In the past 20-plus years, organizations have leaned heavily towards buying commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software. Historically such a strategy made sense because barriers to entry and cost of software development have been high. But the advent and proliferation of low-code solutions bring a new reality.

For quite some time it was common practice to get a best-of-breed software solution for every problem. Following extensive buy-before-build strategies, the larger companies turned to the big names in business software to be sure of continuity. Packaged software is designed to appeal to a large audience of users. Although it may be tailored to a user’s taste by setting various preferences, it can never be as individualized as custom-programmed software. It also contains many redundant functionalities, but oftentimes essential features for the consuming organization are suboptimal or lacking. New services are only available in a new generation of the software, which is difficult and costly to implement and lacks business value.

So-called safe choices from established names come with some disadvantages though. Usually, these systems have different codebases, which need to be managed. Many disparate products must be integrated. So, to make sure the data exchange management between applications and business processes was successful, IT started to build APIs and enterprise service buses. Best of breed solutions do not necessarily integrate that well and all of these costs and investments do not drive any business value. This was acceptable at a time when the need for integration was pretty low and suboptimal circumstances such as duplicate data were not problematic. Software solutions were focused on departmental IT instead of organizational automation.

Sustain agility

Organizations now realize that the current standstill of not being able to optimize, change, or replace software solutions promptly must be broken. Otherwise, organizations stand the risk of devastating the value of their current software assets or, ultimately, it imposes a risk on the existence of the organization altogether. There are three reasons why the balance between buying or building software is shifting fundamentally to a preference for building software: 

  1. The first reason building software is gaining momentum is a growing awareness that adequate software is a business prerequisite. In a new era of constant change agility is much better. Organizations cannot afford to take months or weeks to source and integrate solutions and business applications. To better assist the ever-changing processes, optimizing low-code allows a reduction of risk and an increase in the speed of software delivery. 
  2. A second reason for the change is the shortage of development skills and resources. One of the reasons why companies are now seriously considering low-code is that their software backlog is only growing, while persistent shortages of developers further deteriorate the situation. Companies have been looking for offshoring opportunities, but many have shifted away from this strategy. Any application should offer a solution for local, domain-specific market opportunities which are assessed best inhouse in close consultation between IT and the business. 
  3. The third reason for the shift in buying strategies is that low-code platforms have matured considerably and have a proven record in supporting business-critical processes. Some low-code solutions provide modular architectures based on components and reuse, to productize and standardize the constant change and deployment of new functionality. 


Now, with rampant digital disruption, COTS alone is a risky proposition because organizations cannot afford to limit their operational capabilities to whatever the market provides. Replacing COTS with low-code development gives organizations the freedom to create applications that directly drive their business objectives from the start. 

As a consequence, a lot of organizations are reconsidering their vision on software development, because of the capabilities low-code development brings them. Research and advisory firm Gartner expects that by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity in total. Despite their initial skepticism, developers have embraced low-code in 2020 as well. More than 50% of developers will use a low-code product because such platforms optimize team collaboration and speed up software deployment. 

Choose carefully

Ultimately, to better support customer and employee experiences, organizations need to invest in a new sustainable core. Renewing the application portfolio with a low-code platform facilitates a continuous process of improving and introducing new software applications and business strategies that make business practices more agile and flexible. Organizations should be careful about how they implement an enterprise low-code strategy though, because not all platforms can scale and adapt to shifting organizational requirements during the entire expected lifetime. 

Sustainable modernization

An impactful modernization of the core can only be sustainable when a low-code solution combines the power of standardized software with the agility of speedy software development. The current crisis is an opportunity and an apt moment to review current buy-before-build strategies in software. Consider a glance at the Novulo platform. You will be surprised by the productivity levels and the capabilities to handle demanding mission-critical workloads.