How can low-code reduce the IT dependency of businesses?
This might sound familiar to you... The project is running late, the new product hasn’t been completed on time. IT and business start blaming each other at the next meeting. IT has failed to deliver on time and have been accused by the business reps that what they have delivered so far is useless.
The chief developer insists that that’s what the business side requested. The developers are only able to work with what they’ve been given, but they didn’t receive any precise specifications and the scope of the project has changed at least seventy times, which even their agile methodology was unable to keep up with. Not to mention that the entire development unit is incredibly overburdened and has three times as many projects as they can handle and when they’re in the final stages of a project, some manager always comes up with a “super urgent” request.
Civvies on the scene - becoming a citizen developer
One of the results of the conflicts of interests and tensions is that the business side starts building databases on its own, conjuring things up in Excel, etc. This soon produces a shadow IT in which IT operations basically have no say at all. Coupled with an inability to validate company policies, thus resulting in great IT security (and GDPR) risks.
According to management textbooks, this is a straightforward situation. The different parties have to be brought together in order to eliminate the conflict of interests and instead establish a community of interests, this can leave to a positive effect on the division of tasks. This suddenly accelerates the development and makes development and business measures agile. It cuts down on dead ends and makes the feedback of the development process faster and more precise. The success will be shared, so it’s in the interest of all of the parties.
So the question is, how do you implement this? Developers most often think in terms of lines of code, while the business considers business processes and business data and wants to see results and is less concerned with how the expected outcome is achieved. Still, the community of interests is an obvious solution. Business is aware of market demand, while IT is familiar with the possible digital implementations. For years, everything has been about establishing this community of interests, from the idea of the agile corporation to DevOps or low-code/no-code development tools.
The citizen developers are coming
It’s a self-evident solution to hand over certain areas of development to business. However, finding a shared platform is an increasingly urgent need. For example, the IDC (International Data Corporation) forecasts that one of the key mid-range trends of corporate IT will be the explosive increase of corporate applications. According to one of their analyses, within a few years, companies will transform into software-controlled “digital innovation factories” and by 2025, nearly two-thirds of businesses will produce a staggering amount of software, deploying code on a daily basis. This will have a major impact on the industry as well. By 2023 more industrial applications will be developed than have developed over the last forty years, IDC anticipates approximately 500 million applications and services.
There is already a shortage of developers, particularly good developers. It’s clear that the IT sector will be unable to supply this demand for software on its own, not even if the IDC’s predictions come true and there will be 150% more developers producing code than today.
In order to ensure that the development capacity isn’t bottlenecked, the corporate sector must be involved in the development. Business users must be provided with tools that are capable of describing business processes, and creating drafts of the expected screens and interfaces, etc. That’s precisely what low-coding platforms are good for, tools that can be used to turn the business analyst into something like a developer without having to write a single line of code. These will be the so-called citizen developers, the civvies on the scene. Yes, civilians who can still speak the language of IT because they’ll have an automatic interpreter (the low-coding platform) that can transform the business logic they imagine, partly into code and partly into a language recognized by IT professionalys.
What is the company set to gain?
1. The developer can focus on what they’re good at. As mentioned above, there is already a shortage of good programmers. In Hungary, the IVSZ (ICT Association of Hungary) regularly sets the shortage of IT specialists to be in the magnitude of tens of thousands, which is confirmed by independent studies, yet within the industry, the global unemployment rate is at an extremely low level. With a good low-coding platform, the people on the business side of the equation can easily put together business applications which the development simply has to polish up to the level of a final product, integrating it into the IT infrastructure.
2. It reduces the risk of shadow IT. As business users can initiate individual developments with tools that are managed by the company and supported by IT operations, it reduces the organization’s exposure to the risk of shadow IT.
3. It increases the company’s agility, reducing the deployment time for business applications. Since developers receive the business logic and the drafts of application screens from the business side, this can radically reduce the lead time of projects, allowing the organization to react more rapidly to market changes. Moreover, this reduces the costs of projects.
4. It brings IT and business back together. This is the most important asset as it establishes a shared platform for both parties to communicate. The business determines the process in a visual IDE (Integrated Development Environment), creating the UI (User Interface) through the low-coding platform. It determines the extent of data required for the application, its formal demands, etc. Based on these requirements, IT adds the final touches with additional development when required, and integrates all of the elements. When the citizen developer gets stuck, the developer is there to help them out.
There is a need for developers, ones that work in the interests of the business, not against it . A community of interests and shared work will help dissolve conflicts which is long-term investment thanks to the improved evaluation of the company and better employer branding.