- Low-code technology can be beneficial to technology businesses, but can be particularly beneficial to businesses who wish to become technology enabled
- Tools often come preconfigured, and opinionated, allowing users to focus on solving their business and user problems rather than wrestling with technology
- Solutions built on low-code and full-code based solutions carry many of the same risks, and users should make sure they understand security, data privacy and supply chain risks
Low-code (no-code) development predominantly enables users to develop solutions visually through drag and drop application components, either from scratch or from an existing template or library.
The low code provider will often offer the seamless integration of front end, back end and database components to enable applications to be created quickly and efficiently. They are popular with non-technical users who understand what they need but are unable to write code to turn their requirements into working functionality.
There are a range of tools available for all sizes of businesses, from small integrations and triggers like Zapier, to Airtable and beyond to large platforms such as Pega.
What can low code do for my business?
Low code development can provide many benefits to organisations over a more traditional code-based development process:
Low-code development can be beneficial for already technology enabled businesses, however, for businesses who do not possess technology functions, the benefits can be far higher.
Low-code solutions allow businesses to create solutions significantly faster than through traditional coding methods. This is a result of utilising pre-built components, templates and interfaces to rapidly build an application.
The business can focus on the high-level design and functionality of the application and does not have to contemplate the technical implementation. This allows them to work more efficiently to meet their business and customer needs.
Quicker time to Market
Because these tools simplify the development process, they can significantly reduce development time and effort. This is especially beneficial if a business produces a solution quickly and revises it frequently, whilst following an MVP approach.
Using pre-built components, they can be easier to maintain and update over time. As components have been proven and refined many times, they can be more suitable for evolving business needs and providing good reliability. New features are introduced regularly by most providers, allowing easy access and integration with your solution.
Collaborative development is generally included within these platforms, which can make it easier for non-technical teams to work together on software projects. When combined with templates and pre-created components, the understanding of a deliverable is simpler to present.
What are the risks?
Although low-code solutions offer several advantages, it should be noted that there are a number of drawbacks, limitations and risks that should be considered. Many of these risks are related to managing your supply chain, and are equally as relevant for “full-code” solutions as well as low code solutions.
Growth & Flexibility
Pre-built components and templates provided may be adequate for simple and typical business operations, however, if bespoke functionality is required, this could prove restrictive with respect to both the core application and possible integration with others. What may start out as a good fit, may not continue to be one as the users outgrow the low code solution.
Security & Data Governance
It is often difficult to assess if a low code solution offers the same level of security as custom-built applications. The business may find themselves relying upon the provider to prove their security posture. This is critical if the application is used to process and store personal and financial information. Often, providers use a ‘shared responsibilities’ model, and the users should fully understand where the vendor’s and users’ responsibilities lie.
Considering scalability from the introduction of a low code solution is key. It’s critical to choose the correct tool or platform and to make sure it will support the load that your usage will require. Typically, this is not a problem, as SaaS providers are well placed to provide scalable solutions, but solutions are not immune to scalability issues being introduced due to poor configuration choices by users.
This risk is also present with ‘full-code’ solutions, and being entirely technology agnostic will typically come with significant overheads. All SaaS solutions will lock a business into a platform and can make switching in the future more challenging or potentially impossible. Picking a mature platform, with an established community of practitioners available, will help reduce the risks surrounding the supplier.
Is it right for me?
Whilst making this decision it is important to understand the benefits versus the risk, but most importantly, your context, specific needs and goals. There are trade-offs between speed of development, the ease and ability to customise, performance, scalability and security. Although the short-term benefits can be appealing it is critical to find a suitable provider that will meet your anticipated future requirements.
More from our Emerging Tech Series:
- Explained: Bug Bounty Testing (Emerging Tech Series: Part 4)
- Explained: Minimum Viable Architecture (Emerging Tech Series: Part 3)
- Explained: Machine Learning Code Generation (Emerging Tech Series: Part 2)
- Cloud Sustainability (Emerging Tech Series: Part 1)