The buzz around "low-code / no code" is growing, but there's a hotly contested debate about whether it's a silver bullet or a recipe for disaster. While low-code platforms promise lightning-fast application development and deployment, they may also be accused of creating simplistic, cookie-cutter applications that lack the nuance and sophistication required by larger enterprises. This could lead to technical debt, stifle innovation, and hamper scalability. Furthermore, the allure of low-code platforms might create a fertile ground for shadow IT, with departments going rogue and creating applications that are at odds with the overall IT strategy of the organisation. In short, while the potential benefits of low-code platforms are undeniable, it's imperative to weigh the pros and cons carefully before jumping on the bandwagon.
Q: What are Low Code Application Platforms?
A: Low-code application platforms (LCAPs) are software development platforms that allow users with varying levels of technical expertise to create custom applications with minimal coding. These platforms typically offer drag-and-drop interfaces, pre-built application components, and visual workflows to simplify the application development process. Faster development time is achieved by the availability of a range of pre-built templates, UI components, and business logic that can be assembled through a visual interface.
Today, we see LCAPs being used to create a wide range of applications, from simple mobile apps to complex enterprise-grade applications, typically to create custom applications quickly to meet specific business needs or address changing market demands.
Using a LCAP, companies can quickly translate business requirements into digital applications, without the need for a big development team or long development cycles. This typically also involves the application pulling data from multiple sources, adding new application logic or functionality, and giving the business the solution or insight, faster and at a lower cost.
“Organisations are increasingly turning to low-code development technologies to fulfil growing demands for speed in application delivery and highly customised automation workflows,” Gartner, 2022.
Q: What is the typical delivery approach for LCAP projects?
A: At LanciaConsult, we have successfully led and delivered various sizes of LCAP projects. Like other technology projects, we often adopt the Agile Development approach during the pilot or prototype phase. This allows for multiple quick iterations to form and conceptualise the idea of the application as we build it. Agile Development enables our teams to respond to changing requirements from stakeholders quickly and flexibly. For instance, we developed a new product for a Marketing Technology (MarTech) company to launch a new digital experience for recruiters using this approach.
However, some organisations prefer to use a more structured approach to development, such as the Waterfall methodology. In such cases, the business requirements and project outcome are clear, and the LCAP serves as a tool to deliver the project with speed and low cost. For example, we recently re-platformed an ageing Order Management Application for a Manufacturing and Distribution organisation in APAC. The new application aimed to automate existing processes, enable better data management through integration and need to continue to work hand-in-hand with their existing SAP ERP, using the Waterfall methodology augmented with elements of the Agile model in the design and build phases of the project.
Q: What are the key differentiators of LCAP compared to Traditional Custom Development or Off-The-Shelf Solutions?
A: There are several key differentiators that set Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) apart from traditional custom development or off-the-shelf solutions:
- Speed to Outcome: LCAPs are designed to accelerate application development by providing pre-built templates and components, drag-and-drop interfaces, and automated coding. This allows organisations to create custom applications in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional custom development.
- Lower Cost: LCAPs can be significantly less expensive than traditional custom development or off-the-shelf solutions, as they require less coding and fewer IT resources. Additionally, many LCAPs offer subscription-based pricing models, which can provide greater cost predictability.
- Improved Flexibility: LCAPs offer greater flexibility than off-the-shelf solutions, as they allow organisations to create custom applications that meet their specific needs and requirements. This can be particularly valuable for businesses with unique or complex workflows or data management needs.
- Ease of use: LCAPs typically offer user-friendly interfaces that enable non-technical users to create custom applications without extensive coding knowledge. This can empower business users to take a more active role in the application development process.
- Scalability: LCAPs are often designed to be scalable, enabling organisations to quickly add new features and functionality as their needs evolve. This can be particularly valuable for growing businesses or organisations with changing market conditions.
Overall, the key differentiators of LCAPs compared to traditional custom development or off-the-shelf solutions are speed, cost, flexibility, ease of use, and scalability. While LCAPs may not be suitable for every organisation or project, they can provide a valuable tool for businesses looking to create custom applications quickly and efficiently.
Q: What are some drawbacks of the Low Code Application Platforms?
A: While Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) offer many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Here are a few:
- Learning curve: While LCAPs are designed to be user-friendly and accessible to non-technical users, there may still be a learning curve for users who are not familiar with the platform. This may require additional training and support to ensure that users are able to effectively use the platform to create custom applications.
- Quality concerns: Rapid development can introduce errors and so requires rigorous testing and quality assurance processes to mitigate this risk. Although LCAP speeds up the development process, rigorous user testing and quality assurance are recommended as with any technology implementation project.
- Limited customization: While LCAPs offer the ability to create custom applications quickly and efficiently, they may not provide the same level of customization as traditional custom development. Some LCAPs may have limitations in terms of the types of applications that can be created or the level of control over user interfaces and functionality. In the platform selection phase, organisations need to weigh the trade-off between faster development cycles, less dependence on developers versus full customisability of the product that is being developed.
- Platform lock-in: Some no-code/low-code platforms are either code generators or require the licensed platform to continue to operate the solution. This added dependency is important to consider when selecting the right LCAP for you.
In short, there are many LCAP options in the market with a wide variety of capabilities. We work with our client to carefully select the right LCAP and define the approach best fit to target outcome, organisation maturity and complexity of the technology landscape.
Q: Why is LanciaConsult the best to deliver a successful LCAP project?
A: We pride ourselves in providing independent, client-centric expertise in technology strategy, solution and data architecture, project management, and business change to our clients. Our approach is to closely collaborate with clients to design and deliver business insights and solutions that are fit for purpose and integrate seamlessly with their technical and data ecosystem, regardless of the solution platform.
Our extensive collective experience in large-scale and complex project delivery, coupled with our technology and data expertise, enables us to make a real impact on our clients' businesses and customers. In short, we are a safe pair of hands with a client-focused mindset.
Our global team has built up extensive experience in Low-Code/No-Code Project Delivery. We have experienced project managers that will help to ensure that your projects are delivered on time and on budget, functional consultants to bridge your business needs with technical solutions, and technical consultants who bring these solutions to life.
One of our notable client experiences includes developing a digital customer experience solution for a global elevator manufacturing company in China. We developed a single digital touchpoint for their customers to access contracts, maintenance schedules, invoices, equipment status, reminders, notifications, and a chat function, replacing previously fragmented and paper-based processes. Our solution also enabled customers to perform e-payments for outstanding invoices, receive real-time notifications of any elevator breakdowns, and track their orders from the factory. The application was made available on WeChat, iOS, and Android platforms, integrated with over 15 data sources, and successfully deployed to over 20,000 users. Our team completed the project within a short timeframe of just 6 months, allowing our client to quickly benefit from the new solution.
If you would like to discuss what Low-Code Application Platforms can do for you, contact us today.