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Navigating the Future of Process Automation: Low-Code Insights for IT Leaders

Roland Alston, Appian
April 10, 2024

Low-code is here to stay. In fact, Gartner anticipates the adoption of low-code development platforms will grow 20% per year to $44.5 billion by 2026.

However, while low-code offers enterprise IT leaders undeniable advantages, its role in shaping the future of process automation is nuanced. This blog delves into the dichotomy of low-code's potential, exploring why it is the future but not the sole solution for process automation.

Low-code is the future—for some use cases.

IT leaders must weigh several critical success factors when considering whether to opt for low-code or traditional development.

Yes, low-code platforms are ideal tools for rapidly deploying enterprise-grade software solutions while keeping costs in check. However, deciding between low-code and traditional development hinges on which approach would yield the most value.

For example, by simplifying software development, low-code allows developers to focus on core business differentiators and mission-critical tasks, maximizing their impact. On the other hand, there are scenarios where traditional development may be more suitable. 

If, for example, your organization needs highly customized software solutions tailored to very specific needs or preferences, and you have the resources to support a team of professional developers, traditional development may be the way to go. (However, leading low-code platforms do come with the flexibility to go in and customize applications using traditional code, too.) 

Ultimately, IT leaders can leverage a combination of both development styles based on project requirements and business users' needs. However, for scenarios where rapid deployment of enterprise-grade solutions is paramount, low-code development offers unsurpassed agility, scalability, and efficiency.


AI future-proofs low-code even more.

Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into low-code development is revolutionizing the software development landscape. Generative AI, in particular, has emerged as a powerful catalyst for speeding up low-code development. Adding GenAI to low-code is like firing up the afterburners on a supersonic jet engine. The synergy between low-code and generative AI enhances efficiency and accelerates the delivery of enterprise-grade applications.

AI-augmented low-code development.

While generative AI tools excel at automating certain aspects of code generation, they often encounter limitations when tasked with more complex applications. Low-code development, especially when integrated into a broader AI-powered process automation platform, addresses many of these limitations by providing enterprise-grade development tools that follow built-in best practices. 

This comprehensive approach ensures rapid development and security and lets you create sophisticated applications at scale. However, one of the challenges associated with generative AI is the occurrence of "hallucinations," where algorithms confidently produce incorrect predictions, leading to errors in the code.

Low-code is not immune to such issues, but its prebuilt components and guardrails significantly mitigate the risk of errors. Blending generative AI and low-code accelerates development and ensures the creation of high-quality, error-free applications, future-proofing organizations against digital disruption.


How low-code changed the process automation game.

Every organization must adapt to survive as innovation accelerates. That’s where the agility of low-code platforms shines, with prebuilt connectors and integrations that enable companies to seamlessly and swiftly incorporate the latest technologies into their operations.

These out-of-the-box features propel the widespread adoption of low-code platforms across industries, as evidenced by the success stories of market leaders like S&P Global and Mollie, a fintech payment service provider.


Companies soar to new heights with low-code automation.

S&P Global's remarkable achievements, including automating over 1,400 processes and 130 million tasks through Appian applications, highlight low-code solutions' exceptional scalability and efficiency.

Similarly, Mollie's digital transformation journey exemplifies the power of low-code development in driving agility, innovation, and rapid growth. By leveraging the Appian Platform, Mollie streamlined its insurance processes, going from 50 separate workflows to seven unified processes; developed its first application in six weeks; and rapidly delivered prototypes for multiple use cases.

Mollie's success story resonates with that of NatWest Group, a leading banking institution. Just as Mollie elevated its operational performance to new heights through low-code adoption, NatWest Group achieved significant milestones in automating governance processes, as recognized by Celent.

For starters, NatWest's implementation of low-code solutions dramatically reduced their product governance assessment cycles from 4.5 days to under 20 minutes, aligning with their ambitious goal of a 73-day to 73-minute cycle.  Additionally, the automation of over 43% of NatWest’s workflows and optimization of 53% of their processes underscores how low-code enhances operational productivity and bolsters competitiveness in today's dynamic business landscape.

Let's delve deeper into the transformative power of low-code automation, this time at EDP Renewables (EDPR).


EDPR accelerates digital transformation with low-code solutions.

As EDPR rapidly expanded its global operations and set ambitious goals, the company was challenged to maintain safe and compliant processes. But disconnected systems and bottlenecks hindered collaboration and efficiency, prompting the need for a scalable process automation solution.

Traditional business process management software couldn’t address these challenges. So, EDPR turned to the Appian Platform to swiftly develop and deploy custom applications tailored to its needs, from construction scheduling to environmental, health, and safety (EHS) reporting.


Download the EDP Renewables case study and learn how this market leader realized a 10x ROI on their initial low-code investment.

Today, with over 150 applications built on Appian, 80% of EDPR’s employees leverage low-code tools to work more efficiently, resulting in a remarkable 10x ROI. Moreover, low-code’s intuitive user interface and flexible workflows facilitated widespread adoption, driving compliance and bolstering operational performance.

With a low-code approach, EDPR achieved ISO 14001 certification for its EHS incident management system and fostered a culture of innovation and collaboration—a testament to the game-changing impact of low-code automation.


Helia achieves 50% cost reduction and 12x faster app development with a low-code platform.

As we continue to explore the transformative power of low-code, let's turn our attention to Helia, a major Australian Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) company that uses low-code to automate the entire lifecycle of LMI policies. This included developing essential applications, such as a new underwriting platform, a claims management system, an operational quality assurance tool, and a billing solution. The results were remarkable for Helia:

  • Achieved a 50% reduction in operating costs.

  • Streamlined claims processing to under 10 minutes from two days.

  • Boosted application development by 12x.

  • Reduced development costs to just 35% of what traditional development would have cost, by estimation. 


Watch the video Customer Showcase: Helia, and discover the game-changing power of low-code and agile development.

By harnessing the flexibility and scalability of a low-code platform, Helia’s IT leaders positioned themselves to successfully drive digital transformation and deliver exceptional value across the company’s operations.

However, despite notable success stories like Helia's, the path to digital transformation remains fraught with challenges for many. A recent KPMG survey underscores this reality, revealing that most US businesses have yet to observe any discernible uptick in performance or profitability resulting from their investments in digital initiatives.

These findings reveal the challenges organizations face in leveraging technology to drive meaningful change. Despite considerable investment in digital transformation endeavors, many companies struggle to realize tangible benefits regarding operational efficiency and bottom-line impact. This discrepancy between expectation and reality underscores the need for a more strategic, low-code approach to technology adoption and implementation.

Nevertheless, there remains a glimmer of hope for IT leaders seeking to navigate the complexities of today's rapidly evolving business landscape. By harnessing the agility and efficiency offered by low-code solutions, organizations can position themselves for success in an era of constant change and disruption.


Low-code: A strategic imperative for IT leaders.

Low-code platforms offer a compelling blend of flexibility, scalability, and speed, enabling businesses to rapidly develop and deploy innovative solutions to address evolving market demands and customer expectations.

While the road to digital transformation may be fraught with obstacles, low-code solutions are a promising path forward for organizations looking to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive and dynamic environment. As technology continues to evolve and reshape the business landscape, embracing the potential of low-code automation is a strategic imperative for IT leaders seeking to drive sustainable growth and innovation within their organizations.