Modern businesses are increasingly reliant on software to help bolster operations. Whether it’s programmed to help put together presentations for pitching, or even critical financial software for accounting purposes, software is an integral part of the way businesses work.
However, software, like businesses themselves, are in a constant state of advancement and evolution. Software continues to increase its own capabilities and the productivity of people who use them correctly. One recent development in the software industry is the debut of low code development platforms. Here are the basics so you can decide whether this is something you want to try for your business.
What Are Low Code Development Platforms?
Traditional programming is a “mid” or “low” level in how directly it accesses the processing power of computers. Mid-level languages like C++ or Python are typically used to create much of the high-end consumer and B2B software we see today, while low-level languages like Assembly provide sophisticated, direct access to the hardware itself.
Low code development platforms exist on the opposite end of this spectrum. Rather than requiring years of expertise and fluency in a programming language, or “code,” these systems use a graphical user interface (GUI) to allow people to program software and apps. This means that rather than have to program, from the ground up, code that takes information from financial data and sends it to a network, an icon or another symbol can already have this functionality built-in, and that icon can be added to series of other icons to create specific functions or conditions.
In other words, no computing science degree is required for low code development platforms. Anyone with basic computer literacy and familiarity with certain types of software, like reporting, can quickly get up to speed with these systems.
How It Works
Low code development platforms take al the “plumbing” infrastructure that’s already been done by programmers and packages this functionality into discrete units that people who take the time to learn the system can easily arrange.
So, as a rough example, if someone wanted to create an app for a phone that could handle customer transactions, centralize that financial data, and automatically notify managers, supervisors, financial staff or other relevant personnel of transactions, all that needs to be done is pick the appropriate icons on the GUI, arrange them in the desired order, and ensure they are linked, then test to see what the results are.
Where It’s Used
Low code development platforms can be used for a variety of different applications, though the speed and ease of use mean they excel at “quick fix” solutions where an application is required in a short amount of time. Because it’s an accessible system, it also means that many more people can participate in the design and creation of the system. Some good areas where these systems prove their worth include:
If you need apps “on the ground” that either your customers or your customer representatives can use with customers, low code development platforms are a good choice. Special events such as conventions and conferences, for example, can be buttressed with special apps that utilize the terms and conditions offered by that event.
Apps can be used to create specific tools that help managers and employers to work faster. Expense payment software can be quickly put together to allow traveling employees to create expense reports on the fly, complete with photos of receipts, eliminating the downtime they’d experience upon return having to file an expense report item by item from a list of collected receipts.
In some cases, certain business operations may still be operating on older software, or have not even made the jump to a digital platform. Apps and software created on low code development platforms can allow for the migration of these older functions onto a newer, more flexible, easier to use the platform, leaving behind less convenient mechanisms in favor of faster, more centralized and accessible solutions.
Low code development platforms are on the cutting edge, and always evolving to include new functionality. So if you’re looking for apps that take advantage of new metrics in social media, or even technologies that are still on the horizon and finding their footings, such as blockchain, or the Internet of Things, you can start experimenting with low risk and low cost on these platforms. It’s a cost-effective way to experiment with future trends and technologies and not get left behind.
Finding The Right People
While the GUI of low code development platforms is much easier to use than traditional software programming, it still takes some learning to get comfortable. Any company with an internal IT department will get the extra benefit of having tech-savvy staff that can ensure the systems are properly used.
However, the most productive users for low code development platforms will be the staff that will use the software itself. Apps are only useful if they do what the people receiving them need them to do. So it’s important to find people within the teams that will receive the app to plan what kind of functionality and, if possible, create the apps themselves.
Iterate & Deploy Quickly
Agility is one of the biggest advantages of using low code development platforms. The easy GUI and inter-linked systems make it very easy to conceptualize new functions or realize on the field, and additional functionality is required, and add it to the existing app.
With this kind of speed, prototype and iterating occur very quickly. A working app can often have new functionality added with a day—if not hours—of concept. As long as the teams that use the app are involved, this kind of rapid deployment and effective use is typical of the development cycle.
While there is still a time and a place for working with experienced programmers and software developers, in some instances, especially when time is of the essence, apps developed on low-cost development platforms may be the more practical, cost-effective solution.