In today’s highly competitive business world, C-suite leaders have come to understand the advantages of a workforce aligned with business outcomes – as a result, HR has become the most important department. There’s increased emphasis on finding and retaining talent, creating world-class onboarding experiences and empowering employees to focus on work that matters so they can respond quickly to changes and drive positive business outcomes.
Low code development platforms have rapidly became a major strategic investment for organizations. These tools were initially intended for developing basic departmental applications, but they are now playing a major role in achieving complete digital transformation. In fact, low code citizen development platforms have changed the method of interaction between users and organizations as well as between organizations and information.
The low-code development platform has given birth to a new genre of technology warriors – ‘Citizen Developers’. Using drag & drop functionality and visual wizards included in a low code development platform, these citizen developers with almost zero coding knowledge are rapidly building new business apps, workflows and modifying existing business processes to improve efficiency, productivity, and functionality.
What is a Low-Code Development Platform?
According to Forrester, low-code development platforms are defined as:
Products and/or cloud services for application development that employ visual, declarative techniques instead of programming and are available to customers at low- or no-cost in money and training time to begin, with costs rising in the proportion of the business value of the platforms.
The Emergence of Low Code Platforms
James Martin in his book “Application Development Without Programmers” published in 1982 wrote, “The number of programmers available per computer is shrinking so fast that most computers in the future must be put to work at least in part without programmers”. The idea seems to be catching on.
Forrester coined the term “Low Code” in 2014 for classifying development platforms focusing on development simplicity and ease of use. These platforms allow business professionals including those having limited or no coding knowledge to create business application software using a graphical user interface instead of computer programming. In a low-code development platform, you can automatically generate all the components, front-end and back-end code and configuration files complying with standard coding practices.
In a typical low-code development platform you get a comprehensive set of functionality including,
- Visual modeling of business logic and workflows that can be extended with custom code
- Visual definition of data and models integration components
- Drag-and-drop implementation of a modern user interface for multiple devices
- Application change and lifecycle management
In “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms for AD&D Pros – Q4 2017” Report, there is an interesting comparison showing the challenges faced by organizations when building apps using traditional coding methods and the impact of low-code development platforms in addressing these issues.
IT Recruitment/Skill Gaps a Major Challenge
According to a 2016 indeed.com survey, 83% of organizations feel that their business has been hurt by the tech talent shortage, And a Salesforce.com report reveals that four of the top seven pain points that IT leaders face are related to the skills gap. One-third of IT teams struggle to keep skills current.
Modern IT organizations also face a different kind of challenge – the ‘Speed of Change’. Technology is changing faster than the user can learn it. Four out of ten companies, face moderate to major IT skill gaps leading to almost 20% productivity loss resulting in a $1.3 trillion cost to U.S. businesses. These organizations would love a Captain America to come to their rescue. Low-code development platforms just may be the Captain America of the future.
Over the next five years, the IT skills gap is expected to grow further. According to the Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISW) 2017 Report, as many as 1.8 Million IT jobs will remain unfulfilled by the end of 2022. There are two major factors contributing to the widening skill gap,
- The rapid pace of technology change &
- Impact of IT as core function on modern businesses
Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute report “The Digital Talent Gap” states: ‘Many organizations out there face a shortage of skilled IT people and confess that it hampers their competitiveness and performance’
Organizations are tackling IT skill gap challenges in different ways. One of the best places to start is your own employees by deploying a low/no-code development platform and instituting training programs for employees who aren’t professional coders-by-trade so that they can start contributing where appropriate and reduce the burden on traditional IT.
Shortage of tech talent has become a critical factor
- According to The App Association report, in the USA alone, there are almost 223,054 unfilled job openings for software developers but not enough qualified people to fill them.
- A simple search on indeed.com returns 104,748 jobs under the title ‘Software Developer’ and about 234,824 jobs under the title ‘Software Engineer’.
- Every year only 35,329 ‘Computer Science’ and 20,864 ‘Information Technology’ degrees are awarded across the entire USA.
- According to Bloomberg report, demand for software technologists is at full boil. Companies are spending more but they are also investing more in training, internships and considering more candidates with “transferable skills”.
- By 2020 employment opportunities for everyone related to computer technologies will see strong growth of 22%, but specific IT fields will see comparatively higher growth. According to Gartner: Insights from the 2016 Gartner CIO Agenda Report 1 million computer programming jobs in the US are expected to go unfilled by 2020.
There’s no question that a lack of expert tech talent is a leading obstacle for global CIO’s in achieving their objectives.
It’s Time to Play the Low-code Game
According to Forrester Research “Every company is a software company”. The world of technology is changing at breakneck speed. Therefore, there is an increased need for rapid business application development, which is incredibly challenging when you can’t attract the necessary talent.
Your ability to identify, analyze, and respond to changing digital innovation requirements, earlier than your competitors will now determine whether your organization will sink or swim.
Low-code can make a dramatic difference. Instead of huge investments to maintain large business applications, low-code development platforms provide a flexible, drag-&-drop approach to develop smaller fragments of big business applications that are updated, managed, and deployed piecemeal to meet a specific business need.
Without large amounts of code to write and maintain, it’s easier than ever before for people with limited or no coding knowledge to readily build functional, innovative applications.
Why Enterprises Switched to Low-Code Platforms?
OutSystems “The State of Application Development | How IT is responding to Digital Disruption and Innovation – 2018” has many insights.
In the survey report, OutSystems asked participants why they decided to use low-code development platforms. The three answers that stood out were 1) accelerating digital innovation and transformation (69%), 2) reducing current IT backlog and increasing responsiveness to the business (55%), and 3) reducing dependency on hard-to-hire technical skills (38%).
Common Myths Related to Low Code Development Platform
Lack of knowledge is the main barrier, and concerns regarding capability, vendor lock-in, security, and scalability cluster close behind.
Low-Code Development Platforms are a viable option
The right low-code development platform empowers you to build versatile business apps. However, in a crowded market (offering lightweight business-user tools, citizen developer tools, specialty mobile application development tools and platforms available for software application development & delivery) with many vendors calling themselves low-code, it can be challenging to identify the right platform.
Here are few things to consider:
- Amazing User Experience: Remember that your users are also consumers who use mobile apps every day. They’re used to a slick user experience, 24×7 access on any device. This should be the #1 thing you look at.
- Security: Any successful platform today is already dealing with security. Still, it’s important to ensure that your platform has the necessary certifications, especially for Cloud deployment. Ensure that apps built by citizen developers are secure throughout the development lifecycle.
- Scalability: Make sure that architecture you will be choosing supports numerous options including vertical/horizontal scalability that can be adjusted to a business specific requirement. Who knows? Someday, a simple in-house business application may emerge as a globally deployed solution supporting millions of users. Again, a viable platform today likely pays close attention to scalability.
- Proven Track Record: The platform has a proven history of developing and delivering solutions.
Rising competition has confirmed that faster iterative delivery of high-quality software is the new game. Now it’s your call … are you going to play the game or watch from the bleachers?
Digital transformation is a huge opportunity – perhaps the greatest of the next three years. Automating your day-to-day business processes should be the first step in your journey. If you haven’t yet invested in a workflow automation platform, consider making it a top priority.
Paper-based processes throttle the growth of an organization. There are simply too many bottlenecks in designing, filling, and storing paper forms. On top of that, when you consider the costs of correcting errors and dealing with misfiled, damaged or lost forms, it’s easy to see how paper-based processes are expensive and inefficient.
frevvo’s cloud-based software offers fully automated dynamic forms and workflows designed to enhance productivity and drive down process costs. Now, it’s easy to get secure access to your documents and data from your mobile phones, and to share, save and process forms and approvals in a timely manner. frevvo unifies access control, user rights, and administrative settings through all devices ensuring complete security. Continue reading “How Dynamic Forms Streamline your Workflow Process”
Forms represent about 83% of all business documents. A typical global enterprise uses an average of 400 complex business forms. If you are using printed forms, then you should know that about 15 to 33% of printed forms are either thrown away due to errors or discarded as they become obsolete after a certain time.
Moreover, a printed form will cost extra due to printing and paper cost, but the average processing cost of a smart form is comparatively cheap. Do you know, about 3% of paper forms are filled incorrectly, 7.5% of filed paper documents are lost in transit, and about 90% of the time spent to manage paper forms involves handling and shuffling them?
Smart dynamic forms; on the other hand, offer a chance to amend or update the form virtually on the go. In fact, integrated dynamic smart forms have the capability to streamline your organizations’ document management or workflow process management capability by reducing overhead costs.
Digital Transformation is the greatest opportunity of the next 3 years. But, to win, you need to understand the urgency, take action and seize the opportunity.
We are clearly in the midst of a [second] wave of technological advances that are markedly different from the 1990s Internet-fueled wave. The stuff of sci-fi movies is here. Computers are winning at Jeopardy, diagnosing diseases and driving cars. Billions of smartphones are in the hands of people worldwide – connected, immensely powerful computers with the capabilities of countless sci-fi films. The majority of people are connected to each other and to the collective knowledge of the world and they’re engaging with you in this digital world in new and interesting ways.
You have to be ready. This digital disruption is both a huge challenge and an enormous opportunity. Disruption is hardly new – it’s been happening for all of human history. The difference now is the speed. What used to take decades now takes years and even months.
medi is a leading and cutting-edge manufacturer of medical aids, sports textiles and fashion products that combine precision effectiveness with maximum comfort.
They have a number of Sales Reps in the field. When a customer required a credit line, the Credit Approval process was completely manual – the customer would submit a paper form, medi had to correct errors and key in data into their ERP system. Similarly, the Contract process was also very manual and inefficient.
“frevvo’s Cloud-based solution is visual and easy to use yet has powerful business features and integration with our ERP.
frevvo has a great combination of simplicity and flexibility.”
–Tim Horkey Chief Financial Officer Service Owner
medi came to know about frevvo through a referral and decided to try workflow automation. Using frevvo’s low-code, visual workflow automation solution, they were able to automate their Credit Approval process in a matter of weeks. It’s already been updated with user feedback and integrated with medi’s Infor VISUAL ERP system.
Building on the success of the Credit Approval process, medi has also automated their Contracts process. Instead of emails & faxes, printing & signing, the workflow is now electronic and collects e-signatures along the way. Ultimately, it generates a binding contractual agreement as a PDF with the needed signatures.
The benefits are enormous. Both workflows are faster, error-free and far more efficient. Integration with INFOR ERP has eliminated duplicate data entry.
UX Matters had this interesting article on mobile form design. At frevvo, we’ve created thousands of forms and workflows for mobile devicesand we’ve learned a lot along the way. One thing is absolutely true:
“As technology continues to go through metamorphoses and our understanding of users’ needs becomes more refined, good mobile form design is constantly evolving.”
– Quoted from above article
Getting your forms to be genuinely usable on mobile devices is hard but can have big benefits. Fortunately, with frevvo, you don’t have to worry too much about this. Let’s take a look at a few things mentioned in the above excellent article: