Low-Code Development

“Mobile First.” If this phrase isn’t yet part of your organizational vernacular, it will be soon.

According to a report by Outsystems, the demand for app development is at an all time high. In 2018, forty-two percent of organizations will deliver 10 apps or more, twenty-one percent will deliver 25 or more, and ten percent plan to deliver 100 or more.

For half of these organizations, the average time to develop and deliver an app is five months or more. Nearly a third of organizations are unhappy with the speed of application delivery.

These kinds of conflicts can put IT and app developers in a very adversarial position within their business. Further, due to the high cost and long delivery time, many smaller projects are simply dropped as being too costly to implement. Also, due to the scarcity of high-skill developers, this isn’t a problem most organizations can hire their way out of.

If this sounds like your organization, you are not alone. We see it all the time. The good news is that we are undergoing a revolution in app development. If you haven’t yet heard the phrase “Low-Code,” burn it into your memory now. You might become a hero at your next board meeting.

Low-Code Development

 What is Low-Code development? It’s a concept that’s been around for several years, but until recently hasn’t really gained much traction. The idea is that applications can be developed using a visual interface instead of line-by-line programming. That is, you see a white canvas, you drag and drop a text field onto it. Maybe you then add a label. No coding is required to line up these fields – it is a “what you see is what you get” interface.

Sounds good? Well, it is. Low-Code development both speeds up delivery and reduces the threshold of knowledge needed to become a developer. In a Low-Code platform, the only code needed is to tell the application where to go when a button is pressed, or other simple actions like show this or hide that.

Does Low-Code replace app development entirely?

 In short, no it doesn’t. There is a performance penalty to creating an interpreter that can take a visually created application and translate it into binary (apologies for the nerd speak). If milliseconds matter, if you are creating something very graphically intense, if you need advanced customization or customized user interface features then Low-Code platforms aren’t going to work well for you.

Don’t let this discourage you, however. The point of low-code platforms is to drastically lower the cost of app development. Its purpose is to allow you to create apps for items that previously were cost prohibitive. A workflow application can be built in a single day in Microsoft PowerApps. That’s not just marketing speak – it’s real. It’s not uncommon to have development turn around times in days or weeks when using low-code development.

Apps that can manage inventory, apps for site audits, apps for onboarding employees, submitting tickets, data entry of any kind. There are many, many processes that organizations can turn from manual to mobile first digitized processes. Low-Code platforms shine for these types of workflow needs.

So, given the potential of Low-Code platforms, which platform do we like best? We like Microsoft PowerApps.

Microsoft PowerApps

Microsoft jumped into the Low-Code arena back in late 2016 with their solution, Microsoft PowerApps, and they have been adding content and new capabilities consistently for two years. We believe this system has reach a point of maturity that will make it a competitive differentiator between organizations that use it and those that don’t.

First, it’s a Microsoft technology and automatically integrates with Office 365. If your organization uses Microsoft Azure Active Directory, you are already prepared to start developing PowerApps.

Second, PowerApps naturally benefits from the security features inherent in Microsoft Azure technologies. Two-Factor authentication, Intune device policies, everything security related with Microsoft comes along for the ride.

Finally, because it’s a Microsoft tool, anyone who is familiar with Excel workbook formulas will find the interface extremely intuitive and will be able to ramp up extremely quickly. This will allow your organization to create teams of citizen developers.

These citizen developers don’t need to have four years of formal computer science education to be able to create powerful workflow applications. This is as much a part of the revolution as the quick turn-around time.

Read – PowerApps Part 1: Who is a Citizen Developer

Advantages of Low-Code Development

 Finally, I want to circle back to some more industry metrics…

  • Apps that support internal processes and operations are the second leading category, directly behind apps that customers use directly.
  • Organizations using Low-Code development show a 21% margin (55% to 34%) for being happy or somewhat-happy with the speed of app development over organizations who do not use Low-Code.
  • Similarly, 64% of Low-Code organizations state that they can deliver apps in four months or less as opposed to 47% for those not using Low-Code
  • Finally, 32% of organizations report a lack of mobile development skills as a barrier to app development

Low-Code platforms can be a difference maker for your organization. Join the revolution!