citizen developer’
With all this power in one’s hands, is this the end of the skilled web applications developer? Is this the end of knowing the fundamentals of coding? The engagement of a new breed of office worker, known as the ‘citizen developer’ has the power to radically change how we work today.
The citizen developer is an employee of any department, who has innate knowledge of the business requirements of his/her department. But they have possibly have limited or perhaps even no coding skills. They are however, able to take on the challenge of designing and developing native Android or iOs apps to suit their business needs and very rapidly at that!
While the citizen developer concentrates on declarative application construction, or simply the dragging and dropping controls to create forms and applications abstracted from the complex code behind, i.e. everything technical under the hood is taken care of by the the low code platform. With the single click deployment at the end of this construction, a native iOs, Android or web browser based application is created, available for testing and deployment to a production environment.
So, does this mean the end of skilled professional programmers?
The short answer is no.
While low code platforms allow users to engage rapid app development for simple applications and eForms, there are still the skilled tasks of data modelling, querying, business logic, validation, testing and hundreds of other complex tasks that are needed for the more complex applications. This is best left to the programmers, which is also why low code/no code will never become just no code.
The power to do more, a lot more, and very quickly – is here.
Low code/no code platforms are here to stay and get better with every iteration. With the power of these platforms at hand, businesses rapidly ushering in digital transformation across the board, that has led to enormous savings in money and man hours.
Jagan Devaraj, 12 September 2018