what is low code development?
low-code development is an umbrella term that includes process development solutions, low-code application development, and software development tools.
Low-code development solutions provide building blocks that users can assemble into workflows and applications. these building blocks abstract the code behind actions and commands, allowing you to assemble business applications and workflows without the need for hand coding.
why is low code important?
In the last 20 years, the variety of tools and technologies available to organizations has exploded. As a result, IT departments no longer manage homogeneous stacks, but rather diverse and complex environments. and as those environments have evolved, so has it.
Twenty years ago, an IT team could rely on highly specialized employees: the database administrator who knew how/400 inside and out, the manager who could include Cobol as a native language, and so on. if an etl process was needed to move data to cognos, someone could write that.
Today, relying on custom scripts no longer matches the speed and agility that businesses require, while specialization works against the increasingly common cross-platform processes. there are very few developers who have experience with every tool involved in any end-to-end process.
Low-code development platforms allow you to rapidly assemble new processes and build applications without having to research, write, and test new scripts. Just as important, IT professionals don’t have to have specialized knowledge of every tool or technology involved in a set of processes because the code abstracts away. With the right low-code tool, almost any member of the IT team can build reliable cross-platform business processes and accelerate application delivery.
benefits of low-code development
Low-code/no-code development is a term given to a wide range of tools that can be used to develop anything from IT processes to enterprise software. That said, there are a few features that most low-code development platforms have in common, including:
- direct integrations and low-code api accessibility
- drag and drop workflow designers
- workflow testing/prototyping setups
- increased business agilitymost low-code platforms are extensible, providing direct integrations with major vendors and allowing you to convert api’s, web services and command lines into reusable building blocks. this speeds up the time it takes to integrate and implement new tools and technologies, helping businesses stay ahead of the latest automation trends and consumer demands.
- Reduced capex/opexTraditionally, buying a new piece of software is faster than developing an in-house solution. low-code development changes that dynamic. Instead of buying a new tool to coordinate SAP jobs, you can use a low-code platform to quickly assemble the necessary processes. Likewise, instead of spending days or weeks researching, writing, and testing new scripts, you can build those processes in far less time and with far fewer resources.
- less need for shadowingbusiness teams have a habit of deploying and managing software without your consent. the reason for this is always the same: it took too long. By using a low-code development tool to rapidly deploy new processes and applications, you can dramatically reduce the need for shadowing. furthermore, intuitive user interfaces can allow business users to run and monitor processes, while citizen developers/coders can assemble their own applications.
- automate more in less timelow-code platforms with the right devops tools can accelerate the speed of development to automate end-to-end tasks and processes. workflow automations can be triggered based on workflow and business events, templates can be used to quickly develop new processes, while variables and flow control make it easy to manage data across platforms. meanwhile, prebuilt integrations and api accessibility make it possible to automate virtually any digital business process.
- rapid iterationsbusiness needs evolve rapidly. To help meet those needs, low-code development platforms can provide tools that help developers quickly iterate and edit existing processes. for example, pushing changes to child jobs, requesting documentation, and providing revision histories so that changes can be quickly revoked if necessary. test installations can also be used to ensure processes are running correctly when they go into production.
- increased productivityby streamlining the development process and increasing the use of automation, you are able to accomplish more in less time. In addition, low-code applications include tools that simplify the process life cycle. this can include monitoring and alerting capabilities that notify staff when a process is at risk of failure. or, if a server is at capacity, to redirect processes to avoid bottlenecks and delays, or run remediation workflows to maintain slas and minimize the time you spend fighting fires.
Depending on the platform, a low-code development tool may also include monitoring, resource management, and advanced tools that help optimize developments. But whether you’re looking to implement an application development platform or a more expansive solution that unifies business processes, low-code development provides a number of benefits to your organization:
what about existing scripts?
The point of low code is not to replace scripts entirely, unless that is your point. most IT organizations have libraries of scripts that are the product of countless hours of hard work. scripts are reliable, highly effective, and there is no real reason to discard them. in this case, a low-code platform can be used to secure and enhance existing scripts.
Some enterprise solutions designed for low-code process development are scripting language agnostic, allowing them to script end-to-end processes without additional coding. script storage is also common, as it provides a central location from which to store, manage, and protect scripts. audit logs, revision histories, change sets, and automated documentation can all be used to protect and improve those scripts.
low code vs. no code
Low-code and no-code capabilities are often packaged together on the same platform. for example, a low-code process automation solution will provide all the necessary tools and integrations to design processes without having to write custom scripts (no code). but that same solution can also provide a scripting environment and enable it to integrate new or existing code, so that the low-code option remains.
The real difference between low-code and no-code lies in the intended user of the platform: is the platform intended for non-technical staff or people with development skills?
Truly no-code platforms, those solutions that only provide prebuilt actions, are intended for non-IT teams that need limited process or app development (a project management app or a mobile app for a event, etc). there is a place for no code, but explicitly no-code platforms can stifle customization and reduce the number of use cases available to the application.
is the code under the future?
probably. after all, modern computing is based on abstraction. binary is abstracted into languages, languages are abstracted into operating systems and guis. low-code solutions abstract the code that connects those operating systems, databases, and business applications (from bpm to bi, crm to erp). as environments become more complex, the need to abstract those integrations will only grow.
forrester, for example, expects the low-code development market to reach $21 billion by 2022, up from just $2 billion in 2016.
“By 2024, 75% of large companies will use at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.”
Organizations are rapidly adopting new technologies to adapt to rapidly changing markets and heightened expectations around the customer experience. Meanwhile, business leaders are pushing CIOs to develop and lead digital transformation strategies that focus on delivering real-time data to customers and end users.
To meet these needs, IT organizations must be able to rapidly develop, orchestrate, and iterate on processes and applications, and low code is how that’s being achieved.
Ready to see how we make it easy to automate your workload?
Schedule a demo to see our experts run jobs that match your use cases in activebatch. get answers to your questions and find out how easy it is to create and maintain your jobs in activebatch
explore activebatch workload automation
Get more from your workload automation investment