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Low Code: Why Compromise on Software Development if You Don't Have to? Part 2 of 3

Roland Alston, Appian
August 5, 2019

(This is the second installment of a three-part series on the business value of low-code development. Read the final installment here.)

If you don't think you've got a problem with software development, this blog isn't for you. But that's okay. On the other hand, if your organization is among the many out there that are struggling to keep up with rising demand for business applications, you're in the right place.

Here's the thing. Research shows that software development is in a crisis. We're now in a situation where a jaw-dropping 50% of enterprise applications don't get delivered or fail to meet expectations according toa recent survey by IDG. On top of that, 80% of IT execs say they worry about dealing with the pressure cooker of digital transformation.

At the same time, the best low-code platforms can multiply the productivity of developers by allowing them to build custom enterprise applications faster than ever before.So, why haven't the skeptics switched? For some, it's easier to compromise than to change. They compromise on expectations and on the difference between ordinary and extraordinary performance.

But it turns out that many are starting to come to their own conclusions about the advantages of low-code development. In fact, an overwhelming 84% of companies have turned to low-code development to reduce strain on IT resources, increase speed-to-market, and get business leaders involved in digital asset development, according toForrester.

So, what's so special about the low-code platform? For starters, it injects Agile development processes into an IT organization.

If your IT organization is like most, you have a backlog of projects that never ends which forces you to make compromises to keep up with demand.Sure, you can slap on 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. But this is where many companies stumble when it comes to keeping up with expectations. Another option is to add more developers. But experienced talent is way scarce and expensive too.

Why is low-code so fast? In a word: Simplicity. "If I could boil Appian (low-code platform) down into one word," says Appian Founder and CEO Matt Calkins, "it'd be simplicity." But all companies must accelerate IT delivery without sacrificing quality or accumulating more technical debt," says Calkins. Incidentally, Appian is the first low-code company to go public.

Low-code takes the complexity out of building custom applications which speeds up the development process.

CIO magazine recently described low-code development as a Lego-like approach to building software, with drag-and-drop tools that allow developers to build applications without writing code.

Bottom line: the best low-code platforms offer new, more nimble ways for IT to help the business move faster, keep up with customer expectations and deliver faster business impact.

3 Ways Low-Code Speeds Business Impact

    • Simplified Design: Instead of writing code, you draw a flowchart to define business logic (even highly-complex logic), or drag and drop to build an interface, or point and click to build rules or configure an integration. Everything you build with low-code is reusable. So, if you build an integration or define a rule for an application today, adding that same component into a different application tomorrow is a snap.

    • Simplified Collaboration: As a productivity multiplier, low-code delights developers. But it also makes it easier for line of business execs and IT to work together to optimize the business impact of an application. The low-code design process is visual which also means it's user-friendly for non-tech, business people. All of which makes it that much easier to keep business and IT on the same page.

    • Simplified Deployment: Low-code platforms include DevOps capabilities that make deploying, managing, and changing applications simple. Want to deploy that new application to users on web, mobile, and tablets with a single click? With low-code that's possible. Need to change or update an application? Any change you make takes effect instantly, with no downtime and no interruption to your business operations.

As low-code translates your idea into an application, it also invests that application with a host of features automatically inherited from the platform.

This includes features like enhanced security and multi-platform parity that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to code. Think of it as "free power."

It's also worth noting that low-code applications are immune to technical debt. They're easier to change, more mobile, more portable to the cloud, more integrated, and more secure.

In other words, low-code platforms enable users to meet even the toughest enterprise requirements for security, scalability, and reliability.

A recent study by Forrester revealed that firms with the lowest tolerance for downtime and data loss, and the strongest requirements for continuous auditing and independent security certification, are the most likely to run top applications on low-code.

Fast Facts on Low-Code Power

    • Reliability and Security: The Appian low-code platform, for example, gives you the confidence of 99.99% service level reliability. There's also an optional service level agreement that guarantees 99.95 reliability, with a 15-minute Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Security is built right into the Appian Platform. And the company's suite of security endorsements and badges is unsurpassed by any other vendor in the industry.

    • Global coverage: Need global coverage for your application? The best low-code platforms have your back on that as well. Appian's data centers are strategically located in numerous regions and availability zones around the world. And Appian's Cloud Security is designed to meet the toughest local, regional and global industry standards. With the best low-code platforms, you can host your application anywhere, because it runs on the cloud. You can also leave your data anywhere you want, because the platform can assemble unified data views regardless of where the data resides.

    • Instant mobility: Build once, deploy everywhere. The explosion of mobile devices like cell phones and tablets in the business created waves of new development requests. And there's Alexa, and smart watches, and who-knows-what-else coming just around the corner. Modern enterprise applications must have cross-platform functionality standard in their design. With true low-code development, it all happens behind the scenes automatically, with no extra effort, coding, or resources.

Do I need low-code (now)? Why wait when of all impediments to digital transformation, lack of speed may be the toughest to overcome.

Something else to consider is that falling behind the software demand curve can be lethal. But here's the conundrum: The more you embrace digitization, the more complex your IT architecture can become. And, with rising expectations from your business and customers, how can your IT organization possibly keep pace?So, what are the warning signs that you need a low-code platform? Here's a cheat sheet.

5 Warning Signs It's Time to Go Low-Code

    • Keeping up with application demand from the business is difficult: Your IT organization is constantly slammed with demands from the larger organization. The IT backlog is large...and perpetually growing. IT is falling behind.

    • Legacy applications are loading you down with technical debt: Legacy applications drain efficiency...your IT resources. They keep talented IT resources in a continual state of updates and fixes. And puts compliance at risk.

    • More time is spent on maintenance than innovation: With the need to keep legacy systems and applications operating properly, most IT teams spend nearly 80% of their time on maintenance, and only 20% on new innovation. Too little time focused on innovative solutions leads to shadow IT.

    • Employees don't wait for IT. They're creating their own solutions that are not a part of your architecture. In a world of Shadow IT, this adds even more complexity to your business.

    • Development resources are scarce: You urgently need top-notch software developers. But it's getting increasingly harder to find and retain them.

If any of this sounds familiar, your organization could be a candidate for a low-code development platform.

Conventional wisdom says that it's impossible to move forward without compromise. And so, we compromise on quality or on the tools we choose to solve a problem. We compromise on our standards and on our expectations. The same is true in software development. How many times have you been forced to choose between building custom software right or building it fast?

Imagine how much more your organization would stand out from the crowd if you didn't have to compromise. That's the magic of low-code.

(Tune in next week for the final episode of this three-part series on the business value of low-code development. Check out part 1 here.)