LEVERAGING LOW-CODE FOR ENTERPRISE TRANSFORMATION

Everything you need to know about low-code software development, how to use it, and choosing the right software for your business.

Low-Code App Development Platform

The low-code market has been growing at over 20% CAGR y-o-y. Forrester suggests that the reason is “institutionalization of low-code,” which is the widespread adoption of low-code platforms and technologies within the software engineering departments. So much so that ​​87% of enterprise developers use low-code in some form or another.

As the industry makes the slow and cautious shift from all-manual development towards adopting low-code, there are significant gains in efficiency, speed, agility, and quality to be realized. Let’s see how.

But first, what is low-code?

WHAT IS LOW-CODE?

Low-code is a software development approach that accelerates product delivery by enabling developers to build custom applications with minimal hand-coding. It creates a level of abstraction for the technical elements such as business logic and databases, presenting them visually in the integrated development environment (IDE).

With a visual interface, pre-built templates, integrations, and more, low-code serves to automate a significant portion of the software development process. While the low-code trend began to address “citizen developers,” i.e, business users without programming expertise, it has evolved to meet the sophisticated needs of professional developers as well.

HOW IS LOW-CODE DIFFERENT FROM NO-CODE?

Low-code and no-code platforms primarily arise from the rapid application development (RAD) school of thought. But they’re different from each other in several ways.

As the name suggests, low-code reduces the need for coding, while no-code eliminates it. But there’s more.

Low-Code App Development Platform

How does low-code development work?

Low-code combines a number of complementary features to create value throughout the software development life-cycle. Here’s how.

Visual approach to software development

Low-code platforms offer a visual interface with drag-and-drop functionalities and model-driven logic to automatically generate code in the background. This enables developers and non-developers alike to build complex applications without writing extensive lines of code.

Reuse of components with prefabs

Low-code development platforms come equipped with a library of pre-built templates and components—also known as prefabs—covering a wide range of common functionalities and user interface (UI) designs.

Low-Code App Development Platform

You can customize or combine prefabs to create sophisticated applications. On many platforms, you can also create and save your own enterprise prefabs for reuse.

Integrations

Low-code tools seamlessly integrate with existing databases, APIs, and external services. This enables developers to enhance their applications with real-time data access, third-party services, and legacy system functionalities.

Whether it’s incorporating customer data from a CRM system, connecting to payment gateways, or integrating with IoT devices, low-code development platforms accelerate the creation of connectors and APIs necessary to create connected solutions.

Life-cycle management

Low-code development goes beyond coding to testing, deployment, scaling, monitoring, and maintenance. It supports agile development practices, including continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD).

With built-in scalability options, applications can grow to meet increasing user demands without compromising performance. Moreover, low-code application management tools offer comprehensive insights into usage and performance to support operations teams as well.

WHO IS LOW-CODE DEVELOPMENT FOR?

If you’re looking to develop software, low-code application development can be for you. Some scenarios that low-code is great are:

You are short of pro devs

Hiring and onboarding can be hard. If you’re short of professional developers, you can enable business users to create low-code solutions for simple, small-scale/ internal apps.

Your pro devs feel underutilized

Coding is a lot of grind work that experienced developers don’t need to waste time on. Low-code allows pro devs to:

  • Quickly drag-and-drop to build apps, automating coding under the hood
  • Retain the control to customize/enhance their apps as they wish
  • Build UI components that can be reused to maintain the brand throughout
  • Use open standards and best practices consistently

You’re an ISV

Independent software vendors (ISVs) need to build at scale, while also rolling out customized products to elite clients. Low-code makes it easier to create composable experiences and deploy them at scale.

WHY DO ORGANIZATIONS NEED LOW-CODE?

Speed, efficiency, quality, cost savings, agility, innovation—you name it, low-code delivers across all software engineering goals.

Development speed

Low-code accelerates development with pre-built templates and UI components. It prevents developers from repeatedly reinventing the wheel. This means:

  • Quicker go-to-market: You can take your apps to your customers much faster than ever before.
  • Better market responsiveness: You can build a competitive advantage by quickly responding to customer demands and market evolution.
  • Greater development velocity: You can do more within short periods of time, experimenting and optimizing your experiences.
Agility

In the agile software development world, low-code adds another layer of capabilities. It enables teams to build fast and be agile. With low-code, senior developers can focus on solving business problems more than writing/debugging code. This means:

  • Shorter iteration cycles: Low-code helps build more applications and iterate on existing features faster.
  • Lesser tech debt: Streamlining the development process reduces errors and poor coding practices. Cloud-native architectures also optimize app modernization initiatives.
  • Baked-in security: Low-code platforms also handle security and compliance aspects out of the box, strengthening enterprise applications
Innovation

Low-code is an extraordinary innovation tool, if only for the fact that it reduces the cost of experiments significantly. If you’d like to test an out-there product that could disrupt the market, you don’t need to spend millions of dollars and half a year to get the MVP out to customers. This is also true for partnerships and collaboration with complimentary products.

Therefore, low-code fosters a culture of innovation and experimentation within the organization, empowering business and tech users to quickly create products/prototypes and test them in the marketplace. It does all this and more while allowing everyone access to the latest technology and practices.

Flexibility

Unlike no-code—which is highly limiting—low-code development platforms allow you the best of both worlds. You can reuse and automate some parts of the process while retaining control over those you want to custom code.

This flexibility allows you to create unique, personalized experiences, differentiated from your competitors.

Collaboration

A low-code development platform also acts as a collaborative space, even though it’s most definitely not a Slack or Email replacement. A low-code development platform allows developers to track revisions, share feedback/comments, expand on user stories, and more. As conversations happen within the platform, it is also contextual and more meaningful.

Governance

One of the biggest challenges in scaling software development is governance. DevOps and security teams often watch disappointed as things fall through the cracks. This can be a security/compliance vulnerability. In cases of an unutilized server, for instance, it can also be an unnecessary expense.

Low-code streamlines governance, minimizes shadow IT, and enables better visibility and control for a sprawling app stack.

Enterprise-grade tech

Low-code is no longer a small fish. Today’s low-code platforms have enterprise-grade capabilities, enabling organizations to undertake large-scale transformation projects with ease. With low-code, this quality of software is upheld even when developed by citizen developers or business users with no experience in coding.

Cost savings

Lastly, low-code is far more cost-effective than traditional development.

  • Composability: The ability to reuse components within the organization eliminates redundancy and wastage.
  • Better resource utilization: It frees up professional developers from grunt work, enabling them to focus on innovative/experimental projects.
  • Opportunity cost: By accelerating development, it prevents potential loss in revenue/opportunity

Low-code is the natural next step in the RAD journey. As markets evolve and customers demand more, enterprises need to respond with digital solutions more quickly. Here are a few use cases you can get started on right away.

WHAT ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES

IN ADOPTING LOW-CODE?

For traditional engineering teams, low-code is a new way of developing software. Naturally, this brings challenges and complexities.

Low-Code App Development Platform
Cultural resistance to change
“Pro” developers have been accused of dismissing low-code for the untalented. This then creates stigma and skepticism about the impact of low-code. Even when there isn’t ill intent, developers often feel threatened by disruptive automation tools.
Low-Code App Development Platform
Teething problems
Before low-code solutions evolved to the robust tools that they are today, they produced low-quality code, while offering terrible developer experiences. This has put off early adopters.
Low-Code App Development Platform
Integrability
Enterprises in transition need their existing (legacy) software and the low-code platform to work in tandem. This requires the low-code development platform to integrate with apps, databases, and external services with bespoke architectures. Without this, low-code doesn’t deliver the value it is capable of. 

Resolving this might involve middleware or custom coding, which is often more effort than its worth.
Low-Code App Development Platform
Scalability
Low-code platforms for citizen developers primarily focus on prototypes or small applications built for internal use. They don’t meet the standards of performance needed for enterprise applications.
Low-Code App Development Platform
Adoption challenges
The interface, language, and experience on a low-code development platform can be vastly different from what developers are currently used to. This learning curve can be off-putting. Without adequate training and ongoing support, developers might also continue to hand-code, making low-code adoption moot.

If it’s not easy or simple to adopt low-code, what should enterprises do?

WHAT DO ENTERPRISES NEED TO

SUCCESSFULLY ADOPT LOW-CODE?

For successful adoption, organizations need to acknowledge that low-code is not a fad you’re trying, but a strategic intervention to your software engineering landscape. With that in mind, here are some ways to improve outcomes.

Build strategic alignment with business prerogatives

Low-code adoption is as much a business initiative as it is a tech initiative. Before you onboard a low-code platform, get buy-ins from business leaders. Outline the business goals that low-code will achieve and set up a direct line of sight from adoption to outcomes.

Focus on change management

Low-code adoption often fails because someone paid for the platform and sent an email asking everyone to use it. Everyone, of course, promptly ignored the email and the tool.

To successfully integrate low-code into your software development landscape, create a change management strategy.

  • Include every stakeholder in communicating the change
  • Identify champions within each team who can encourage the use of the low-code platform
  • Set up events/workshops for early adopters to share their learnings with the rest
  • Highlight early wins and promote internal case studies
  • Collect feedback and continuously improve platform usage
Establish clear governance frameworks

In traditional development, a lot of governance is in the minds of the engineering leaders. As they review and oversee the teams, these practices are enforced. With low-code, this isn’t necessary.

To mitigate risks, set clear governance frameworks for the low-code platform to enforce. Define policies and procedures for security, compliance, data protection, and development standards. Set up monitoring for early warning signs.

Train, train, train

Even the most intuitive platform needs a bit of a push in the beginning. Invest time and resources in training developers on your new low-code platform. This needn’t be a boring presentation. It can be a collaborative workshop. Or a hackathon using only the low-code platform (and no hand-coding). Such activities help developers try their hand at the low-code platform without disrupting regular programming!

Implement in phases

Instead of a big-bang approach, introduce the low-code platform to the teams in phases. Sign up pilot users who will try and offer feedback. Incorporate that feedback and implement it for a larger group, and so on. During this process, create a sense of anticipation among developers by sending regular updates to the larger team. In your communication, tell stories about how the platform is being used and what value it is delivering.

Set yourself up for success

Imagine your future state and ensure that your low-code platform can get you there. For instance, see if the platform is able to create scalable applications that handle the number of users, transactions, and data volumes you anticipate without compromising performance.

Measure and optimize

Low-code adoption isn’t one and done. Continuously measure the impact of your low-code platform against your chosen metrics. If you intended to improve developer productivity by 20%, measure that diligently. Based on your outcomes, continue to optimize.

However, for all this to work, you need the right low-code platform. So, choose carefully.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE
RIGHT LOW-CODE PLATFORM

Choosing the right platform depends on a number of business, technical, cultural, and organizational factors. Here are the pertinent questions to ask while evaluating low-code solutions.

1. Does it suit your business needs?

The right platform must fit like a glove with your strategy. If you’re looking for low-code to modernize your legacy apps, you need an enterprise-grade platform. If you need it to help business users prototype and test features, you need one that’s focused on citizen developers.

So, before you even shortlist options, do a thorough assessment of your organization’s needs including:

  • Types of applications you intend to build
  • Complexity of your workflows
  • Primary users of the new low-code platform
  • Goals you’re looking to achieve
2. What parts of the software development process can it handle?

There are specialized applications for just one part of the process or end-to-end applications that do everything. Choose the one you need. Look for the low-code platform to have the following:

  • UI storyboarding: Visualizing user experience, customer journeys and applying conditional logic
  • Design systems: Brand-specific styles, fonts, colors, etc.
  • Open tech stack: Open standards-based tech stack for updated and secure apps
  • Component-driven development: Out-of-the-box templates and prefabs
  • Experience APIs: API-composability toolkit for web and mobile experiences
  • Collaboration: Branch support for hotfixes, ability to review artifacts, etc.
  • Developer suite: API mocks, 1-click preview, inspection framework, automated mobile testing
  • 1-click deployment: Production deployment with the cloud provider of your choice
  • Cloud-native architecture: Resource-optimized environment with high availability, fault tolerance and portability
  • Integrations: REST APIs, API orchestration and standardized access to org data and services
  • Performance: App sizing, monitoring, optimization, compression and app feedback
  • Responsiveness: Ability to create native apps for iOS and Android with a single codebase
  • Baked in security: Compliant to Veracode, OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities, and authentication and authorization features
Low-Code App Development Platform
3. What is the developer experience suite like?

Your internal users—i.e., developers—need to have a fantastic experience for successful adoption. So, evaluate developer experience for speed, performance, intuitiveness, ease of use, collaboration etc. Look for features that improve developer productivity such as reusable components, templates, app generation wizards, custom coding, etc.

4. Can the code be customized?

A good low-code platform should allow your professional developers the flexibility to modify templates, extend applications with custom code and integrate bespoke functionalities. It should also enable them to add customized code in any IDE and import external libraries seamlessly. This would reassure the developers that they are in control of their output.

5. What is the total cost of ownership?

SaaS-based pricing models can quickly spiral out of control, negating any cost savings you might have anticipated. So, it is important to calculate the total cost of ownership for the next few years, including the initial license or subscription fees and ongoing costs related to deployment, maintenance, and scaling.

Evaluate how the platform’s pricing structure aligns with your expected usage patterns and growth projections, ensuring transparency and predictability of costs.

6. What support options are available?

Independent low-code platform vendors offer some form of support. However, this can depend on the subscription plan you’re on, their ability to support, etc. So, consider the following.

  • What self-serve resources are available?
  • How is the product documentation?
  • Do they offer training?
  • What is the SLA for support ticket resolution?

Also, look for the strength of the user community around the product. With forms and user groups, you might be able to help yourself faster than official channels.

7. How credible is the vendor?

There are dozens of low-code platforms you can subscribe to today. To have reliable, consistent, and powerful low-code capabilities, make sure the software provider is credible.

Go beyond the standard messaging and check if the platform generated code is accessible and readable, the pricing structure is transparent, the security provided is enterprise-grade, and finally, the platform lets you deploy on the infrastructure of your choice.

8. What is the product roadmap?

After having ensured the product is in line with your business needs, you don’t want the rude shock of the software provider making a pivot. Moreover, a software provider with a solid financial foundation and a clear roadmap is more likely to provide long-term support and continuous innovation.

Before you commit, discuss the product roadmap with the vendor. Ensure that it continues to be in alignment with your business prerogatives.

Given the recent excitement around generative AI, explore your vendor’s plans to integrate the tech. Understand their philosophy and approach to gen AI.

ACCELERATE YOUR LOW-CODE
JOURNEY WITH WAVEMAKER

WaveMaker low-code app development platform is a pro dev’s low-code composable experiences application development platform, designed keeping enterprise needs in mind. It is purpose-built for enterprise-grade engineering. It is built from the ground up to empower developers with everything they need to build, test, and deploy exceptional products.

WaveMaker is differentiated by its thoughtful and strategic approach to software engineering, from the developer’s point of view. So, it offers:

  • Open, always-updated tech stack
  • Freedom of custom coding
  • Component-driven development
  • 1-click deployment
  • User-friendly developer productivity suite
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Out-of-the-box security and compliance
  • Modern front-end, backend, mobile and DevOps technologies to power enterprise-grade cloud-native apps
  • Developer studio to build responsive apps

WaveMaker leads and bounds better than traditional development approaches.

WaveMaker has helped dozens of businesses across industries, such as healthcare, pharma, ISVs, energy and petrochemicals, banking, IT services and more. Not-for-profit organizations, and government departments accelerate their digital transformation journey with WaveMaker.

But, don’t take our word for it. Here are some of WaveMaker’s global success stories.

Low-Code App Development Platform

WaveMaker has helped dozens of businesses across industries, such as healthcare, pharma, ISVs, energy and petrochemicals, banking, IT services and more. Not-for-profit organizations, and government departments accelerate their digital transformation journey with WaveMaker.

But, don’t take our word for it. Here are some of WaveMaker’s global success stories.

Discover how WaveMaker can accelerate your journey to low-code. Contact us for a demo or to discuss your specific needs with our expert team.

You can talk to an expert today.