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Straight Talk about Low-code

Rena Stern, Director of Product Marketing, Appian
May 3, 2021

Business leaders are increasingly turning to IT organizations to help drive digital transformation through automation and innovation across lines of business. These leaders are selecting, implementing, and maintaining technology investments that support their businesses, while keeping IT costs down. Unfortunately, escalating technical debt and a lack of skilled talent are preventing IT from being as impactful as it could be. 

Technical debt is the time and cost that IT organizations must spend maintaining existing systems and taking care of ongoing tasks—such as upgrades, security certifications, regulatory compliance checks, and performance considerations—just to keep the lights on. IDG estimates that IT teams spend nearly 40 percent of their time addressing and servicing technical debt[1]. It’s like trying to run in sand—sure, you make some progress, but you’re certainly not moving as fast as you could be.    

Compounding this challenge, IT organizations are often shorthanded. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1.4 million computer science jobs at the end of 2020, with only 400,000 graduates to fill them. Clearly, hiring more people is not a viable solution.

Further, IDC estimates that organizations will spend around $6.8 trillion on digital transformation[1]  between 2020 and 2023, yet only a quarter of these organizations will realize a return on their investment (IDC Digital Transformation Guide, 2020). Spending alone is not enough to accelerate innovation and digital transformation.

This is where low-code comes in. Low-code allows developers to rapidly build applications with visual design tools and offers many benefits:

●      Low-code is easy to learn because it uses visual and declarative design. With the right platform, a junior developer can perform like they’ve spent decades in the field.

●      Low-code integrates governance into the software development lifecycle, simplifying and accelerating the creation and delivery of enterprise software.

●      Low-code design tools have an intuitive, visual nature that facilitates increased collaboration between business and IT to develop new solutions.

●      Low-code accelerates innovation by simplifying development while reducing the amount of time required for technical debt management, allowing IT to spend more time on innovation and less time on maintenance.

Yet a number of misconceptions exist about low-code. Let’s set the record straight:

Misconception 1: Low-code platforms are for citizen developers, not professional developers.

The reality: Low-code platforms are for all developers.

●      Forrester predicts 75 percent of development shops will use low code by the end of 2021[2].

●      IDC found that 40 percent of developers at large organizations have used low-code development tools.

●      IDC also found that 30 percent of large organizations have formal low-code developer programs[3].

Misconception 2: Low-code platforms do not support an option for traditional coding.

The reality: Low-code platforms vary in functionality and levels of customization, from basic WYSIWYG, to enterprise-grade platforms that support DevOps tools and integration with other databases and applications and allow for customization by modifying code.

Misconception 3: Low-code platforms are only good for small-scale applications, not enterprise-grade software.

The reality: Low-code platforms, like many other software tools, vary in nature. Some are intended for small-scale departmental applications and others for enterprise-grade applications.  Leading organizations including Bayer, Ryder, and the US Air Force are using the Appian low-code automation platform for mission-critical applications.


Dig in Deeper

Watch the webinar Straight Talk about Enterprise Low-code with Jorge Sanchez, Appian Sr. Director, Product Strategy, and Jennifer Thomson, IDC Sr. Research Director, for more straight talk about low-code—and how embracing it can help IT organizations accelerate development and innovation.


[1] IDG Future of Work Survey, 2018

[2] Forrester Predictions 2021: Software Development, October 30th, 2020 | Jeffrey Hammond, Randy Heffner, Rob Koplowitz, Diego Lo Giudice, John Rymer, Margo Visitacion, John Bratincevic, Christopher Condo

[3] IDC European Accelerated App Delivery Practice 2021