Not even two years ago whenever I mentioned I worked for a no-code company chances were I had to explain what that was, even when talking to IT insiders. Since then a lot has changed, some of the early entrants into the market received huge funding or were acquired and many new players found ways to get their messages out. Now, everyone seems to not only know about no and low code, every company of any size seems to have started a review or proof-of-concept project and everyone seems to have their opinion ready. Especially the last 6 moths the trade press has been covering the sector in increasing details, no-doubt fed by the increased marketing budgets of those companies rich in investor money. Behind the scenes though, the change has been happening for years, driven by changes in technology, society and business expectations.
In this article I’ll highlight a few of the drivers behind the growth of no and low-code platforms. The reasons given here are not an exhaustive list and they may not even be the most important ones for your market, business or you personally, but I think they provide a balanced view of the various aspects that are helping no and low-code take an ever increasing role in software development.
Evolution, not revolution
These technologies that we now are starting to use didn’t just suddenly spring into existence recently, many small and large technology companies have been spending a bunch of time and effort over the last few years creating these excellent platforms that we are now working with, some of these have been in development in one way or another for well over a decade. What we are seeing more recently is that the technologies and the companies are getting more mature.bringing their solutions to more customers. For industry insiders the new capabilities we are seeing are an evolution, not a revolution, these changes didn’t just happen they just happen to be ready for prime-time.
The first driver I’d like to highlight is one that we are all aware of, both in industry and regular news coverage as well as economic growth forecasts: the shortage of skilled workers in any technical skills but specifically information technology seems like a subject that never really goes away.
Especially the lack of experienced resources in all aspects of IT has been an issue for a long time, from data-architects to user experience (UX) designers and every type of programmer in between. This has resulted in an ever ongoing and at times moving into silly territory battle to attract and sometimes to keep the right talent in your team. Salaries and perks have been increasing and risks to project continuity are very real as you never know how long your key resources are going to stay with you.
The real impact is slightly different, because of the structural lack of skilled and experienced resources and the growing salaries in this space we see a lot of new companies and people entering the field. People with limited experience often working for companies with less than stellar quality standards. The result is low-quality software, applications that companies and end-users aren’t happy with, take too long to develop or may never actually get finished. Buggy, insecure, not quite delivering on expectations, completed well after the solution was really needed. All reasons why the average information worker, that every-man white collar worker that depends on this software to meet their productivity targets is frustrated with the “professional” IT team, and they are right to be.
A few weeks ago I was talking to the CEO and CIO of a large corporation about functions that they should be automating, and without hesitation the CEO named an handful of projects, counting them of on his fingers while he did, that where top of mind and needed some form of software help to move forward. He got some support from the CIO when he was doing this, and the most impact-full moment for me came when the CEO highlighted one project that was to inventory some assets, a few billion Euros worth of assets and the CIO said that the project was in the planning for three years from now. This caused more than a little frown on the face of the CEO. Talking just a little bit more revealed that the project was no more than a fairly straightforward conversion from a paper index card administration to a multi-user cloud based solution.
Face it, IT projects take way too long, and by the time the central IT department is ready to address a project request the business has moved on. With increasing globalisation and competition coming not only from your peers but from any focused and coffee-shop headquartered startup in the world, it’s more important than ever to be able to respond to market developments nimbly: how can you as a business keep up-to-date with your ever changing market and customer needs when IT is lagging behind?
The need for the business to move and change faster is nothing new, but what is new is IT being the throttling factor and the availability of no- and low-code tools that enable businesses to equip their knowledge workers to provide for their own information needs.
Over the last few decades as information technology has gotten more and more persuasive it has also gotten exponentially more complex. While everyone uses information technology daily there are very few people that actually understand how it works and even fewer that can make it work.
Also, information is getting more and more personal. How information is consumed, presented and processed is different for every role in the company and even from individual to individual. Combine all this with the ability to do more with technology in everybody’s personal life, keeping their specific needs in mind and you know you have a challenge.
Technology has been getting more complex, so complex that only experts can effectively apply it anymore, but the need for information is bigger and everywhere, it was just a matter of time until something or someone bridged the gap. And that something are the evolved low-code and no-code platforms.
Using low- and no-code tools you give the user of the information, or someone really close to them, the control they need to build their own technology for their own information need, where and when they need it.
So it is no surprise that low-code and no-code platforms are so very much in focus right now, and getting all the attention they deserve.