The Real Benefits of Low Code Aren't What You Think They Are
Low-code platforms have come to the fore over the past few years as an enabler for business users to get more involved in digital transformations, helping them bring their ideas for process improvements to life.
North America is leading the way in its embrace of low-code (or no-code) platforms. Research by Vanson Bourne shows up to three-quarters of U.S. employers now encourage 'non-IT employees' to pursue digital projects through the use of low-code or no-code platforms, with the marketing department leading the way.
But this survey, like a lot of research in the low-code space, takes a somewhat narrow view of the benefits of using low-code platforms.
Low-Code Isn't Just About Coding
Low-code’s benefits are often framed around lowering knowledge barriers for software development, such that people that do not come from a coding background can assemble their own apps, online forms or other such digital tools.
This narrative is in some ways an easy sell in the current market, where coding skills are at a premium and organizations are looking for innovative ways to boost coding resources. One way of doing that is to get tools to do more of the heavy lifting, meaning less experienced people can still produce good quality outputs.
For software teams under recruitment pressure, the idea that low-code technology could vastly increase the size of the available talent pool is undeniably attractive. But it’s only scratches the surface of what low-code tools will actually deliver.
Low-code is less about coding itself than it is about inclusivity, empowerment and satisfaction. And the quicker businesses understand this as the lens through which they should approach low-code adoption, the faster the potential of this technology will be realized.
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Inclusivity + Empowerment = Satisfaction
Ease-of-use of low-code platforms lends them to inclusivity. They are designed to be user-friendly, intuitive, and to be learned and put into practice quickly.
The ability to build shouldn't be in the hands of absolutely everybody. But the awareness of what low-code tools can do should be. And that is the kind of inclusivity that businesses need to work towards and strive for.
When low-code platform users are aware of what the low-code platform is capable of, they can use that knowledge to identify realistic, addressable challenges from their own domains to then conceptualize solutions for.
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Low-code should also be empowering for people across the business. It gives people a voice, and an opportunity to say, “I've seen this tool. I understand my problem or my process really well. Therefore I think we can do better, and improve this process.”
People at the frontline need to be empowered to start these kinds of discussions. Where low-code tools assist is that discussions tend to flow more freely when all parties know that the outcome isn’t going to be bogged down in lengthy and costly custom development and coding.
Internal domain and subject matter experts are likely to feel more free to ideate and make suggestions when they know these ideas can be flipped into a digital form quickly. Likewise, tech teams can focus more on servicing the business when they know that ideas can be turned into minimum viable products without a huge effort. All parts of the business emerge more empowered from these kinds of engagements.
That, in turn, should lead to improved satisfaction outcomes. Ask any software developer and they’ll tell you how satisfying it is to build something, commit it to production, and see it manifest as a live new product or service that benefits users. That effect is multiplied for someone who isn’t as technically minded or skilled — and this is where a lot of the magic of low-code comes from.
For someone without a technical background, to build and publish an online form or to see a workflow doing something that it didn't do a week ago is massively rewarding. I've seen first-hand the kick that people get out of suggesting and then having a key role in building something new and managing it through to go-live.
It also encourages growth in individuals as well as in the collective workforce, because they can see the ‘art of the possible’ and how it can be productized. The reward-recognition of being in an organization that has embraced low-code tools helps keep things interesting for employees, and engages and challenges them to think about the direct role and influence they can have on improving the workplace for everyone.
Just what is possible in this regard? Research from earlier this year shows that use of low-code platforms in organizations drove “an 83% positive impact on work satisfaction and workload by users, and an 80% positive impact on morale.” Even if those figures are considered more optimistically buoyant than they are conservative, achieving even half of those scores would represent a major improvement for any business and its workforce.
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About the Author
Chris Ellis, director of pre-sales at Nintex, gained invaluable experience in SharePoint, Office 365 and the Nintex Platform as a pre-sales solution specialist within the partner network. Hailing from Aberdeen in Scotland, his work with the Nintex Platform exposed him to the full lifecycle from analysis and requirement gathering to delivery, support and training, contributing across a spectrum of projects in various industries and in some interesting places.