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Welcome To The Low Code/No Code Revolution

Companies are innovating by taking app development into their own hands. 

Chocolate cakes. Birthday cards. Knit hats. Some things are just better when they’re made by hand.  

Apps are not necessarily one of these things. 

Consider the story of an entrepreneur I met a few years ago. He was building an application for auto service centers that would send customers updates and service recommendations within a mobile app. No back-and-forth phone calls or inconvenient wait times required. 

Sounds simple, right? Not so much.  

It took 12 engineers working full-time for 12 months just to reach a minimum viable product. And of that 12 months, only four were focused on UX and mobile capabilities—the parts of the app that were truly key to its success. The remainder were spent structuring databases, determining user access rights, and building up the technology stack.   

When my team reviewed the final product, it became apparent that we could have built the entire application in three weeks with just three employees—only one of which, the developer, would be working on the project full-time.  

Why the disparity? The auto entrepreneur built both the front- and back-end from scratch, while my team had the Now Platform App Engine, our low-code/no-code solution (LCNC), at its fingertips. 

LCNC platforms let people build enterprise-grade apps with minimal programming effort, offering a roadmap away from the traditionally slow, costly, and inefficient development process.   

This kind of agility is critical during COVID-19, when companies are crying out for digital workflow apps that help maintain business continuity. But even more than needing these digital solutions, companies need them to be simple, fast and affordable to build while still meeting enterprise standards for security and scalability.   

That’s where enterprise-grade low-code/no-code comes in.  

Reduce costs, reuse concepts, recycle code 

While typical app development requires hand-coding from scratch, LCNC lets developers use pre-built components to accelerate the programming process.   

Granted, this isn’t appropriate for every development need and traditional development is not going away anytime soon. But utilized appropriately, LCNC enables a strategic consolidation of apps as part of an organization’s broader push for agility and digital transformation.  

One reason my team could have built the auto app so quickly is that, conceptually, it’s nearly identical to the field service management app already part of the ServiceNow portfolio. We could take the completed technology stack and reconfigure its components for our needs. It’s the app dev version of reduce, reuse, recycle.   

When you look across the enterprise, there are countless apps that are conceptually much the same. LCNC simply gathers these common functionalities so users can “drag-and-drop” them into the creation of something new. 

It’s no wonder LCNC is generally cheaper and faster than traditional app development. VDC Research places the average cost of enterprise mobile app development at $140,000 per app. LCNC can reduce development time by up to 90%. Here, the saying “time is money” is clearly true.   

Citizen developers unleash innovation  

The benefit of LCNC isn’t limited to cost and effort alone. LCNC also enables a new type of programmer: the citizen developer.  

Citizen developers are employees who sit within the business and have either limited or non-existent programming skills. What they do have is business acumen and an understanding of what their team needs to function efficiently.  

And that translates directly to innovation.  

recent study by McKinsey, for example, found organizations that empower citizen developers score 33% higher on measures of innovation than those who do not. 33%! 

There are a few things driving this number. First, more minds equal more ideas. Second, expanding app development outside of DevOps and IT unleashes diversity of thought, which leads to apps that meet a wider variety of needs. And third, the use of citizen developers frees experienced programmers to focus on more challenging, more rewarding tasks.  

The same McKinsey study found that companies in the top Developer Velocity quartile (defined as both speed of development and ability to tap the full potential of development talent) report four to five times faster revenue growth than their bottom-quartile peers.  

Obviously, innovation is the key to competition. 

Not all platforms are created equal 

When Fred Luddy founded ServiceNow in 2004, he hoped to untangle the knot of technology that comes from using different enterprise tools on different platforms. As he pointed out in 2014, we want “people to do things with technology where they don’t even think it’s programming.”   

One platform, one data model, one simple solution for LCNC capabilities. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’ve seen the results in action. And it is a true enterprise gamechanger—one that every company seeking agility and a competitive edge should adopt.  

Onward citizen developers! Build those apps—unless it’s a cake, there’s no need to bake from scratch.

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