The rising popularity of Low-Code App Development

The rapid growth and evolution of Low-code / No-code platforms has been phenomenal. But, what are Low-code platform solutions all about and does it make the typical programmer redundant? Let’s briefly explore this…

What are Low-Code Software Platforms?

For years there were two main strategic options for organisations to deploy business software application – hiring software experts to build in-house solutions, or purchase an off-the-shelve business solution. The former delivered a tailored approach to meet up an organisation’s business requirements, whereas the latter was more about changing a business to adopt an off-the-shelve solution, unless one still opted to customise parts of such solution. Whatever the strategy adopted, deploying such solutions are costly and time consuming.

The introduction of the Low-Code Software Platform changed, to an extent, this scenario. But what are these all about?

These are software solutions that enable a user to build and deploy software applications, with no or minimal coding and hence, through enhanced and amplified drag and drop features, a non-technical user with a flair for IT or, as some define, as a ‘citizen developer’, can effectively deploy software applications. Low-Code Solutions are bringing people without software engineering backgrounds closer to technology.

Such solutions have stripped away the complications of software development and the need to learn elaborated computer language syntax. This has brought along endless possibilities, as a user does not need deep software engineering expertise to deploy software applications. Clearly such solutions also contribute to have teams deploying solutions faster and to an extent lessen the hiring challenges to have large numbers of highly specialised developers. 

Such solutions also bring along a lower entry barrier into software development in view of the lower upfront investments required to setup and train your workforce.  As a result, this is contributing in increasing interests in various organisations to have their teams trained and have this knowledge harvested in-house.

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Are Low-Code Platforms a panacea for deploying Software Business Applications?

Whilst undoubtedly, Low Code Platform have brought along many advantages, some of which are briefly mentioned above and, of which, their market are expected to keep growing strongly, they do come along with considerations. By making it easier in deploying business applications, flexibility might need to be traded off. 

So if an organisation requires the need to deploy a simple business applications, opting for the Low-Code approach is the way to go. If along the way, the business starts demanding more complex functionalities, then going the more traditional software implementation route will be more viable.

So when should an organisation embrace a Low-Code solution?

If your business have specific requirements which are relatively non-complex and straight forward then a Low-Code platform is certainly of interest. A quick internet search, one can find various use cases for a Low-Code proposition. Clearly among the most prominent solutions sought to be addressed by a Low-Code platform include the deployment of mobile apps and web portals.  Automating workflows across an organisation is another example of a Low-Code Solution use case, many times referred to as Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

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Some practical examples for a potential use of a Low-Code Platform:

  • An order taking app for your Sales team;

  • A helpdesk portal or mobile app, that allow users to raise tickets and route these to appropriate teams;

  • A Customer Self-Service portal, which enable customer self-service functionalities in visualising their own account statements and interact easier with your finance team;

  • New employee On-boarding automation - creation of the required login credentials, automatically forwarding documents to new employees

  • A Travel and Expense app, that enable employees to forward related expenses for approval and processing

    And this list goes on and on…

Challenges with Low-Code Platforms

By having the ‘citizen developer’ deploying business applications across your organisation, creates management challenges. Should a user deploy a solution, which ends up having technical problems, even worse, when such problems are rather intermittent, then such issues will still end up on the IT team desk. This might defeat the whole scope of why someone opted to go the Low-code route. And with the various Low-Code Platforms available in the market, the IT teams will have an even bigger headaches if the Platform technology to use is not centrally controlled. 

As mentioned already, a number of these platform are less flexible and restrictive in meeting up a demanding use cases. For example, some Low Code platforms are restrictive on the User Interface and the look Look and Feel possibilities. 

Summary

It is expected that Low-Code Platform use is expected to continue proliferate and enable more possibilities to organisations. And as we progress, it is likely that we will see even more possibilities of what can be done with a Low-Code Platform. 

However, as it stands today, such Platforms will not remove the need of the more traditional ways of software development. One stands to reason that in a general sense, the best model is a hybrid model whereby large complex solutions are either developed by experts or purchased, and, then, have Low-Code platforms addressing specific business needs ultimately, complimenting the larger business application.

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Contact us

Michel Ganado

Michel Ganado

Digital Services Leader, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 7091

Etienne Falzon

Etienne Falzon

Senior Manager, Advisory, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 7973 6377

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