Updated on by Hayley Brown
Low-code has erupted in the past few years and has a strong dominance over the software industry. As a result, businesses have increased their adoption enabling them to build applications faster, improve their competitive edge, and continue the process of integrating digital technologies to transform a business.
So, what is it? Well, it is the ability to build fully functional applications fast and with minimal complex coding. They can be SaaS products, websites and mobile apps built using third-party toolkits. The toolkits tend to lead with the visual development of an application, with graphical drag-and-drop user interfaces. These toolkits can take application ideas from concept, to design and then to commercialisation in a short space of time.
The specific term ‘low-code’ was first coined by the analyst firm Forrester in 2014. At the time it was labelled as a development platform for customer-facing applications as well as the rumblings of a new software trend. Low code is called a movement by Forbes in 2017, which stated that low code and no code as ‘extraordinarily disruptive’.
In the past year, it has exploded, and the growth of the market can be attributed in part to the pandemic. It has forced organisations to step up their digital transformation. It can also be attributed to an increasing pressure on IT to deliver value to not only the businesses but to their end-users as well.
So, how is it shaping the software industry? Well, back in February Gartner forecasted that the worldwide low-code development technologies market would grow by 23% this year alone. The trend is only expected to grow further in 2022. “Low-code application platforms (LCAP) are expected to remain the largest component of the low-code development technology market through 2022, increasing nearly 30% from 2020 to reach $5.8 billion in 2021”.
Low-Code Development Technologies Revenue (Millions of U.S. Dollars)
|Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP)||3,473.50||4,448.20||5,751.60|
|Intelligent Business Process Management Suites||2,509.70||2,694.90||2,891.60|
|Multi experience Development Platforms (MDXP)||1,583.50||1,931.00||2,326.90|
|Robotic Process Automation (RPA)||1,184.50||1,686.00||2,187.40|
|Citizen Automation and Development Platform (CADP)||341.8||438.7||579.5|
|Other Low-Code Development (LCD) Technologies*||59.6||73.4||87.3|
What does the future hold?
The future of web development looks to be low-code and no-code development and Gartner suggests that “by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity”.
Software applications are being created to serve those without a technical coding background, such as citizen developers/integrators. According to TechRepublic, “nearly 60% of all custom apps are now built outside the IT department. Of those, 30% are built by employees with either limited or no technical development skills”. This is to help organisations reduce backlog, decrease costs, improve agility, and create low-code automation.
Types of Low-Code Development Platforms
The different types have been categorised by Forrester into five main categories, or a low-code working model.
OutSystems, recognised by Gartner as a leading low-code platform, has also determined three different industry types of applications. Niche tools, ecosystem tools, and purpose-built application platforms.
According to OutSystems, niche tools have been classed to focus on a specific application challenge. For instance, a streamlined process to capture and store data, or more accessible ways to build a mobile front-end. They tend to exclusively satisfy a single business need. They include business process management (BPM), and no-code technology.
As well as that, Outsystems class ecosystem tools as typically consisting of large software application vendors. They are providing a path for creating greater value in their cloud ecosystems. Again creating solutions for specific business needs.
Finally, purpose-built application platforms. OutSystems describe them as built to address custom application development using low-code. They are not strictly pure low-code but include a similar framework and tools for multi-experience development.
Low Code Use Cases
Applications for Customer-Facing Apps
The impact of low-code is demonstrated in the fact that you no longer need to be a web or app developer to build a website, app or user interface. There is no longer a technical barrier as these applications have provided code solutions to create rich customer experiences. These include tools such as drag-and-drop interfaces. These allow citizen developers to build sites customisable for multiple devices from a single platform.
Low-code application examples include Wix, Squarespace, WordPress and Weebly. All of which have drag-and-drop tools capable of building a highly customisable website or user interface.
As well as building websites and applications, low-code tools have enabled marketers to build and design email campaigns, and adverts in minutes. Using drag and drop functionality. One prominent example of this is MailChimp with its in-app email builder.
Low-Code Integration Platforms for Internal Apps
Low-code applications are used to help improve companies’ core functions. For instance, HR processes, marketing automation and financial data processing. A low code integration platform with relevant tools can be used for data orchestration between SaaS applications. Replacing manual data entry when a new contact or lead has come from a marketing campaign or a contact form. The process can be automatically triggered in an integrated workflow.
Cyclr is a good example of a low-code integration platform. As an embedded iPaaS it allows users to build automated workflows to share data from one or several SaaS applications with drag-and-drop tools. This then creates a connected SaaS ecosystem.
Learn more about Cyclr
Legacy Replacement Apps
Legacy systems can be seen as a hindrance to business development and processes, as well as an organisation’s digital transformation. As such this has become a driving factor in upgrading outdated applications with old code and modernising these systems with low-code technology. In modernising the legacy systems you can align the apps to your specific, and relevant needs.
Low-code development applications tend to have several popular features that enable rapid application development for custom apps, and integrations.
What types of Low-Code are dominating the industry?
Gartner, a leading research establishment, often publishes findings on software developments. Two reports recently covered low-code application platforms, and who they thought were the established leaders in each.
Firstly the ‘MultiExperience Development Platforms Gartner Magic Quadrant – July 2021’ leaders are:
In the second report, ‘Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms Gartner Magic Quadrant – August 2021’ the leaders are as follows:
Gartner’s leaders are well-established software companies and help companies build, develop, deploy, and manage applications with low-code tools, and automation processes. Some are providers of other services to customers as well, such as Salesforce with its well-known CRM software.
The dominance can also be attributed to the numerous different kinds of low-code applications available. From low-code platforms that enable building, testing and deploying applications. To platforms to help manage digital workflows for omnichannel enterprise operations. Depending on the type of software or organisation you are/use there are applications that are tailored to specific organisation needs, niche problems, and dedicated to industry sectors.
Low-Code and Citizen Integrators
Low-code and citizen developers are a movement in reality as the trend has exponentially expanded and will continue to do so. The pandemic, and its aftermath, will continue to fuel the need for low-code applications. As businesses navigate a new streamlined normal for customers and employees.
Forbes notes that “organizations simply cannot spend years trying to get their IT shops in order so that they can compete. Low-code provides a real and proven way for organizations to develop new digital solutions much faster and leapfrog their competitors.”
Low-code and no-code, therefore, go hand in hand with a rise in citizen developers. At the beginning of this year, we made our 2021 SaaS predictions. We predicted that new roles within organisations will be driven by the rise of low and no-code applications and no-code platforms. Creating a workforce of automation architects or citizen developers. Who is able to tackle customer automation and integration requests quickly and efficiently.
Web developers won’t become obsolete, however, there is a shift towards ‘anyone’ being able to design and create web applications, apps, and integration workflows with low-code tools. This is primarily because of the benefits low-code provides. For instance, faster time to market, boosting digital transformation and reducing costs. As well as, increasing productivity and agility, improvising customer experience, and accelerating app development.