A Guide to Low-Code No-Code in Software Development

Low-code and no-code app development are growing in popularity, but why? Learn more about the benefits of low-code and no-code for your business.

There are a number of different types of software and application development out there, including both traditional methods and up-and-coming alternatives - such as low-code and no-code.

Making an entrance onto the software scene in recent years, low-code no-code application development is predicted to have a huge impact on the technology industry and accelerate digital transformation across organisations. Let’s explore low-code no-code development in more detail and how this alternative approach to development will affect businesses in the near future.

What’s in this article?

Summary

  • Low-code and no-code refer to types of development platforms that require minimal coding knowledge and skills.
  • Low-code no-code will make up over 65% of development in the near future.
  • Low-code no-code has many benefits, such as automation capabilities, shorter turnaround times, reduced error and greater accessibility.
  • There are some limitations to low-code no-code, with one of the key challenges being the options for customisation, security risks and scalability.
  • Low-code no-code will play an important role in digital transformation for many businesses, for the modernisation of processes and culture in particular.
  • The intuitive nature of low-code no-code platforms could help more people get involved in app development, helping close the current digital skills gap.
  • Low-code and no-code will not replace traditional software development nor eliminate the demand for skilled coders.

What is low-code development?

Low-code development refers to a type of software development that requires very little coding to build applications - if not any at all. In place of programming languages and code, ‘developers’ can use simple visual interfaces and drag-and-drop features to build apps within a low-code development platform,

What is no-code development?

Similarly, no-code development refers to developing applications using no code or programming at all, adopting no-code platforms instead. This makes it accessible to all types of professionals within an organisation, not just skilled developers.

Low-code vs no-code development

Low-code and no-code development are taking the industry by storm - but what are the key differences between the two?

While sharing the same goal of simplifying app development processes, the main difference between low-code and no-code is that the former requires some coding knowledge and the latter does not require any at all. And although both are excellent approaches to development, low-code platforms provide more flexibility with some coding skills required, while no-code platforms are better-suited for non-developers, which comes with slightly less room for customisation.

The rise of low-code no-code

In recent years, an increasing number of businesses have begun adopting low-code no-code development. According to Gartner, low-code no-code development platforms are estimated to account for over 65% of development by 2024. Similarly, Forrester reveals that the low-code development market will account for $21 billion by 2022.

There are many reasons why this phenomenon is happening, such as catering for limited budgets and working with quicker turnaround times. Let’s explore these reasons in more detail….

How do low-code and no-code tools work?

Traditional app development often relies on skilled coders, which can result in lengthy queues in IT departments for new apps or updates. On the other hand, low-code development platforms (LCDPs) and no-code development platforms (NCDPs) operate on model-driven design, automated code generation, and visual programming principles. This easy-to-use design makes these tools accessible to all staff, regardless of the coding skills, or lack thereof. The steps involved in using low-code and no-code development tools include:

  1. Defining requirements - identify the business needs and desired outcomes of the project.
  2. Design workflows - use visual interfaces to design workflows, combining pre-built components with custom code as needed using low-code tools. No-code tools typically do this step using drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built functionality.
  3. Modelling and configuration - users will configure the applications’ behaviour either through visual tools and code for low-code, or using simple settings in no-code tools.
  4. Integration of components - users connect pre-built components seamlessly, relying on the platform to handle integration complexities. For low-code tools, APIs or external services may be required too.
  5. Testing - users will conduct comprehensive testing, checking the app’s behaviour against defined workflows.
  6. Deployment - users deploy the application with a few clicks, relying on the platform to handle backend complexities, making it accessible for general use.
  7. Iterative improvement - users iteratively improve the application based on real-world usage, making adjustments using the platform's intuitive tools.

Uses for low-code and no-code development platforms

Low-code and no-code development platforms find applications across various industries and use cases due to their ability to accelerate software development, empower non-developers, and streamline workflows. This includes everything from prototyping and proof of concept, to mobile apps and data analytics. Here are some common use cases for low-code and no-code platforms:

  • Rapid Application Development (RAD) - accelerating the development of applications to meet fast-changing business requirements, and reducing the time and effort traditionally required for coding.
  • Prototyping and proof of concept - users can use low-code and no-code platforms to create quick prototype applications to demonstrate feasibility and functionality.
  • Workflow automation - users can automate routine tasks and processes without technical expertise, and with low-code, this can involve iterating systems and data to improve efficiency,
  • Internal tools and dashboards - users can create customised internal tools and dashboards to enhance data visibility and improve decision-making.
  • Customer-facing application - businesses can develop simple, scalable, and customised customer-facing apps without coding knowledge.
  • Mobile app development - users can design basic mobile apps with pre-built templates and features, catering to simple use cases.
  • Data integration and analytics - users can create basic data integrations and visual analytics dashboards without coding or some coding for custom features.

6 Benefits of low-code no-code

Low-code no-code offers a host of benefits for both businesses and developers, including:

1. Quicker turnaround times

without the need to write eye-watering lines of code, businesses can save weeks, if not months of time, and deliver products to customers ahead of the competition. AppMaster reports that low-code platforms can reduce the time it takes to build new apps by up to 90%.

2. Improved productivity

The efficiency of low-code no-code platforms frees up more time for developers to focus on more valuable tasks, and boost productivity and innovation.

3. Automation capabilities

Low-code no-code platforms enable teams to create reliable and efficient workflows, without the need of starting from scratch each time.

4. Accessibility

Low-code no-code platforms can be adopted by non-expert developers, with limited training, which means almost anyone can use them.

5. Lower costs

Without the need for specialised training and the most highly-skilled developers, businesses can save costs and maximise profits.

6. Limited room for error

The drag-and-drop capabilities of low-code no-code platforms leave very little room for error, unlike traditional coding practices.

The limitations of low-code no-code

Although there are many benefits to low-code no-code, like most technology, there are some limitations, including…

  • Limited customisation - no-code platforms will typically provide rigid templates with no options for customisation. Despite low-code platforms offering the capabilities to implement some code and integrate external APIs, customisation will still be very limited and you may encounter integration issues. So, unless your goal is to build a basic app without custom features, low-code no-code may not be a suitable solution for your business.
  • Security risks - no-code and low-code platforms should have their own security and compliance measures in place, however, there is no guarantee that these will be the correct laws for your specific location. Likewise, if the platform experiences any security breaches, this will likely impact the app you’ve created on the platform. Not only could this result in app downtime, but it could have serious financial, legal and reputational consequences.
  • Limited scalability - if your application experiences exponential growth in a short period of time, it will be difficult to scale using low-code platforms.

What role will low-code no-code play in digital transformation?

I was introduced to the low-code development platform, Pega, when I was a trainee consultant at FDM Group in 2020. The company provided a core upskilling course in this tool, and starting out as a coder in university, I found this type of development very refreshing and appealing. Not only did this lead me into a system architect role at client site, but other consultants from business backgrounds also had the opportunity to get involved in application development there. When you have prestigious companies who have successfully adopted the low-code development approach for their projects in recent years, this reflects the popularity and value of low-code no-code development. The fact that anyone can learn how to build a piece of software and foray into software development jobs is great. With the current climate, I think that low-code no-code development will continue to be more prominent and will never disappear.

Faisal Mughal, third year FDM Consultant trained as a PEGA Architect

Recent data from Zippia reveals that 70% of organisations either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are currently working to build one, with a total of $1.5 trillion spent on digital transformation across the globe in 2021 alone. Moreover, this is expected to rise to $6.8 trillion by 2023, however, unfortunately, the success rate of digital transformation is less than 30%. With digital transformation happening at such a rate, these numbers are not surprising and it’s inevitable that businesses will encounter a number of roadblocks and learning curves along the way. But what can businesses do to tackle these challenges?

Low-code no-code provides businesses with the solution to a number of organisational problems, and will play an important role in aiding the success of digital transformation for countless businesses. There are many different elements to digital transformation, with two of the key parts being process and culture. Let’s delve deeper into how low-code no-code will impact both.

Low-code no-code for digital process transformation

Process transformation refers to the modernisation of organisational processes to improve a business’s capability of achieving its core goals. Technology plays a huge role in improving business processes, and the ability to produce high-quality solutions for everyday operations and efficiency will be greatly beneficial for this. Technological solutions can be developed for almost any process, from team management to time-tracking tools.

Improving the speed and efficiency of building this operational software can help remove bottlenecks and make automating laborious and repetitive tasks simple, therefore freeing up valuable time for developers to focus on other more important areas.

Low-code no-code for improving digital transformation culture 

Culture in digital transformation is all about fostering a mutual understanding and adoption of new technology across the organisation. Employees being resistant to change or having difficulty onboarding are two of the main reasons why digital transformation fails.

Whereas, the accessibility of low-code no-code enables more people to get involved and become part of the digitalisation process. In this way, companies can empower their employees through technology and bring together technical and business minds for improved business outcomes.

With low-code no-code being easier to use, it can mean that professionals with a business-oriented mindset can be more involved in development, producing software that better suits business and user needs. The result? Higher employee and customer satisfaction.

Best of all, without the need for highly-trained coders, low-code no-code development can be implemented in technical and non-technical organisations to develop operational processes.          

Could low-code no-code help close the digital skills gap?

It is predicted that over 7 billion people will use smartphones by 2026, which means the application and software development industry is expected to boom. As such, the market demand for app development services will grow five times faster than the industry’s capacity to deliver, therefore adding to the current digital skills gap.

Traditional software development methods require skilled developers with a high degree of knowledge in programming languages and coding skills. However, there is currently a global shortage of software engineers, which is predicted to reach an astounding 85.2 million by 2030. This means the demand for skilled developers will be at an all-time high and companies will be on the lookout for new ways to build software with limited skills.

Low-code no-code platforms enable those with limited or no coding skills to develop applications. In fact, 70% of developers with no programming background learned how to build applications with a low-code platform in just one month or less, and 28%  learned in just two weeks or less.

The ease of use and accessibility of low-code no-code development will encourage more people to upskill themselves and get involved in app development. With this, software jobs are likely to become more appealing and professionals will lean towards jobs where low-code and no-code are used.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that low-code no-code will have an impact on digital transformation for the better, helping businesses improve their digitalisation success and get more employees on board. However, to say low-code no-code is the future of software development is not entirely accurate. There is certainly a place for low-code no-code, since it provides a host of benefits for businesses, however, it is not likely to replace all software development nor eliminate the demand for skilled developers. One of the main reasons for this is its limitations in terms of customisation, security, and scalability. Low-code no-code simply does not offer everything that traditional app and software development can.

If you’re looking for skilled software developers, check out FDM’s technical consultant services and find out more about how our diverse talent pipeline can support the future of your business.

About Academy Services Team

The Academy Services Team creates bespoke learning environments for our customers, tailored to meet a variety of different needs and technology requirements. We work collaboratively with our clients to create customised training environments aligned to their specific needs and culture fit.


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