Low-code applications add speed and agility to organizations amid COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has forced organizations to rethink their entire business models. Low-code application development has given companies a new perspective on logistics and standard operations.

Developers want low-code tools to make their jobs simpler, report finds
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In the last few years, a regular revolution in low-code application development has taken hold. These nimble solutions enable organizations to leverage their existing IT teams and empower employees not necessarily specialized in the mysterious art of coding with the frameworks to quickly create programs and applications. 

In recent weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has only amplified the utilization of low-code solutions, as more companies look to tighten their belts and search for new ways to interact with their customers and teams. We spoke with representatives from various low-code development companies to learn more about the recent en masse adoption and future of these nimble solutions across industries.

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Rethinking standard developmental models amid COVID-19

Interestingly enough, low-code has actually been around for decades. So, why have we only recently seen more widespread adoption of these frameworks? The answer involves a spectrum of moving parts, but technological timing is key.

"All of a sudden, over the last probably five, eight years, the web browser has become this amazingly powerful thing. It has become this way into a whole new world, to the point where now, a lot of organizations are really scrapping the idea of having a traditional app, and they're moving towards having progressive web apps," said Edgar Wharton, a product manager at LANSA.

Add a global pandemic to the equation and suddenly more organizations are beginning to rethink their approach to app development. As a result, companies are now taking a closer look at what it takes to conduct business on increasingly tight budgets. Necessity is after all the mother of invention.

"The crisis has put a bright spotlight on weaknesses that companies have let slide for some time. The pressure is on to not only fix what is broken, but to develop entirely new ways of doing business. And we don't have months or millions of dollars to get it done," said Ken McElrath, CEO of low-code and no-code solutions company, Skuid.

Utilizing existing teams and cost-effective strategies

There's also an overall efficiency factor behind the recent surge in low-code usage. In fact, it's been estimated that low-coding can reduce development time up to 90% in some instances, according to 451 Research (PDF). To boost cost-effectiveness, organizations are also beginning to tap the inherent development potential of their existing workforce, especially IT teams.

"Within the low-code space, you see that a lot of low-code development platforms are geared towards IT professionals. You have lots of enterprises, you have lots of small- and medium-sized businesses that leverage their IT department and their IT teams and their business analysts that are already in existence to actually learn how to utilize low-code development platforms," said Wharton.

Companies are also reassessing traditional workflows surrounding application development. This rethinking of traditional workflows has spawned a revolution in app development and could change the way recruiters approach hiring needs in the years ahead.

"They realize that these people already have the requisite knowledge and understanding of our business model. By providing them the ability to fill certain applications and to build and design these experiences for us, it allows us to continue to grow and to compete with the rest of the world, without us having to pay a JavaScript developer or a front end developer, or a full stack developer, almost $100,000 a year," said Wharton.

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In walks the "solution developers"

Due to the ongoing pandemic, there are now plenty of industries in dire need of applications and portals to communicate with clients and individuals within their own organizations. This spike in demand within the nontraditional tech sectors could modify the low-code landscape moving forward.

"We're going to see a higher rise in not necessarily just the business or the enterprise trying to develop solutions, that it's really going to be about, let's say, the school teacher or the healthcare administrator, or really as I call them, like the solution developer," said Wharton.

There's no telling how long some organizations will need to continue operating remotely and It's the individuals and organizations facing entirely new logistical challenges who may be at the forefront of low-code solutions implementation in the immediate future.

"It's so beneficial for a school district to be able to, within a week's time, put together their own internal portal that their students, their teachers, and so forth, are able to access, to be able to mark attendance, to be able to submit assignments," said Wharton.

The future of low-code development

The coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on communities and economies around the globe. It will be interesting to see what the long-term effects this modern plague and the increased use of low-code applications will have on workflows and engagement strategies moving forward.

"On an individual level, disease forces us to think about our mortality. At a corporate level, we question why we exist, what we have been doing with our time, and how we want to change going forward." McElrath said. "I compare low-code and no-code to learning to ride a bicycle. Once you realize you can move 10 times faster, go much further with less energy, and honestly, feel that speed and the wind in your hair, why would you ever go back?"

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