The case for low-code in the post-Covid landscape

The case for low-code in the post-Covid landscape
(Image credit: Future)

The last twelve months have drastically changed everything about how we do business. The most noticeable impact, of course, has been the accelerated process of digitalization as business leaders responded to the changing needs of a socially distanced world. In many cases, the resulting digital transformations have produced some surprising consequences.

About the author

Ritam Gandhi, is the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene.

What may have gone under the radar is the huge spike in company incorporations during this period. New gaps in the market and shifting working patterns have given budding entrepreneurs the inspiration to break out on their own – and they are doing so in droves. Data shows that business incorporations were up 30% in the four weeks to mid-December 2020, compared with the same period the year before. In an increasingly digital marketplace, this means a tremendous amount of IT development will be in demand to power the launch of new web and mobile apps.

Meanwhile, more established enterprises are dealing with pressure to dramatically increase the speed at which they can deliver seamless and engaging digital experiences. Once again, this will mean companies needing to invest heavily in tech development. This may, however, prove problematic. Even before the pandemic, the UK faced a longstanding crunch on digital professionals. For years, the demand for highly skilled developers has far outstripped the supply, and many teams will simply lack the in-house expertise needed to drive effective product development, or else the resources to enlist the help of third parties.

This is why low-code and no-code platforms have risen to the forefront. By providing ready-made core modules and a ‘plug and play’ functionality, these solutions take much of the complexity out of creating digital offerings. These building blocks of pre-written code are here to help businesses adapt to evolving market conditions – whatever their level of tech expertise.

Low-code platforms are the answer

The new generation of low-code and no-code platforms have seen accelerated adoption over the course of the pandemic. These tools have simplified the process of product design and streamlined the journey from ideation to creation, allowing businesses of all sizes and of different IT capabilities to take ownership of their product development process. This internal stake is crucial to understanding the changing attitudes towards low-code: namely, it puts the capacity for technical problem-solving directly into the hands of those running a business.

This isn’t purely a solution for low-overhead SMEs, either. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than half of medium to large enterprises will have adopted low-code platforms. From startups looking to quickly launch their answer to a gap in the market, to large enterprises looking to update their digital platform, businesses at any level should welcome this new facility to create scalable solutions at pace in the hyper-competitive post-Covid economy.

With the dust settling on the pandemic, many companies will look to evaluate their digital response over the past twelve months and begin planning for the long term. Low-code and no-code platforms will surely be at the heart of many of these plans.

So, how do you find the right way to integrate low-code development into your business strategy?

Finding the right fit

For startups and scaleups, the possibilities are limitless. The capacity to integrate commerce, marketing, communications, and brand functions in a single product is game-changing for small business in terms of costings and efficiency.

Indeed, a recent report found that it takes the majority of development teams 3-6 months to deliver an application. In the COVID-19 era, this is a lifetime. For startups in particular, which often lean on small, highly specialized teams and low overheads, long development processes can hinder their competitive advantage. Fortunately, low-code applications provide great utility across almost every sector.

To pick a simple example at random; imagine a small aspiring florist, successful and profitable in their local area but with little recognition beyond. They are now looking to invest in expanding further afield by introducing a delivery service. This poses an issue: choosing between hiring another staff member to help meet the expected rise in demand, or contracting an IT developer to build the system which will facilitate their commerce ambitions. The value and utility of a full adoption of the low-cost low-code option in this case is clear.

Low-code transformation can provide the answer for retailers that are looking for ways to create a convenient ecommerce portal. Meanwhile, any small businesses will see the benefits on offer from being able to create, iterate, and release an application in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional development methods. In today’s competitive and crowded market, a fail fast strategy is also important for small businesses taking the next step. The freedom to tweak or overhaul products overnight, and quickly bring business-critical solutions to market, gives teams the agility needed to adapt on the fly.

A popular strategy, particularly for established enterprises with existing in-house IT developers, is to take a hybrid approach to integration. This could typically look like using low-code for front-end, client- and customer-facing offerings, where the benefits of the agility of rapid response and quick launch will be felt most keenly.

Meanwhile, the business fundamentals and long-term models can continue to be developed with traditional hand-coding – these are less likely to need urgent response or much input from beyond IT management staff but remain just as crucial.

With so many established and startup companies adapting to a new digital landscape, the benefits of low-code are obvious. Not only does it promise to bridge the skills gap, but these tools also support the development of custom applications tailored to the specific needs of every unique business. Already on its way to becoming the solution of choice for the majority of companies, now is the time to integrate low-code into your strategy.

Ritam Gandhi, is the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene – a London-based company that specializes in the development of blank canvas tech products including apps, websites, AR, IoT and more.