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Low-Code: The Quiet Revolution That's Changing the Way We Think About Software, Part 3 of 3

Roland Alston, Appian
August 19, 2019

(This is the final episode of a three-part series on the business value of low-code software development. Read part 2 here. Read part 1 here.)

Here's the thing. In the volatile age of digital transformation, companies succeed and fail on software. And large companies that do a better job of building and deploying killer business applications are dominating markets everywhere.

Perhaps this is why:

Over 70% of company software budgets are now focused on developing proprietary code in-house or under custom contracts, according to a recent Boston University study.

The bad news? IT resources are in short supply and we're now in a situation where an astonishing 50% of enterprise applications don't get delivered or fail to meet expectations according to a recent survey by IDG.

This problem applies to just about every business and every industry. At the same time, the most successful brands have been able to multiply the productivity of developers with tools that allow developers to build custom enterprise applications up to 20x faster than ever before.

But why is it that some companies are so much better at doing this than others?

Intuitively, we know that slow and incremental software development just can't cut it anymore. And we know why: the blistering pace of digital transformation. Organizations live and die on how fast they can build and deploy unique applications. But many companies are desperate to find a solution to this existential challenge.

Over the past 10 years, a quiet revolution has changed the way some companies think about software development as a competitive asset and not just a commodity IT resource. Forrester confirmed this in a recent survey which revealed:

An eye-popping 84% of companies have turned to low-code development to reduce strain on IT, increase speed-to-market, and get business leaders more involved in digital asset development.

On the flip side, though, are large companies too scared to change and engineers unable to build remarkable software without getting wrapped up in getting code to work. Incidentally, not all software engineers get an "A" in coding. In fact, self-taught developers dominate the field with fewer than half holding a formal degree in computer science or a related field. So says a recent survey from Stack Overflow a huge online community of people who code.

Bridging the software deficit is a huge challenge for IT teams which already spend 50% of their time on coding new applications and major enhancements, according to a recent Appian Future of Work survey. On top of that, research also shows that:

Companies are losing about two-fifths of their development time to technical debt (the cost of maintaining and updating old applications).

When asked how to mitigate this problem, more than half (53%) of respondents said they'd "look for new ways to accelerate application development."

Which brings us to the rise of low-code development. One of the cool things about low-code is that you don't need a degree in engineering to use it. And while some companies may treat low-code as a novelty, the most successful brands win when they treat low-code development as a competitive advantage.

What to Do When Off-the-Shelf Software Just Won't Cut It

If your IT organization hasn't accepted the idea that the old way of building software is fading away fast. Then you probably have a backlog of projects and initiatives that never ends. Your business has needs, and your IT team has trouble keeping up, what with everything else they must do to keep operations humming. You can buy off-the-shelf solutions to meet your business needs. But then integration becomes an issue.

Silos of data and process start to build up, and before you know it, you've created a bigger problem than you had before.

Alternatively, you can choose to build your own custom applications, the old school way. This has equal challenges when it comes to keeping up with demand. Another option is to add more developers. But talent is scarce and expensive too.

This makes low-code the perfect solution for CIOs looking to inject Agile development processes into their IT organizations. Low-code development is fast enough to meet your functional needs and powerful enough for enterprise-class projects too. So, whether it's a simple app or a complex app with thousands of data points. Whether you're a non-tech exec or expert developer, it really doesn't matter.

It turns out that low-code development has the speed and power to fit your needs.

The Last Word on Low-Code

Are you satisfied with the fact that application development issues in your organization get in the way of achieving business goals?

Does that software development platform you installed 5, 10, or 15 years ago have the speed and power you need to take on today's environment of constantly-evolving threats and opportunities? If not, low-code is worth a try. In fact, super-fast low-code deployments happen all the time. Case in point: The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), which built their first low-code application on Appian in just six weeks.

Amazingly, OCC went on to build and deploy nine critical risk management applications on Appian in 18 months. And now, they can build an application in a day.

"This is how you get the most out of low-code," says Appian CEO Calkins. "This is the kind of speed we like to see. And the kind of transformation that we aspire to. This is what we're working for, what we want to give to our customers."