Sending Lotus Notes, Microsoft Access or Excel into retirement – with low code

A guest article by Michael Hülskötter

Too many companies are still struggling with outdated applications and files that were once developed using Lotus Notes or Microsoft tools such as Access or Excel. Fortunately, it does not take much to convert them into modern applications – just a little know-how and the right low code environment.

1984 marks the Lotus Notes year of birth, and many companies are still using it. However, a lot has changed technically in these 35 years. Thus, the construct “server-based document database” no longer works properly today. Users want to be much more flexible than when Lotus Notes was invented. Data is supposed to be available at all times and everywhere, not only on-premise (i.e. on the server), but also in the cloud with all its advantages.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that even large companies such as Continental are switching from pure Lotus Notes application development to a form of programming that is currently making a lot of waves: low code programming. The term “programming” does not quite fit the bill, though, since the special feature is the possibility to “rebuild” Lotus Notes applications  with the help of low-code tools – without having to have profound programming skills. The result: Fewer software developers (who are difficult to find anyway) are needed, and the project can be implemented in a fraction of the time.

What more could a company ask for?

When the Microsoft Access database no longer meets modern requirements

What is true for Lotus Domino can be applied to Microsoft’s database application Access in at least the same way. Access has also become a little long in the tooth. Its size limitation of 2 Gigabytes alone sees to it that this database is no longer “state of the art” in times of Big Data and Co. But is that reason enough to send all the elaborately programmed database applications completely to the digital hunting grounds?

Not necessarily.

The correct low code implementation can help solve this dilemma as well. It can be used to generate a database that meets today’s requirements. This includes access via smartphone and tablet as well as the integration of the database into the preferred cloud environment. So regardless of whether this is to run on your own “private cloud” or in one of the numerous public cloud environments – low code applications represent the right mix of a convenient development environment and a modern application environment.

A question that users of Excel and Access might ask themselves: How can existing Microsoft applications actually be integrated into a low code process. Keywords here are above all existing databases and Mindsphere. In many cases this can be done quite easily thanks to existing interfaces.

Microsoft Excel lists as a CRM application in the cloud

The situation is all too familiar: The once managable excel contact list has mutated towards a crm tool – albeit with all the restrictions such a “home-made application” offers. A contact database like this quickly becomes confusing, does not offer a reasonable search function, and this pseudo crm tool is not really cloud-suitable either. Of course, such a customer file can be made more comfortable and powerful thanks to sophisticated macro instructions. But who still knows how to do this kind of coding? Exactly!

Alternatively, one could convert the complete excel file into a cloud-ready application with the help of suitable low code tools. Not only would the data be given a modern look, but the resulting application could be extended with little effort to include useful functions that transform a pure excel list into a genuine crm application. No doubt about it: sales and marketing officers would like that very much.

Summary: low code makes a noiseless digital transformation possible

Whether it be Excel, Access or other applications that users have grown to love: the transformation into the digital age is often  not successful with these tools.

That is why usage of low code platforms is the sustainable way. Needed applications can be created with relatively little effort and reused for other projects in a similar form thanks to the template approach. Both CEO and CFO will be equally pleased about this.


If you would like to learn more about low code platforms, please feel free to contact us!

About the author:

Michael Hülskötter holds a degree in business informatics. In 2006 he started his blog IT-techBlog in which he focuses on topics such as AI, IoT and low code.

What´s more, he works as freelance video blogger and PR and Marketing consultant.

In addition to that, he is external communication expert for Hülskötter & Partner Consulting

He lives in Munich.

2019-10-11T08:48:24+02:0010.10.2019|