Paradox of low code and no code: Free up the time of IT pros, but create new problems

Can the movement towards low-code and no-code software development lighten the workload of IT pros? Absolutely ! But one problem remains: new types of workloads will emerge and consume this freed up time, forcing companies to provide guidance to prevent all these user-created applications from overwhelming the organization.

Certainly, a survey published a few years ago by Mendix suggests that low code and no code do indeed free up professionals’ time.

Two-thirds of developers using low code and no code recognize that low code is their workaround. At least 90% of them report having less than five application requests per month in their backlog. Additionally, the survey suggests that the average company “avoided hiring two IT developers using low-code tools.”

In an era of tight IT budgets, the time has come to embrace low-code and no-code approaches

Too good to be true ? Mendix is ​​a low-code tool provider. He therefore has good reason to highlight these results. This data validates the movement to allow business users to focus on their domains while freeing up IT to worry about more important things. Equally important, they highlight the fact that developers themselves are consumers of low-code and no-code tools.

Experts and industry leaders agree: In an era where IT budgets are tight, technical talent is hard to find and retain, and business users are more eager than ever for additional capabilities, the time came to adopt low code and no code approaches.

“We are seeing enterprises adopting low-code and no-code platforms for multiple reasons, including automating processes, modernizing the application landscape, and decentralizing application development to reduce the backlog of applications within the IT department,” says David McIntire, director at Capgemini.

“While these platforms still require some level of support from the IT department, allowing companies to build simple applications within a standardized platform helps solve the recruitment challenges in software development. ‘apps. »

Business users, on the other hand, “want to focus on developing applications that simplify the business processes they use every day,” he says. “They are looking to automate specific workflows or business processes. They also use low-code, data-driven platforms to improve visibility into business operations through the creation of new reports and analytics. »

What roles will IT professionals have to play in the face of the proliferation of “low code” and “no code”?

One of the most important emerging roles today is to serve as stewards or curators of burgeoning no-code and low-code environments. “These are exciting times,” said Mike Loukides, vice president of emerging technology content at O’Reilly Media.

“It’s great that business users can create software that they can use without having programming skills. But we are still trying to define the appropriate relationships between these developers and the more formal IT processes. Will a sales manager create a better web application to manage the sales team than a bunch of IT developers who rarely talk to salespeople? Probably. But can that same manager deploy the app, verify that it’s secure, and do all the other things we expect IT to do? Probably not. So we have to find a way to make these relationships work.

Low-code and no-code approaches “are most effective when the visual constructs of the platform used by business management align very well with business concepts they are already familiar with,” says Pete Bonney, executive general manager of product engineering, applications and services at Xero. “Otherwise, they will need to develop the skills of a professional developer, such as understanding general concepts such as data structures, algorithms and complexity, i.e. the fundamentals of computer science. »

Low code and no code “consist of reacting to a certain situation by taking a well-understood and reproducible action”

Freed from the need to constantly create and maintain reports and analytics, “IT professionals can focus on maintaining the platforms themselves and integrating the platforms into the larger ecosystem,” notes David McIntire. That doesn’t mean IT people are losing interest in the plethora of applications that business users – or their fellow IT people – are building and using. “The IT staff often becomes the centralized manager of the applications developed,” he recalls. “Professional developers also play a key role in defining the coding standards used by citizen developers and in training new citizen developers.

To successfully take advantage of the lack of or insufficient code, IT professionals must “dedicate time, early in the engagement, to defining the structures and processes that govern the use of the platform,” advises David McIntire. “Defining the training required for business departments, security and data standards, new application delivery processes, and the review process are all key to using low code/no code to balance speed of delivery and suitability of application. »

Low code and no code “consist of reacting to a certain situation by taking a well-understood and reproducible action”, believes Pete Bonney. “It’s a do-it-yourself method that doesn’t usually require professional help. However, for particularly large, complex, or custom workflows, it’s best to hire a professional. For example, if a business has grown rapidly and large volumes of data are causing issues with performance and data timeliness, this is a situation where professional help is usually needed.

Mitigate “the risk of proliferating applications in the environment that are not developed to company standards”

Part of that role is to mitigate “the risk of proliferating applications in the environment that are not developed to company standards,” he continues. “Applications that are implemented without adhering to appropriate development standards risk introducing security or regulatory compliance issues into the environment.

Additionally, CIOs will constantly have to contend with the complexity that can result from a rampant proliferation of low-code and no-code applications. “Allowing individuals to work in disparate business units and geographies increases the risk of developing multiple applications with common or overlapping functionality, which unnecessarily increases the size and complexity of the application landscape,” said David McIntire. .

Ultimately, IT professionals need to stay on the ground when it comes to guiding business departments to meet business and technology standards. “There are tools for creating websites, business intelligence and using a spreadsheet model to work with databases,” notes Mike Loukides.

In line with this, it’s imperative for businesses to assess their specific requirements before choosing BI Software. Ensuring compatibility is essential for successfully implementing and utilizing business intelligence solutions.

“On the one hand, they are radically different tools that often don’t require writing code at all. But the same applies: The user won’t be able to use a website builder tool if they don’t have a good idea of ​​how they want their site to look. This includes design, ease of use, etc. The tool takes care of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but it’s up to the user to make the tough decisions. The same goes for business intelligence: business intelligence tools can go a long way in analyzing data, but the user still needs to know what they want to get out of that data. A tool can’t give you information if you don’t know what you want to know. »