Some SMEs are still skeptical about digitization measures. Why is this the case and how can low-code change this?
Reading time: Approximately 5 min.
“Even the longest way starts with the first step” – this famous Confucius quote is still valid today. Especially for the path of digital transformation.
Many organizations and companies are aware that they will have to take this path. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty or skepticism towards the best approach.
Searching for the happy medium
Apparently, a lot of medium-sized enterprises fear that the costs for comprehensive digitization measures might be too high (german). Some are convinced that they will not be able to adjust or extend software that was created with a low-code platform (german). Others view insufficient IT skills among their staff (german) as a problem.
Thus, the question arises: Are these assessments justified?
Low-Code – More than just a technical term
It is no longer a secret that low-code is not merely a technical term but rather an effective tool for implementing one´s digitzation strategy way faster and easier.
Why is that the case? Low-Code offers six “pillars” that can help carry your enterprise´s success: Features that simplify application creation.
Pillar 1: Configuration
Low code platforms work with a graphical user interface. Thus, already prefabricated elements can be assembled easily. This benfits both the user without programming knowledge and the professional developer. Even complex applications can be implemented with only a little programming effort (low-code). For additional functionalities that are not supported by configurative elements, the application can be additionally supplemented by individual native program code.
The already mentioned fear of many companies that their employees do not have sufficient digitization skills can thus be contradicted. This is due to the fact that even users without IT expertise can – enabled by low-code platforms – adapt individual components of already existing applications (apps) generated with low-code.
With grwoing experience, these users can even create their own applications independently and make them available to other users in a productive manner via IT support.
This relieves the development department and saves time and costs.
Pillar 2: Integration
Almost 80% of all digitization projects fail at the integration into existing IT system landscapes. Those are very fragemented in most enterprises.
Frequently, additional “Single Point Solutions” are also in use, which have been purchased by various divisions of the company in order to be able to use a suitable solution to optimize their individual processes.
However, the corresponding disadvantage is obvious: the corporate IT department must also manage these “third-party solutions” and attempt to integrate them into the existing IT landscape. This is usually a difficult undertaking, because only IT-tested and fully integrable (compatible) software also facilitates the IT processes in the entire company. Integrating existing data sources into third-party systems is often complicated, time-consuming and expensive.
Low-code platforms enable a simple connection of systems via standardized connectors by configuration.
By using data via connected systems (e.g. SAP), your business applications will receive a significant added value.
Pillar 3: Reusability
Speed and flexibility are top priorities in the creation of mobile applications: Low-code platforms support that by working with reusable elements.
What does that mean specifically? It is possible to create widgets, plug-ins and other templates that cannot only be leveraged by the user but by the entire company – as often as it is wished to do so (german).
So, existing application templates can be used as a starting point and be adjusted to individual demands at any time. Based on that, the end user is able to create his own library of elements such as tables, buttons and login-formulars.
Thus, applications are being created a lot faster and can go live a lot quicker. In addition to that, the effort for maintenance and optimization is reduced significantly.
Reusability is also very important in the creation of the business logic. By subdividing into user stories, reusable processes are being defined.
These can be worked on in parallel by several developers.
Reusability also plays a role in integration: required data sources are integrated quickly and easily into the processes via ready-made interfaces (connectors). Once these connectors have been created, they can also be used in any number of applications.
Pillar 4: Standardized code quality
Software development can often be compared to a race against time. In many cases, this means stress, missed deadlines, possibly also poor quality – and as a result, dissatisfied customers. Errors occur more frequently, especially in the manual creation of program code. Often times, there is also a lack of uniform and clean documentation to keep the traceability of the programmed software transparent.
In addition: As soon as several different developers work together on the code of an application, it can become confusing, since each developer has a different approach to writing code. In many cases,it is not easy to unravel the different code of all team colleagues afterwards. This is because coders are artists – everyone has their own approach and logic for solving a problem through programmed software. Accordingly, undocumented procedures can only be understood by other developers with great effort. For the same reason, maintenance and expandability are not always easy to handle.
In the event of maintenance, errors can be identified much more quickly and can be corrected faster by adapting the graphical configuration logic.
Pillar 5: Resource efficency
Especially today, companies face the problem that the market does not always provide suitable IT experts and developers. They need special developer skills for various versions of an application. One example is the development of an application for Android and one for IOS devices. In very few cases, there are developers who specialize in both. In this case, if both are to be supported, you will need two different programmers in your development team. So, you will have to find a different way of doing this.
Added to this is the challenge that growing demands from customers and specialty departments make application development projects increasingly complex. Both specialty departments and customers from the private sector are used to using mobile applications (apps), which enable them to act quickly and easily. Understandably, they also expect this in their work lives when it comes to using business or enterprise apps.
Since the technical complexity of low-code platforms is much less than that of conventional programming methods and they usually support mobile apps, such applications can be created more easily.
The available resources and budget are used optimally by employees from the specialty departments using their respective knowledge of processes and their technical understanding in a profitable way. They participate in the creation of applications.
The positive consequences:
- Not all existing IT resources have to be tied up, i.e. IT does not necessarily have to be involved in all processes during application development,
- the specialty department colleagues know about the challenges in their departments, this knowledge can be incorporated into the creation of applications -> an even more targeted solution that is better tailored to the user is created!
In this instance, good “onboarding” is necessary. In order to guarantee this, the corresponding employees from specialty departments are enabled by training, online tutorials and documentation from the low-code providers to independently help design parts of the application (UI and processes), or to adapt or extend existing applications.
Pillar 6: Cost savings
Approximately 60% of all traditional software projects exceed the previously defined scope – mainly for cost reasons. Therefore, realistic planning is necessary right from the start.Unfortunately, too often this is not the case. Integration into existing systems and subsequent adaptation of the applications (change request) is usually particularly expensive.
In comparison, the use of low-code platforms offers significant cost-saving potential, e.g.: through faster development and minimized integration efforts. This means that machines, systems and sensors can be connected more easily through configuration rather than through coding.
Due to the configurational approach, smaller change requests can be carried out by the specialty departments themselves without any complications.
Since technically experienced employees can generally participate in the creation of applications through low-code platforms, even if they are not trained IT specialists, costs are also saved, because expensive external specialists no longer have to be purchased for development “bottlenecks”. This can reduce additional costs significantly.
Many of the fears that (medium-sized) companies have regarding digitisation can be allayed with low-code platforms.
For example, high costs are reduced simply by the fact that employees from the specialist departments can support their IT colleagues in creating applications. The configurative approach of low-code makes this possible.
The concern that applications that have been created with low-code platforms cannot be adapted or extended to new conditions later on is also unfounded. Low-code platforms make it possible to subsequently extend existing applications and adapt them to new requirements (german).
Another problem that can be solved with the help of low-code platforms is the concern of many companies that their employees do not have sufficient digitization skills: Low-code platforms are generally easy and intuitive to use thanks to their graphical user interface. With appropriate training from the vendor, employees with a minimum of technical understanding can be enabled to create parts of applications in a relatively short time.
This means, especially for medium-sized companies, that they can approach digitization without hesitation – the key to success are low-code platforms.