LCNC adoption amongst business managers will push digital transformation. But it is not a threat to developers
Digital transformation in organizations is at full throttle driven by the need to modernize, innovate and take advantage of new technologies. Yet 70% of transformation initiatives do not meet the desired objectives, according to a telling report by Boston Consulting Group. Among other factors, the report clearly indicated the need for a business-led modular technology and data platform.
This is where the story of Low Code No Code (LCNC) platforms comes in and the reason why this market segment has gained so much prominence in recent times. The digital transformation imperative is making software eat the world and software-driven systems are becoming the critical differentiators to achieve competitive distinction.
According to a 2021 TechRepublic survey, 47% of respondents indicated that their organizations use LCNC platforms, which provide numerous benefits and help with transformation by easing the implementation of key initiatives. Amongst those who do not use LCNC, 20% indicated that they would adopt LCNC within next 12 months.
Nasscom estimates the LCNC global market to be USD13.8 billion in 2021 and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28% between 2021 and 2025. Low code application platforms account for the major part of the market with RPA and process automation being the most popular deployments.
Closer home, the LCNC market in India has been pegged at USD 400 million in 2021 which has been experiencing a 15% growth since 2019 with the largest chunk of revenues, approximately 70%, coming from the global market. The Nasscom report published during the early part of this year says that the Indian market has around 150 players comprising bootstrapped start-ups.
One of the reasons for the rapid adoption for LCNC is the high demand for software developers and the associated challenges of attracting talent, high salaries and managing attrition. IDC predicts that by 2025 there will be a global shortfall of 15% full-time software developers compared to the demand and the shortfall of 1.4 million developers in 2021 will increase to 4 million by 2025. Not surprisingly a top reason for LCNC adoption is to improve developer retention, followed by the need to accelerate development, fulfill staffing requirements and to simplify the development experience.
“By automating 90% of the work needed to develop new applications, workflow and capabilities on M365 and SharePoint, Titan Workspace empowers enterprise to do things within a few months what could have taken a few years. Our platform enhances collaboration, optimizes workflow, enables document sharing and extends the Intranet to guest users—all with a few clicks. Ashish Kamotra, Founder CEO of Titan Workspace
So what exactly is LCNC and why is it becoming so popular?
LNCN platforms are tools designed for people who either do not know how to code or have no time to code. However, these platforms are built on coding languages like PHP, Python, and Java even though end users need not bother about what runs in the background and can simply use visual development environments to drag and drop program components, link them, and watch what occurs. Users have a wizard-style paradigm to build, test, and deploy apps and are enticed to tinker around due to the inherent simplicity.
The fervour around LCNC is evident in a Gartner estimate that pegs by 2024 65% of all applications will be built around LNCN platforms. Pandemic has provided the much-needed push to modernize IT and application development is exploding as businesses seek to provide a seamless customer experience.
“We are looking at facilitating modernization of legacy environment by enabling developers to build new capabilities and reducing the workload by 70% with our platform-based development environment.”
Subrato Bandhu, Regional Vice President, Outsystems
The No-Code Census 2020 report estimates that application development is 4.6x faster, 4.6x more affordable, and 4.8x easier using LCNC platforms. For example, the BPass offering from Titan WorkSpace which is built on Microsoft SharePoint enables business users to configure a workflow and bring it into production within one day cutting down the development cycle from six months.
Speaking about the inherent value proposition of the solution, Ashish Kamotra, Founder CEO of Titan Workspace says, “Titan Workspace reduces the CIOs journey to extract more value from Microsoft 365 and SharePoint. By automating 90% of the work needed to develop new applications, workflow and capabilities, the platform empowers enterprise to do things within a few months what could have taken a few years. Our platform enhances collaboration, optimizes workflow, enables document sharing and extends the Intranet to guest users—all with a few clicks.”
“Sometimes, IT may not prioritize these projects and LCNC empowers business owners to take it up and solve their own challenges. For example, a global oil and gas company has developed an application for fuel reconciliation and it is designed by business users. Another application by an FMCG major was developed by business users to manage product write-offs.” Dinesh Varadharajan, Chief Product Officer at Kissflow
As the benefits of digitalization seep into the layers of organizations, employees are beginning to see the benefits and are keen to leverage digital to further enhance benefits. Many organizations are already reaping the benefits of RPA and it is becoming evident that the RPA can become force multipliers when it is accompanied by process optimization. And this has become one of the drivers for LCNC adoption as process owners want to further RPA benefits by optimizing workflow on LCNC platforms.
One of the value propositions of LCNC is to simplify complex integrations within the enterprise and with third-party applications and this has enabled organizations with legacy systems to embark on the digital journey by designing modern applications. Says Subrato Bandhu, Regional Vice President, Outsystems, a platform that offers out-of-the-box integration capabilities with complex systems, “We are looking at facilitating modernization of legacy environment by enabling developers to build new capabilities and reducing the workload by 70% with our platform-based development environment.”
LCNC for Agile and Responsive Organizations
Ease of use and simplicity inherent in a LCNC platform empowers line of business managers to experiment, iterate and innovate faster. Common applications being built on LCNC platforms include workflow management systems, conversation bots and virtual assistants.
Often process owners use a simple decision-making structure to design automated workflows that can be used across multiple departments in an organization.
This enables to cut down the production time of bringing out new features, capabilities and processes as opposed to the traditional approach of working with the in-IT team or a third-party provider which required a lot of time and resources.
“Sometimes, IT may not prioritize these projects and LCNC empowers business owners take it up to solve their own challenges,” says Dinesh Varadharajan, Chief Product Officer at Kissflow, a Chennai-based LCNC platform with customers across the world.
Dinesh offers interesting insights into unique use cases, “The platform is aimed at three personas – users, process managers and the IT team and we have very many interesting instances of citizen developers wherein process managers have designed and developed interesting applications to solve specific business problems. For example, a global oil and gas company has developed an application for fuel reconciliation in oil tankers and it is designed by business users. Another application by an FMCG major was developed by business users to manage the write-off processes for products. These are unique use case to solve business specific problems and will not be available off the shelf.”
These applications are now being extended to the global counterparts without having to worry about scalability as the Kissflow platform manages it.
Road Ahead: LOB managers actively participate in digitalization
Thanks to LCNC digital transformation will likely get a push from line of business managers as they become active participants in streamlining processes and enhancing customer experience. IDC predicts more of line of business managers will become prolific at developing applications by using LCNC and the share of such developers is slated to grow from 39% in 2021 to 58% in 2025.
But does LCNC pose a threat for developers. This is very unlikely according to the TechRepublic survey which indicates that 63% respondents do not think it will result in few jobs for developers. Low code cannot solve complex business problems which require highly skilled developer expertise, yet LCNC can make the developer’s work easier by automating their jobs as well.
Outsystems’ Subrato insists that high coding will always remain very critical for businesses. “Business applications with complex architectures that connect different data sources to run multiple processes and have a secure design and governance framework form the core of digital organizations.” Savvy IT organizations have understood the benefits of LCNC and are taking the initiative to empower business. IT teams are working with business to identify the ideal platforms, ensure security and governance framework and handholding them in the development process to unleash more digital within the organization.