Low-code solutions are making major strides in the market, and the adoption of these solutions are only expected to increase. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code (LCNC) technologies — up from less than 25% in 2020.
But as low-code technology continues to gain popularity, how will the growing adoption affect security and IT? And what can teams do to prepare and build a secure foundation for automation efforts in their organization?
In this low-code webinar recap, we explore the notion of low-code, how digital change is driving the adoption of low-code solutions, what low-code means for IT, and what organizations can do to prepare for citizen development initiatives and low-code adoption.
Below are key highlights and insights from:
- Mark Pinard, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Pipefy
- Kwan Kim, Director of GTM Strategy at Pipefy
What’s driving digital change?
Digital change, or sometimes known as digital transformation, is the use of technology to evolve, improve, and ultimately meet the changing needs of business, culture, and user experiences.
Today, digital change is top of mind for many executives — especially as tech spend and usage is projected to increase in order to drive business growth — but it’s not something new or unexpected.
“Digital change has been coming for years, and the pandemic pressed the fast-forward button to get us where we are today,” says Mark Pinard. “While digital change is nothing new, the methods to manage these changes continue to bring challenges for business leaders.”
Not only has the pandemic highlighted the importance of resilience and change for businesses, it also tested the practicality and ability to adapt to both external and internal events, as well “The speed to which teams can actually move is no longer about just providing a better product or experience to your customer. It’s also about the efficiency and effectiveness of workflows and collaboration,” adds Pinard.
Key business process stats
|Apps used for a single process
|Apps used per day
|Percentage of workers that say IT makes it easier to do their work
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The accelerated need for low-code
As teams continue to adjust to the everchanging future of work, one thing is certain: digital change is here to stay. Needs continue to evolve, teams will continue to adapt, and technology will continue to be a part of our everyday lives.
Hybrid work models and applications are accelerating and with that comes challenges that affect productivity and collaboration. “To solve this, we’ve added more tools and more apps,” says Pinard. Rather than solve the problem, this further amplifies them. Business units request changes to improve efficiency, under-resourced dev and IT teams struggle to support business units, the IT backlog grows, and, in turn, so do frustrations across all teams.
“As organizations, we need to keep pace with these things. But what are we left with? How do we solve this?” asks Pinard. The answer: an up-and-coming category of software known as low-code.
Low-code is a visual approach to software development that optimizes the entire development process and accelerates the delivery of applications. This allows the end user to make changes through applications with little or no support from IT or development. Put another way, low-code helps teams get more from their existing apps, a characteristic known as “stack extensibility.”
“Think about the freedom to create and build processes and workflows,” says Pinard. “Low-code allows the team and the people that are actually using the workflow or application to be able to adjust it, and gone are the days of the long and costly implementation times that deliver applications which are constantly needing to be changed and updated.”
So while low-code, similar to digital chance, is not new, it’s been vaulted to the front line of digital change as a necessity for companies.
How low-code and business process automation work together
The goal of business process automation (BPA) is to enable faster execution, reduce manual effort, and error rates. BPA software or tools help manage the complete lifecycle of a business process automation initiative by providing capabilities to map, execute, and orchestrate people applications and automation technologies needed for all types of business processes to succeed.
“Rapid changes in operating environments have brought a renewed sense of urgency to get things digitized,” says Pinard. “With the combination of BPA tools and low-code implementation, we are starting to see a drastic market shift towards business-driven automation as enterprises are becoming increasingly business-led rather than IT-led.”
What low-code means for IT and the broader enterprise
As we see an increase in “fusion teams” that consist of IT teams and digital transformation departments, citizen developers, business users, and software engineers, there’s a heightened focus on giving teams the right tools to ensure alignment to business outcomes.
“This offers IT the chance to build stronger connections within the company and then influence strategy and purchasing decisions,” adds Pinard. With low-code technology, IT now has the ability to better control problems or risks.”
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Getting started with low-code: A 5-step framework
“When considering adding low-code solutions to your organization, there are typically five steps,” says Kwan Kim.
|Lay the foundation.
|Build your team.
|Plan the roadmap and execution.
|Anticipate challenges and pitfalls.
|Scale low-code solutions across your organization.
Step 1: Lay the foundation.
In order to successfully lay the low-code foundation for your organization, you’ll have to run through a series of smaller steps.
Is low-code a good fit?
“First, you have to understand if a low-solution is a good fit for your company,” says Kim. To determine this, Kim suggests running through the following questions:
- Is there a culture of being agile?
- Is there support that aligns with business goals?
- Are there company initiatives to empower business units with the support of IT?
- Is there a culture of improvement and training?
- Are you forced to choose between legacy systems or is there an appetite to test modern applications
What are your resources, budget, and constraints?
Once you’ve run through these questions, next you’ll have to identify your resources, budget, and constraints. “Most companies today have developer resource constraints,” says Kim. “So with demand increasing from all the business units, IT has been dealing with a growing backlog that makes it harder to support every request coming in from other business units. This can result in many projects not getting prioritized.”
Which areas need to be prioritized?
With resources and constraints identified, next is deciding which areas to prioritize. “An example here is when a company has specific objectives or OKRs, for example. If there are core processes that are more mission critical that need dedicated developer resources, this is where low-code can help augment developer resources and assist other business units with their needs.
What’s the business use case?
Next, build the business case for why you need low-code. “Figure out the area of the business you’re looking to improve and quantify the challenge and the pain that you and your team are having,” says Kim.
For example, if a process relies too much on manual input that results in costly mistakes, quantify the cost of those mistakes and assess the cost of developer resources to custom build versus a low-code solution.
Is there stakeholder approval?
Once you’ve identified your business ROI case and aligned these low-code activities with business goals, the last step in laying the low-code foundation is to get stakeholder buy-in.
“You can rally support to build out a program,” says Kim. “Or, if you want, you could pilot a use case to later scale across the organization if it’s proven successful. This is where partnering with a strategic partner is going to be a huge advantage.”
Step 2: Build your team.
“You should create a tight partnership with IT because IT wants to align with business priorities and this allows IT to be more of a proactive, strategic thought partner rather than a reactive blocker,” says Kim.
And as “fusion teams” and business teams with titles like citizen developers, automation experts, digital operations, and business technologists gain popularity, this strategic partnership will be key to leading low-code initiatives within modern companies.
“Next, you want to identify the stakeholders,” says Kim. In addition to partnering with IT as a strategic partner, you’ll also want to seek partnerships with security operations, subject matter experts, and other business unit individuals that will be the users of these low-code solutions.
With the team and stakeholders identified, build a “proof of concept for a program and just iterate from there,” adds Kim.
Step 3: Plan the roadmap and execution.
“There are three areas here that you need to consider when planning out your roadmap,” says Kim. “First identify which process you’re looking to improve and plan for the nuances of how things will get executed. Then, choose the right platform, and measure success.”
When shopping for platforms, look for something that provides:
Security, governance, and compliance control.
“Tight security governance and compliance so these are table stakes when considering any low code platform so you want to be sure to get ahead of this before it becomes a bottleneck later in the vetting process.”
Speed-to-value and agility.
“Determine how soon you would need to get up and running. Is it going to be one month? Are you expected to get up in the next two quarters or a year from now? You want to make sure when you’re going to migrate to a different system, it’s going to be seamless.”
Integrations and stack extensibility.
“Some low code software is going to require more developer support and customizations than others, so this is a key consideration.”
Scalability and vendor support.
“Can this solution work across other departments? Is this company in a good financial position to provide ongoing support? Do they have great documentation? Do they have a great community? Are there enough solution experts to help out when you’re stuck?”
With the right platform, you can begin working on measuring success. Examples of how to measure low-code success include increases in how fast the request is getting processed, reduction in errors, time to value from using low-code software, and the number of hours saved.
Step 4: Anticipate challenges and pitfalls.
How do you anticipate challenges and pitfalls? “Because low-code is not the silver bullet for every problem, there are three main considerations to anticipate any challenges with a low-code solution:
- Shadow IT. Not following a process or partnering with IT can result in rogue software.
- Security, governance, and compliance. This is critical in the vetting process.
- Increased customization needs. Every platform has limitations and constraints, so be aware of how to adapt to and over them.
Step 5: Scale low-code solutions across your organization.
“Once a low-code software or jobs to be done can be standardized in one department, think about how you can scale this across the organization,” says Kim. “And what does it look like when you can scale a low-code solution throughout the company?”
3 key takeaways on digital change and low-code applications
1. Application development is driving digital transformation.
“IT teams can’t keep up, so they’re handing over the keys to business users in order to provide speed and agility,” says Pinard.
2. Low-code provides a middle ground for IT compliance and business user autonomy.
Low-code automation reduces a reliance on technical resources and creates value for teams to build and manage custom workflows. “Low-code software is that middle ground where IT and business users work together on a solution that allows them to build solutions and processes that they know will work,” says Pinard.
3. Business process automation bridges the gap between strategy and execution.
“Combining BPA and low-code gives the freedom back to the business to refine its processes and operate in a way that best suits their department,” says Pinard.
ICYMI: Low-code webinar series recaps and insights
Unable to attend previous webinars? Don’t miss out on industry-leading conversations and insights. Check out our previous low-code webinar series recaps to keep informed:
Low-Code Webinar Series Recap: Why Low-Code Is Key to Digital Transformation, featuring guest speaker Carlos Cima, Vice President of Technology at SoftBank Group International.
Low-Code Webinar Series Recap: How IBM and Pipefy Navigate the Digital Landscape With Low-Code Solutions, featuring guest speaker Guilherme Novaes, Ecosystem Director at IBM Brasil.
Low-Code Webinar Series Recap: How Accenture Made Low-Code the Backbone of Digital Transformation and Innovation, featuring guest speakers Fabiano Guastella, Digital Innovation Associate Director at Accenture, and Clarison Benteo, Digital Transformation Manager at Accenture.
Low-Code Webinar Series Recap: How Lacoste and Ocean Network Express Used Pipefy to Transform Digital Experiences, featuring guest speakers Vinicius Castro, Operations and Digital Projects Manager at Lacoste, and Sergio Marques, Business Process Senior Analyst at Ocean Network Express.
Low-Code Webinar Series Recap: Dawn of the Low-Code Digital Era, featuring guest speaker John Bratincevic, Senior Analyst at Forrester.
*Some comments and quotes have been edited for clarity.