Welcome to the low-code development revolution

Low-code development opens up a whole new world of user-friendly, low-cost, time-saving software projects. This guide gives a complete overview of how your business could benefit from the low code revolution.

Working in a low-code development world

For an increasing number of organisations, low code development has become the software development tool of choice. And that’s great – it offers a range of benefits that help businesses to manage projects faster and cheaper.

Like all technologies, low code performs at its best when it’s in the right hands. While ‘citizen developers’ can certainly use it to create new apps or software, low code is designed to support professional developers to get things done faster without compromising quality.

What is low-code?

According to IBM, low-code is:

“… a visual approach to software development that enables faster delivery of applications through minimal hand-coding. The graphical user interface and the drag-and-drop features of a low-code platform automates aspects of the development process, eliminating dependencies on traditional computer programming approaches.”

And that’s a great definition. Low-code platforms help developers to build new products quickly and easily. They significantly reduce programming time, because there’s much less need for a developer to sit there and code each part of the software.

Instead, they can build an app or a piece of software in a much more intuitive way with visual, AI-powered, model-driven development resulting in a user-friendly approach to creating software applications.  This reduces development time and cost and allows companies to bring their products to market faster.

Popular enterprise low-code platforms

There are many low-code platform options on the market today. Some of these are operated by big names in the IT sector, including Microsoft, Google, Siemens and Oracle, and others have established a reputation for dedicated low code expertise, such as OutSystems, Zoho Creator, Kissflow and Retool.

The platform that development teams choose to work with will depend on what they want to achieve. Some teams are brand-loyal, so if they are already using Microsoft for other applications, for example, they may be more likely to choose Microsoft Power Apps as their low-code platform.

However, if developers are looking for the best tool to help them achieve their software goals, they will look at a variety of low-code options to see what fits best with their organisation and with the types of software they want to produce.

We looked at a recent Gartner comparison of low-code platforms. The top five platforms, based on developer ratings were:

  1. OutSystems platform
  2. Appian low code platform
  3. Microsoft Power Apps
  4. Salesforce Platinum
  5. Quickbase

Mendix was ranked 6th.

OutSystems scores highly for scalability, integration, customisation and ease of deployment, administration and maintenance. ISB Global Smart Solutions is proud to be an OutSystems partner – and our development team are OutSystems experts. We chose OutSystems as the high-performance low-code platform enables us to develop up to 10x faster, in a truly agile way.

The growth of low-code technology

The idea for low-code has been around for a while – technology leaders always knew that there would be a better way to build new products than to hand-code everything forever. Various forays into the forerunners of low code failed because the technology – including IT security – just wasn’t ready to support the way low-code needed to work.

So it’s only really been in the last 10 years that low code has started to penetrate the market. And now, Gartner forecasts that 65% of application development activity will use low code technology by 2024 – and that many of those will be built by people with limited technical skills. Low-code delivers benefits that include:

  • Faster time to market
  • Lower in-house development team costs
  • Reduced pressure on existing IT resources
  • Wider company involvement in digital development
  • Reliable application outcomes

Does that mean low-code technology will replace traditional software developers? We don’t think so. It’s tempting to think that way, given all the conversations about AI and the way it will influence ‘traditional’ tech roles. But what low code actually brings is the tools developers need to help give them more time to plan, design and test, spending less time on coding, and more on getting exactly the right approach for each product they develop.

Low code vs. traditional software development

As the use of a low-code approach grows, there have been many conversations about whether this spells the end of traditional, hand-coded software development. As we’ve already said, we don’t think so. There will certainly be some projects that benefit from maintaining traditional coding. For example, very complex projects that need detailed customisation may be better suited to a traditional approach – but that often needs a longer lead-time, which must be factored in.

By comparison, low code offers a number of project benefits:

Speed of development – one of the biggest benefits of low code is speed. Apps and other software can be built quickly and easily, helping organisations to connect with their target market rapidly with a good quality product.

Regular Updates & Improvements – apps are constantly under development, with new features being added and others upgraded based on customer feedback. Low code allows for an agile approach to keeping your product not just up to date, but ahead of the game.

Reliability & Stability – using low code helps to reduce the number of bugs or errors in your application. This reduces testing time and gives you confidence in the quality and performance of the end product. And with good quality support from your low code platform and developers, you know that customers are getting the best user experience.

What about Low Code Development vs. No Code Development? 

While we’re comparing low-code to traditional development, let’s also consider ‘no code’ options. There are several no-code platforms on the market, and these are designed specifically for users with no technical skill. For example, these platforms might allow people to build a simple website simply by dragging and dropping elements into a template. 

A no-code option is often good for certain, very simple projects, but as soon as you want to do something differently, or add a new feature, the platform may not support your needs. 

By contrast, low code – particularly when managed by people with good development skills and understanding – gives organisations the opportunity to build high-quality applications that meet their needs without committing the extensive time and cost that traditional development can incur.

Low code for digital transformation projects

Digital transformation is complex, time-consuming and expensive. Yet organisations need to bring their systems and processes up to date to deliver the services, products and experiences that today’s customers expect.

So it’s no surprise that organisations, their CIOs and IT departments are looking for reliable, low-cost, timely ways to deliver that transformation. In many cases, this means a long-term process that involves not just building the customer-facing applications, but organising and improving the organisation’s existing ways of collecting, analysing and reporting data, so that those applications can work at their best.

Customers are demanding. They want the same speed of response, quality of information and accuracy of delivery that they get from the world’s biggest brands – Amazon, for example, is often used as the standard that customers expect. For many organisations, that seems unachievable – but by using techniques like low code, you can develop applications that support your digital transformation, delight your customers and position you for the future.

According to a KPMG/Newgen report from April 2022, “A modern enterprise that’s constantly renovating and delivering great customer experience must revolve around two crucial ingredients of a digital enterprise: context and speed. The ability to efficiently process large-scale content in real-time enables contextual engagements, And, for speed, organizations need a new approach to build and deliver business applications, and that comes with low code.”

Low code can support many elements of a digital transformation project, including:

  • Speeding up development of both internal- and external-facing applications
  • Centralising diverse sources of data
  • Delivering an agile approach to continuous improvement
  • Allowing business leaders to focus on overall business goals rather than siloed developments
  • Engaging stakeholders with rapid development progress

Low-code app building for faster results

One of the areas where low code development has had an immediate impact is app building. The global app market was valued at USD 208.5 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to USD 777.4 billion by 2032, according to a report by Allied Market Research. 

Apps are used by organisations for a wide range of purposes. Not all apps are customer-facing – some are for internal use, to help with transport logistics, for example, or to support remote workers. Apps help to speed up processes, to keep people safe, to record progress, to disseminate information and much more. These internal apps are used across a range of industries, including:

  • Insurance
  • Retail
  • Financial services
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering
  • Professional services

Apps are part of our everyday technology language. An organisation considering developing a new app needs to know that it will be easy to use, deliver a good experience, meet all the necessary requirements, load and work reliably across devices and integrate with existing systems.

Historically, we’ve needed to use traditional development approaches to achieve this. But now, low code options allow organisations to design and build high-quality apps in less time and at a reduced cost. That means you can get your app out to your audience – whether it’s staff, suppliers or customers – faster and with confidence.

If you’re considering building an app for your business, you should consider low-code development. It offers considerable commercial benefits without compromising the quality of the end product.

Low code using OutSystems

We’re a long-term OutSystems partner. The OutSystems low code platform was one of the earliest pioneers of using low code to empower companies to innovate through powerful software. OutSystems is committed to make it as easy as possible to build great software that meets critical business and commercial needs.

What is OutSystems – and why did we choose it?

As a team of expert developers, we wanted to embrace low-code development options without compromising the quality of software we produced for our customers. Some low-code systems don’t have the flexibility or high-performance capabilities that we wanted – OutSystems software has it all.

We have used OutSystems as part of our development approach to our bespoke integrated software solution for the waste management and recycling industry – Waste & Recycling One. Based on our experience of using low code to develop complex software, we now use OutSystems to develop applications and software solutions for customers in other industries, helping them to manage their own digital transformation – or just provide a much-needed app that boosts both credibility and the bottom line.

The blend of our extensive development experience and the innovation of OutSystems means that we can design, develop and deliver credible, quality software quickly and cost-effectively. It’s an excellent alternative to traditional hand coding, and our customers are delighted with the results.

Read more about our happy customers here

Choosing low code development for your business

If you need support to upgrade your digital approach, deliver better customer service or streamline your processes, low code development could be the ideal solution for your organisation. 

Faster, cheaper, easier and more efficient than traditional coding, you can get the results you need within the constraints you have. 

As experienced developers, we know that low code options – particularly using established platforms like OutSystems – is a great way to achieve your goals and get to market faster.

So if you’re interested in joining the low code revolution, why not contact us to see how we can help?

Learn more about ISB Smart Solutions in our Overview Brochure.

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