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Low-Code Features: 8 Can’t-Live-Withouts of a Good Development Platform

Roland Alston, Appian
November 22, 2023

If you’re not using low-code, you’re already behind the curve. These platforms empower organizations to adapt quickly to the unforeseen crises and dynamic market conditions we’re all too familiar with. In this article, we'll delve into eight essential low-code features you need to have to keep up.

Download the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) for an unbiased evaluation of LCAP vendors.

1. Simplified design: Reusable components and easy configuration.

Low-code application platforms have graphical interfaces, which minimize manual coding, simplify the process of designing complex custom applications, and accelerate app development. They offer reusable, prebuilt components and straightforward configuration while also allowing for custom coding. One of the benefits of low-code is that the simplicity and flexibility allows for rapid prototyping of complex applications and seamless collaboration between developers and non-technical users, accelerating application development.

2. Data fabric architecture: Unified data for smarter decision-making.

In modern low-code development, data fabric functionality has emerged as a critical feature. It enables organizations to unify their data from disparate systems, providing a single source of truth for informed decision-making. Here's why data fabric architecture is a must-have low-code feature:

  • Data integration: Seamlessly integrate data from multiple sources, breaking down silos and ensuring comprehensive information access.
  • Enhanced security: Centrally manage data access and security, safeguarding data privacy and integrity. 
  • AI empowerment: Enable AI services with unified, secure data, facilitating AI model training and smart decision-making. 
  • Streamlined processes: Optimize business processes by leveraging unified data, improving decision-making and operational efficiency.

Learn how data fabric speeds low-code application development, plus real-world examples and business benefits.

3. Instant mobility: Seamless mobile application deployment.

In today's fast-paced world, mobile app development is a crucial low-code feature that ensures your applications are readily accessible on mobile devices without additional effort or resources. Look for: 

  • Cross-platform compatibility: A robust low-code platform should offer built-in cross-platform functionality tailored to iOS and Android, which enables your applications to work seamlessly across devices. 
  • Effortless deployment: With instant mobility, you eliminate the need for separate mobile development, maintenance, or upgrades. Any changes made to applications automatically reflect in the mobile user experience. 
  • Enhanced user accessibility: Ensure your low-code platform prioritizes mobile user experiences, allowing your audience to access and interact with your applications effortlessly.

Instant mobility is a game-changer for reaching your audience on their preferred devices. When evaluating low-code platforms, place considerable weight on  their capabilities for instant mobile deployment.

4. Security and scalability: Reliably secure data and applications.

As organizations embark on large-scale digital transformation projects, integrating emerging technologies with legacy IT systems and complex workflows is a make-or-break business challenge. While these technologies offer tremendous value in meeting market demands, they also introduce cybersecurity risks that leaders must navigate. Balancing innovation with advanced security is a critical challenge for enterprise-grade applications.

In that context, low-code platforms provide a robust solution, offering built-in security measures to safeguard against evolving threats. They ensure your enterprise applications remain up-to-date and secure, even in complex digital environments. Look for low-code platforms that meet stringent security certifications like PCI, HIPAA, SOC 2 and 3, and FedRAMP compliance to address the cybersecurity concerns associated with the enterprise application development process.

5. Process mining tools: Data-driven insights for better processes.

Process mining is a powerful tool that helps you close the gap between what’s happening inside your business processes and what you think is happening there. This advanced feature leverages data from existing processes and digital workflows to identify optimization opportunities, eliminate bottlenecks, automate non-essential tasks, and streamline business operations. Additionally, process mining provides insights into activities across applications and third-party systems, helping organizations make informed decisions.

Demand for low-code is exploding. Download the Ultimate Low-Code Buyers Guide and find the best platform for your needs.

6. Low-code integration: Simplified system integration.

Low-code integration is a pivotal feature that streamlines the process of connecting various systems and technologies, simplifying the integration of databases, cloud services, RPA, AI, and APIs. Its key advantages include: 

  • Visual integration tools: Low-code platforms offer drag-and-drop visual tools that accelerate integration by eliminating the need for extensive coding. 
  • Prebuilt templates: They come with pre-designed templates for connecting with popular systems, reducing development time. 
  • Reduced complexity: Low-code integration abstracts technical intricacies, allowing developers to focus on business logic and minimizing errors. 
  • Adaptability: Advanced integration capabilities enable quick responses to new integration requirements, offering a wide range of adapters for various systems, from SAP to emerging technologies.

Level up your approach to integrations. Look for an enterprise-grade platform with a broad selection of adapters to integrate applications with databases, services, leading software products, and emerging technologies.

How much faster can you build applications with a low-code process platform? Get the Forrester Total Economic Impact™ of Appian study. 

7. Robotic process automation (RPA): Efficiency through automation.

RPA is a core feature that automates rule-based, repetitive tasks, making it particularly valuable for legacy systems lacking APIs. When used as part of a broader enterprise automation initiative, RPA can significantly boost efficiency,  streamline business processes, and improve business outcomes.

Most low-code automation platforms will provide some RPA functionality as part of their low-code automation offering, but make sure this feature is part of a more extensive offering. RPA alone may deliver some small gains, but for real business benefit, it’s best when integrated strategically with other automation tools to streamline processes, reduce manual effort, and enhance business agility.

8. Artificial intelligence (AI): Faster, smarter app development.

AI is a cutting-edge capability that can turbocharge your application development process. When evaluating a low-code platform, consider its AI integration features, ensuring they align with your operational needs:

  • Seamless integration: Seek a platform that effortlessly incorporates AI into your workflows, simplifying the adoption of advanced AI technologies. 
  • Privacy and customization: Ensure AI models can be trained on your proprietary data in a way that maintains data privacy while still enabling custom-tailored solutions.
  • Use cases: Look for a platform that supports critical use cases, such as AI-enabled content processing for:
    • Email classification: Automate the categorization of emails, improving communication efficiency for tasks like customer inquiries and feedback. 
    • Document classification: Identify and categorize information within PDFs, streamlining document handling and routing. 
    • Document extraction: Automatically extract essential data from semi-structured documents, reducing manual data entry and minimizing errors.

Read the blog: AI and Process Automation: 7 Ways to Use It in Your Business and learn how to get the most out of your AI investment.

AI-enabled intelligent document processing (IDP) saves thousands of person-hours per year while significantly improving accuracy by eliminating manual form and business document intake. Prioritize platforms that seamlessly integrate low-code development with an out-of-the-box AI-enabled IDP capability to categorize documents, route work, and extract content efficiently. Most importantly, make sure the AI is trained on your data and kept private to you.

Powering your digital transformation.

In today's dynamic digital landscape, rapid transformation isn't just an option; it's a necessity. The eight essential low-code features discussed above serve as the cornerstone of operational resilience amid constant change. By making these features a priority in your low-code platform selection, you unlock the potential to accelerate development, foster collaboration, fortify security, and boost operational resilience in the ever-evolving business landscape.

Compare top LCAP vendors for business workflow automation with integration. Download the complimentary Gartner report: 2023 Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms.