In the past few years in the software industry, there has been a frenzy of activity around platform offerings targeted at users with little or development experience. These “low-code and no-code” platforms are designed to make it easy for people to design, build, and launch applications efficiently, without having to deal with the nuances of underlying operating systems or scalability requirements.
Low and no-code platforms, built on extended cloud-based Platform-as-a-service environments, typically use visual programming interfaces to solve business problems more efficiently than what could be accomplished with traditional software development. The benefit of this approach is that it requires minimal time and resources to launch a live product quickly- a less-costly alternative to building an internal team of designers and developers or outsourcing it to an agency. Essentially, they make software development as easy as using Word or PowerPoint, so that the average business user can create projects easily without the need for an engineering team.
Although there are a ton of benefits in using low and no-code platforms, there are also some challenges. As this type of platform is still at its infancy, there are still many unknowns about it, as opposed to traditional programming, which has robust communities and enormous bodies of knowledge. Challenges of low and no-code development include data security and trouble learning proper programming techniques, and handling of data. As well, resources and community support are relatively scarce, since many no and low-code platforms are still immature.
Low-code and no-code are often employed interchangeably, but there are a few subtle differences between the two types. Low-code software can be fully customized with a minimal amount of programing and can be done in a few hours or days. It is typically used by users with development experience who need to quickly build apps, with visual development, automated links to back-end systems, databases, or APIs. On the other hand, no-code solutions go a step further, allowing practically anyone to create an application without any programming knowledge at all.
The low and no-code landscape is complex, with numerous solutions, platforms, and submarkets. Low and no-code solutions are useful for startups and small businesses that need to quickly launch apps to the market, as well as for larger, established enterprises.
Nevertheless, since the onset of COVID-19, the number of executives prioritizing low and no-code platforms as their most important automation investment has almost tripled, from 10% to 26%. According to KPMG, 100% of enterprises who have established a low and no-code platform have seen a return on investment (ROI). It is undeniable that the popularity and prevalence of low and no-code solutions is rising rapidly. It is predicted that more than half of medium to large enterprises will implement low and no-code platforms within the next two years. According to Gartner, low-code applications will account for 65% of application development by 2024, and the low-code market will top $21 billion in spending by 2022. The implications of this type of rapid expansion are huge- it means that software providers will continue to simplify their solutions to allow for greater customization, and that we will see an
entirely new set of software infrastructure platforms in the coming years that are geared to enable faster development (For example, Zapier and GitHub).