Anatomy of Enterprise Low Code

From transforming software development to accelerating the uptake of RPA and AI, the potential benefits for Low Code adoption in the enterprise are profound.

Enterprise organizations from the US Air Force through banks and governments are adopting Low Code to speed their application development efforts.

The USAF is piloting their “Other Airmen” program, enabling non-technical staff to create apps that they need like equipment tracking that don’t need complex development, and the Dept of Veteran Affairs is embracing the approach as part of a general move to more agile working.

Public sector organizations like Greater Manchester are quickly digitizing paper-based workflows like an Early Years app and Low Code is reducing headaches for Healthcare CIOs.

In the Financial sector banks are turning to Low Code to address a growing IT backlog, with Citi directly investing in Genesis, a financial market-specific Low Code provider, as well as using the technology given how strategically important it is.

Digital Transformation, Business Agility and Citizen Developers

Low Code is especially powerful for startups, enabling them to more rapidly bring new digital ventures to market and for lower costs, and it’s the same fundamental benefit for enterprise organizations. CMS writes how it is empowering cash-strapped marketing departments to create Cloud apps ten times faster.

The additional dimension for enterprises is their existing legacy complexity. Low Code tools for startups tend to emphasize the development of a standalone web application, for corporates they focus more on business process management and integration with back-end systems.

Appinventiv offers this informative article providing an overview of the market trends and drivers, such as Gartner estimating that low-code app platforms would account for over 65% of development by 2024 and Forrester forecasting that the low-code market would top $21 billion spendings by 2022.

According to a Mendix survey 70% of the developers with no programming background learned how to build applications with a low-code platform in just one month or less, and 28 percent learned in just two weeks or less and the global low-code development platform market is predicted to generate a revenue of $187.0 billion by 2030.

A key theme is “Citizen Development”, meaning expanding the scope of who can develop code well beyond the core software team. ZDNet asks if ‘Development is Now Everyone’s Job‘, and Jason Bloomberg writes that it finally delivers on the goal of creating a more agile enterprise culture, and also addresses issues such as shadow IT.

Greg Webb eloquently captures the overall benefit – The Democratization of Digital Transformation. He describes how the principle challenge for enterprise organizations seeking to digitally transform is they simply lack the resources required and a backlog of projects builds up. Low Code expands that resource pool and the capacity of projects that can digitized, acting as the ‘connective tissue‘ that enables geographically dispersed teams to work successfully.

To consider the practical implementation challenges CIODive provides this lessons learned case study of how Commscope implemented a Citizen Developer program, CMSwire this helpful pros/cons analysis Siemens offers a TCO analysis.

Cloud and DevOps

The fundamental question for most enterprises will be how Low Code is integrated into their existing software team practices. Will it give rise to another cluster of shadow IT? DevOps.com suggests 5 steps to avoid this. Sean Chou proposes the app store metaphor as a great way to implement the right governance combination of freedom and control.

Writing for InformationAge Mike Kiersey of Boomi says Low Code can ease the strain on burdened development teams, but it’s important that they can integrate with the existing DevOps platforms, requiring SDKs that work with software environments like Java or programming languages such as C#.

HP believes Low Code can reinvent DevOps, where the urge to always be hand coding creates a bottleneck that is the antithesis of why DevOPs exists. DevOps.com believes this paradigm shift can supercharge application development, that it offers an oasis in an age of developer drought. Two thirds of developers have increased their use of Low Code to address the situation that 44% of enterprise dev projects are abandoned because they took too long. In short it is entirely transforming software development.

Another fundamental question is the limits on customization flexibility. Low Code achieves rapid development through a standardized use of components – On Dzone Anna Kopetskaya explores this conundrum, articulating that DDD (Domain Driven Design) principles can be applied to address the situation.

A third fundamental question is the relationship between Low Code and Cloud computing. For example Microsoft offers an integration between their Power Apps Low Code platform and their Azure Cloud hosting services, enabling functions like single click deployment of Low Code apps to Azure.

Another key consideration is security – Pedro Fortuna asks if Low Code = High Risk, highlighting that many tools use Javascript and this presents concerns, and Search identifies potential vulnerabilities where the low-code-built apps must integrate with external databases, applications and cloud services.

RPA and AI

Furthermore with the scope of enterprise transformation another key area of technology synergy is with RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Corporations always want to better digitize manual processes but doing so has typically required a large scale application deployment or development project. RPA has provided tools to achieve this automation through intelligent agents, a first step on the journey towards AI within the enterprise.

GigaOM describes the intersection of Low Code and RPA, and ITPro how Low Code will benefit from the push for automation.

Writing for The New Stack, Jason Bloomberg explores this relationship, highlighting the key issue that RPA bots still require programming and that due to the nature of the technology this results in them being ‘brittle’, breaking when changes are made to the UI’s of the apps they automate. He described how model-driven Low Code can address this.

“With Tricentis’ model-based automation, users simply scan the application’s UIs or APIs to create a business-readable automation model. In other words, it can automatically generate a model from an application’s interfaces.”

Similarly Mendix proposes Low Code is the glue for RPA, describing a number of enterprise case studies explaining how both technical and non-technical users played an active role in implementing and maintaining RPA initiatives, taking the burden off of the IT team.

Continuing on from this OpenAccess describes the leveling of the AI playing field through Low Code, describing how it makes the adoption of AI easier. It can address the AI skills shortage and lowers the barrier to entry. Anupam Chugh suggests the Top 8 Low Code tools for implementing machine learning.

Legacy Modernization

Lastly a critical question for enterprise organizations is the relationship between Low Code development and their existing business systems like ERP, to explore the role Low Code might play in their efforts to modernize their elderly technologies like mainframes.

DevOps.com explores this scenario through a vendor white paper, and Silicon Angle examines the role of Low Code in application portfolio modernization programs through an interview with the VP of Global IT for Colliers International.

SmartIndustry writes that Low Code enables more developers to more easily customize complex ERP apps, particularly in key areas like mobile apps, workflows, data analytics and online communities, and DesignNews captures the core essence of what Low Code is all about – Enabling the organizations non-technical subject experts to leverage that knowledge to fast-track the development of innovative new apps for extending their business models across key areas like IoT.

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