No code opens new doors
We often hear the word “revolution” in conversations about low-code and no-code development platforms, and that’s not just good marketing. LCDPs and NCDPs have the potential to impact business as dramatically as the invention of movable type changed the world of printing: work that was once done only by hand — in an act of painstaking labor by a skilled few — was made simpler, faster, and more widely accessible.
The long-term impact of movable type on human history is difficult to overstate. By bringing consistency and speed to the book-making process, the movable-type printing press fueled an explosion of science and culture across Europe, democratized access to information, and gave visibility and a literary platform to people whose voices had never before been heard.
(Note: Movable type was first introduced in China in the 11th century and was known to be used by other cultures as well. However, Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the first movable type printing press in Germany during the 15th century.)
Low-code and no-code tools share this potential for disruption. While we cannot yet see all the long-term implications of LCDPs and NCDPs for business, we do have a sense of the velocity of this trend. Already, 41% of business solutions are being provided by those outside the conventional IT team, and Gartner projects that “by 2023, the number of active citizen developers at large enterprises will be at least four times the number of professional developers.”
|21.2B||Total spending on low-code development platforms by 2022|
|40%||Projected annual growth rate of LCPD market this year|
Low-code and no-code development platforms deserve all the attention they get because they open a kind of portal between our present problems and what might have been solutions far off in the future. These portals collapse the time between identifying a problem and its resolution by inviting more people — and a greater diversity of talent — the work of optimizing business processes. We believe that low-code and no-code tools have brought us to another turning point in the history of technology.
A long awaited arrival
Low-code and no-code platforms are the heirs to a long tradition of technological democratization. We only have to look back 40 years to see that they are the direct descendants of the original no-code software: Microsoft Excel.
Excel was released in 1985 (Mac) and 1987 (Windows), and it’s clear in hindsight just how visionary this solution was for the business world. In an Excel commercial from 1992, a visibly distressed employee anxiously waits for his colleague to prepare a presentation in the final minutes before a make-or-break meeting with his boss.
As he begins to consider a range of excuses for why his data isn’t ready for presentation, his colleague tells him to relax: “I’m about to perform a miracle,” he says, opening a clunky briefcase-laptop in an elevator.
The colleague goes on to demonstrate, to the disbelief of the employee and amazement of the other passengers, some of the features we all now take for granted: autofill, drag and drop, data manipulation, one-click formatting, etc. The point Microsoft makes in this early ad is as relevant today as it was then: No-code tools can automate and simplify work that was once time consuming and onerous. Work can now be done faster, more accurately, and by people with a broader range of skills and experience.
Excel equalized access to data analysis for hundreds of millions of people; the low-code and no-code tools of today promise to do the same for business process optimization.
Forces driving low code and no code adoption
The primary driver of the need for low-code and no-code solutions is the accelerated speed of business, or more specifically, today’s lightning fast pace of change. Companies must now contend with both established competitors and startups, both of whom can deploy new products, services, or features more quickly than ever. To stay relevant, companies must be able to react nimbly and respond swiftly.
At the same time, the expansion of wireless connectivity and increased reliance on the internet for practically every aspect of commerce, entertainment, health, and socialization means that businesses must be prepared to connect with their customers wherever and whenever possible. Workflows and processes must be optimized on a regular basis, legacy systems must be integrated with new technologies, and existing structures must be retooled for new purposes.
All of this has to happen fast. That’s a problem for most companies, because of the second factor driving low code and no code adoption: the availability (and expense) of competent software developers.
|918,000||Unfilled IT jobs in US in Q3 2019 (Wall Street Journal)|
|22%||Faster than average growth rate of jobs market for software engineers through 2029 (US BLS)|
In October 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that US employers had almost 1M unfilled IT positions due to a skills shortage. This shortage covers a range of jobs including systems engineers and software architects, both key players when it comes to agile software development.
Demand for talent that can sustain the appetite for new and improved software solutions, workflows, and applications will remain high for the next decade. In the US, the job growth forecast for software developers through 2029 is estimated at 22%, which is considered “faster than average.”
Navigating a perfect storm
The increase in demand for software solutions, coupled with a skills shortage, has created a perfect storm for businesses. Add to this the effects of COVID-19 on the workforce (more distributed teams, hybrid work models) and existing IT bandwidth limitations, and it’s clear why the time for no-code and low-code solutions has arrived.
No-code and low-code tools circumvent the ubiquitous IT bottleneck by inviting additional players into the problem-solving process. The real magic of low-code and no-code platforms is what these new players add to the equation: experience, skills, and knowledge that can only come from being immersed in the workflows themselves. Software engineers can write code, but they don’t have the same insights as these citizen developers. They bring new perspectives to old problems, and that important fact often gets eclipsed by the promise of greater efficiency and cost savings.