The Future of IT: Decentralized development

For the story why I choose this topic for the presentation is that I have an investment group, and a company, “Magic Software Enterprises,” came out from our screen results. The guy who recommended the stock said that even though the trade volume is deficient and the market cap is small, I still wanted to recommend this stock because this company’s business provides a low code platform to companies who experience digital transformation. This semester, I was very sensitive to the word digital transformation. I was very excited because I thought the digital transformation was an area that I knew about. However, this term is also new for me. But he also said while I don’t have a background in programming, and I have no idea about the low code, but this word looks new and innovative so that we could buy it! I follow the principle of understanding the company’s business before investing. I searched a lot of materials about it. And I took one look at my dusted Python book and smiled with relief.

What is low-code?

Forrester defines low code as “products and cloud services for application development that employ visual, declarative techniques instead of programming.” From my understanding, a low-code/no-code (LCNC) platform refers to a cloud-based visual integrated development environment allowing people without a technical background to create software solutions quickly. Therefore it would be ok that you only know PowerPoint and Excel.

Application Backlog Problem

Due to the pandemic and digital transformation trend, the business is increasingly looking for more applications to support their business process. At the same time, IT struggles to keep up with the demand due to limited resources and capacity for innovative projects. Research shows that the increasing demand for applicants’ development will be five times faster than IT capacity. 82% of organizations can’t attract and retain the quality and quantity of software engineers they need to feed the business with innovative technology. 72% of respondents don’t believe they will scale their effort to keep up with business demands in the coming year. More than 1 in 5 organizations say they’ve got 50 or more significant application development requests in their application backlog. Companies face the problem of the shortage of developers. The latest labor statistics in the United States have aroused great concern about the talent shortage. If the lack of software developers in the United States continues to grow at the same rate, the United States is at risk of unrealized production of $162 billion. Low code might be the solution even though without new talents, business development and digital transformation could be possible.

The Evolution of Low Code

The beginning of the 2000s was the time of extensive business automation. LOB was the result of automation. LOB(Line of Business Applications) describes applications developed to raise the efficiency of the business. The high demand for LOB applications has created a market for so-called rapid application development tools, which ultimately focus on improving the efficiency of LOB development. Microsoft Access, Oracle Forms, FoxPro, and, of course, Borland Delphi(the trendsetter at the time) all got into the RAD industry. By the end of the first decade of 2000, many LOB systems had been developed on the RAD platform. But RAD missed the web era. Without the features like scalability and availability, RAD didn’t adapt to the new reality. RAD became an offensive word of “not ease of use” or outdated staff without future.
Two factors are contributing to the rise of the low code platform. One is the machine! The machine has come to set them free. By combining with machine learning, they study how developers create and evolve their apps, and they learn what they make in their apps again and again. The other one is cloud computing. Cloud computing helped accelerate the recent low-code explosion because it enabled businesses to use cheaper technologies to deploy their low-code solutions quickly.

Citizen Developer

We all know a massive gap between the people who build or customize enterprise software and those who use it to run projects and processes. This is a long process of submitting a request to the information technology (IT) queue, waiting for development, and going through multiple rounds of change before getting up and running. If you look at the typical application development process, you will see that there are many people involved, and they are all highly specialized roles. Typically, business analysts create functional requirements, and technical analysts translate those requirements into technical specifications. Then database administrators create databases and design database schemas, and UX/UI developers develop wireframes and designs. And many developers write applications that tie all the pieces together. Then there are testers to test the application, operations managers to deploy the application, and a project manager to oversee all moving parts.

Typical app development process

What if the people who are discussing the requirements with the business can build them? Both business users and IT people are working on the same projects using the same tools and the same data, which allows all departments in the company to work on the same solution—there come citizen developers. Who are citizen developers? According to Outsystems, A citizen developer is a non-professional developer who builds applications for other people. Although they do not report directly to IT, they use tools such as low-code platforms that are sanctioned by IT. Citizen developers are closer to the business and require fewer technical skills. These models provide a common visual language that citizen developers can easily understand to drag and drop to build their workflows without worrying about programming and coding. The workflow process diagram below shows that low code development helps shorten the time to create the application and deliver the right applications that the business needs.

Low code

Low code is the future of application development

Gartner predicts that low code will account for 65 percent of all app development by 2024, while a Forrester report shows that the industry is expected to grow to $21.2 billion by 2022. The number of executives who rank “low code/no-code development platforms” as the most valuable investment has more than doubled, from 10% to 26%, according to KPMG research, since the emergence of coronavirus 2019. KPMG reviewed more than 150 cases of low code being used in different companies, and the results were startling. A global life sciences company reduced cycle times by 50 percent and first notification rates by 80 percent, while a reinsurance company claimed 100 percent compliance and transparency and 80 percent error reduction. Low code provides one of the fastest and most agile environments for companies looking to build and innovate new and existing applications when all the businesses are going through the digital transformation. But from my perspective, low code is not going to replace programming completely. The more programmable a low-code platform is, the more complex it must be, and the more our low-code developers will have to understand the underlying concepts that are being abstractly removed. Developers will focus on more complex and innovative projects.

Low code Use Case

Below is the video about how to use low code to build a mobile app. Maybe the first app I would to build is the eagle app for class registration.

References:

https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/26/n8n-raises-12m-for-its-fair-code-approach-to-low-code-workflow-automation/

https://www.programmersought.com/article/28687399939/

https://www.outsystems.com/blog/posts/the-evolution-of-low-code_welcome-to-the-machine/

https://dzone.com/articles/rad-platforms-20-years-of-evolution

https://www.nintex.com/blog/the-rise-of-the-citizen-developer/

3 comments

  1. therealerindee · ·

    Great follow up to the presentation! I was always under the impression that low code was super helpful for companies that were just getting started and had maybe one software engineer or were outsourcing much of the back end coding to get the idea off the ground. However, that seems to be a very small percentage of the cases. I had no idea that much bigger companies are utilizing low code to implement one-off processes that don’t necessarily need to be looked at by a software engineer but really is more of a project management situation. Your discussion and videos of how low code works now has me shifting my mind set of what the best application is. Seems to me that this is much more useful for an established company that just wants to automate or streamline a few things without taking up too much of anyone’s time. That’s pretty cool, and I’m very interested to see where this goes as the ML just continues to get better.

  2. Great post and a nice follow up to your presentation. Thanks for teaching us so much about low code, I had not heard about it prior to your presentation. What is really interesting to me is how this can the shortage of software engineers. I really hope that the US takes steps to address this issue but it is nice to see that low code is filling in some of the gaps.
    One great use that low code has is customizing apps to specific companies. I know that Salesforce does a great job of this, each company can have a slightly different “app” all on the same platform.

  3. courtneymba · ·

    Interesting post! We’ve struggled with hiring developers to such an extent that we’re pushing more work flows into Salesforce. We have one particular Salesforce admin who can outperform an entire team of developers based on how close she is to the business and how powerful the low code tools are. It’s interesting but not too surprising that other large companies have the same problems and are also looking to low code for solutions.

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