It’s no news that no-code and low-code app development platforms are on the rise. Part of what is fueling the adoption of these platforms is the decentralization of IT. Companies are increasingly seeing the need to move away from a centralized corporate IT group who dictates what solutions the business units are allowed to use.
We are seeing a democratization of IT, where business units are given more freedom, and in many cases more embedded technical staff, to design their own digital business apps. Low-code and no-code platforms are gaining traction in the market as the perfect tools to enable this shift in power.
There are now essentially three tiers of software developers within organizations:
- Professional developers that most often work in central IT — those that would be most comfortable with pro-code platforms;
- Technical power users within business units — those that would find most value in low-code platforms; and
- Citizen developers — these are non-IT employees that want to implement basic digital business apps for needs within their business unit. This group would find most value in a “no-code” platform that rely purely on visual drag-and-drop editing of apps.
As a result, it should be no surprise that the perfect app development platform for a forward-thinking CIO would be one that supports all three of these tiers of software developers. Are there platforms that give technical users the option of switching between different “modes” of app development — no-code, low-code and pro-code? That is the key question on the lips of these CIOs.
What Are No-Code, Low-Code and Pro-Code Platforms?
Before we dive into this phenomenon, here is a quick refresher on what these terms actually mean.
High-productivity application development platforms are allow developers to build, test and deploy apps for smartphones, tablets or desktops. No-Code, Low-Code and Pro-Code are largely distinguished from each other in terms of the skills a developer needs to develop apps, the extent of visual tooling in the developer experience, the ease of building an app, and the level of customizability that the platform allows for.
No-code platforms are app development platforms that use a visual development environment to allow users to create apps, through methods such as drag-and-drop editing of user interfaces and business logic. With no-code, users don’t need prior coding knowledge to create apps.
Low-code platforms require some programming knowledge, while still providing a largely visual development approach to app development. Users of varied development backgrounds can create apps for web or mobile using drag-and-drop components and model-driven logic through a graphical user interface. Low-code platforms allow non-technical users to build apps without having to write code, while they allow professional developers to removes tedious plumbing and infrastructure tasks required in application development.
What Forward-Thinking CIOs Are Interested In
Innovative CIOs are embracing the decentralization and democratization of IT — where IT is changing from a central authority to a support provider, collaborating with business units and guiding them in their digital innovation journey. The trend of decentralization and democratization of IT will keep accelerating as the digital transformation of industries keeps accelerating.
An app development platform that offers users the option of switching between different “modes” of development — No-Code, Low-Code and Pro-Code — would be ideally suited to allow for the most collaborative innovation between business units and IT.
There is currently no company offering an app development platform that truly supports switching between No-Code, Low-Code and Pro-Code modes. Market-leading platform providers such as Mendix, Pega Systems and Salesforce may offer as much as two of the three modes.
Important Product Features
When offering No-Code, Low-Code and Pro-Code modes in an app development platform (or just one or two of these modes), there are some product capabilities that have become increasingly important to include.
Bi-directional APIs: Applications built on the platform have to be able to integrate with external systems. This means pulling data from a 3rd party system, as well as being able to share data in the opposite direction.
Artificial Intelligence: While AI within app development is still an evolving technology, it is increasingly becoming necessary to include it in two ways: Firstly, as AI that learns from the development process and improves the productivity of developers by making intelligent development suggestions, and secondly, as a feature that developers can include in the apps that they build — providing smart inferences and recommendations based on data.
Event Processing: Event-driven analytics and decision-making is increasing in popularity. Software such as Apache Kafka that allows for event-streaming data management must be able to integrate with the platform.
IIoT Integration: Harnessing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is arguably one of the biggest strategic priorities for industrial companies. The platform must be able to integrate with IIoT systems and support real-time streaming IIoT data dashboards.
Multi-Experience: A user should be able to use apps from any device. Furthermore, they should be able to switch between devices (e.g. from their mobile to their desktop or vice versa) without losing their work — they should be able to pick up where they left off, with progress been saved independently of the device.
With the role of central IT changing and the increasing need for collaboration between IT and business units, CIOs that see the bigger picture are becoming interested in app development platforms that offer users the ability to switch between no-code, low-code and pro-code modes. The CIOs that are pushing the envelope of app development innovation will be those whose companies remain ahead of the curve.