Low-code platforms are modern, comprehensive and standardized software solutions dedicated to enterprise users, which enable them to build complete business applications without having to deal with code or with minimal amount of coding, using easy-to-use graphical user interfaces, which employ the well-known drag-and-drop method, thus enabling easy and quick automation of quick automation of even the most complex business processes and scenarios. A low-code platform makes for an excellent choice for any company that keeps holding out for an innovative and intuitive solution that offers extensive feature set allowing for quick, efficient and affordable deployment of IT tools for business divisions.
Where did the demand for low-code platforms come from?
Low-code platforms, also referred to as low-to-no-code, low-to-zero-code and listed among Enterprise Low-Code Development Platforms (LCDP) and Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) constitute an innovative and future-proof enterprise software solution. Low-code platforms enable easy, fast and effective development of ready-made enterprise applications. What is more, they do not require any coding skills, while enabling developers to use code wherever it is technically or economically justified. This means that they can be used to their fullest extent by people who have no knowledge or practical programming skills. Modern enterprise low-code platforms combine the functionality of document management systems (DMS), business process management software (BPM), as well as workflow and business process automation (BPA) in a single solution.
The emergence of the no-code concept dates back to the early 1970s; however, it took until last decade to see it grow and develop into the powerhouse they are today. The huge interest in low-code solutions at the beginning of the 21st century results from a simple dependence – the rapid development of modern technologies, which is particularly apparent in the enterprise environment, forced companies to onboard programmers and development teams all the time. With time, the pool of highly-skilled experts dried up, while using their services became too costly to justify. What is more, bespoke solutions written from scratch by specific development teams were often burdened with a large technological debt, while being inflexible and change-resistant – making modifications or adjustments, not to mention comprehensively rebuilding application logic and assumptions often turned out to be too expensive and difficult to carry out. As a result, instead of making companies’ day-to-day operations easier, technology started to hinder their growth, generating additional issues and costs. Many of them have been shelved and deemed deprecated, or the very number of workarounds needed to ensure their smooth operation in circumstances that were very different from the development environments made many companies question the point of using them in the first place.
On the other hand, it turned out that out-of-the-box solutions hardly serve the needs of users and business divisions in the majority of use cases, and as a result they cannot be used to handle the vast majority of dynamically evolving business processes and scenarios. This is often coupled with the increasingly apparent and required links and dependencies between the various processes and flows in the company’s ecosystem, which need to be handled by IT solutions.
This has brought the concept of comprehensive low-code platforms back from the sidelines, as they enable companies to both take advantage of the opportunities offered by modern IT technologies to support their business, while not requiring the recurring cost of hiring and keeping software developers, developing enormous codebases and being dependent on specific development teams. Eventually, users also started paying more attention not only to the speed and effectiveness of deployment of enterprise IT solutions, but also to their scalability, flexibility and ease of change, to ensure proper time to business.
How does a low-code platform work in practice?
Low-code platforms are innovative solutions, based on a visual approach to building business applications, as well as a single, standardized and centralized environment, where they are built, developed, modified and maintained. A low-code platform enables you to build, change and manage business applications using a drag-and-drop method in a graphical user interface, called the Designer – the process of developing applications using low-code or no-code systems is therefore often compared to building something out of bricks or prefabricated components.
From the point of view of larger companies and corporations, one of the key advantages of the low-code technology is the possibility of using code snippets where it is more economically or technologically justified. In the case of more complex tasks, low-code platforms (as opposed to no-code / zero-code tools, which are designed for simple, non-critical scenarios, which are not of key importance for the company and which are rarely changed) allow the developers to use T-SQL queries, and the .NET SDK will allow them to deliver even the most complex application elements.
What is more, despite these capabilities, low-code platforms remain very simple and easy-to-use, and they can be easily, quickly and effectively integrated with other systems already in place and used by the company. They are also characterized by low entry threshold, which is a distinguishing feature of top-of-the-line low-code platforms. When a new employee joins the IT team, their functionality will allow them to quickly get on board with the intricacies of the system and provide the organization with tangible benefits in just two weeks. Low-code platforms are also characterized by a very good end-user adoption, mainly due to standardization (all business applications look similar and operate in the same manner, regardless of whether they concern a cost invoice or absence workflow), as well as intuitiveness, ease-of-use and transparency of the interface and the whole digitized and automated process.
Change management in innovative low-code platforms
Low-code platforms enable companies to not only develop and deploy comprehensive business applications faster and easier than ever before, but also to achieve centralization, consistency and standardization, which significantly facilitates maintenance and development of solutions and change management. The possibility of direct involvement of business end users in the process of their creation allows for the implementation of the so-called Citizen-Assisted Development approach, which is based on synergistic cooperation between application users and IT experts, which in turns enables development of perfectly tailored, highly-functional solutions, while maintaining good IT practices, security procedures and the correct fit of new solutions into the entire IT infrastructure of the organization.
While looking for the best low-code platform that will be able to keep up with the dynamic pace of business growth and effectively support its daily operations, it may be worthwhile to choose a future-proof solution that will allow making the necessary changes and modifications in real time, at every stage of the business application life cycle. One of the best examples of this is the unique and bespoke InstantChange™ technology available on WEBCON BPS – a world-renowned low-code platform. The InstantChange™ technology allows not only to quickly deploy business applications, but also to easily change and customize them with immediate results, which is something that any dynamically growing and developing organization will certainly appreciate in the digital age.
Image Credits: Sergey Zolkin