There’s a historic change under way in how—and how fast—businesses are creating the digital solutions they need. With the emergence of low-code platforms, more people within the business can build the capabilities to make their jobs easier—and they don’t need advanced technical skills to do it. These low-code platforms are changing the nature of work and the role of IT. Business users can translate their expertise into the digital tools they need faster, and IT can focus more on the governance of the supporting infrastructure, processes, and data. It’s a win-win scenario for users and IT: Innovation accelerates for the business, and IT has more time for strategic projects.
Let’s take a closer look at the low-code phenomenon and how businesses can use it to drive the transformation they want.
Helping business users help themselves
First things first, let’s dispel one of the misconceptions about low-code platforms. These tools don’t replace traditional software developers. Instead, low-code tools expand the range of developers. They democratize the creation of digital solutions. Take robotic process automation (RPA) as an example. A low-code platform allows business users to build the automations that make their jobs easier. Usually, the tools involved don’t require in-depth technical skills and knowledge.
How would a low-code automation platform work in an area such as invoice processing? The invoices your company receives often come in different formats. Key information is in different places, so your AP staff has to go through invoices line by line to find the information they need. Also, you probably receive thousands of invoices each year, which means your AP staff spends a lot of time processing them. To make matters worse, invoices are often scanned and difficult to read. It can take some detective work to separate the “noise” from the meaningful content. But with low-code automation, your AP team could build their own software robots capable of reading invoices, extracting the needed information, and processing the invoices for payment. And with AI, the robots can learn which information is relevant, even in widely differing invoice formats—and they can ask their human co-workers for help when they need it. The AP team spends less time on reading and manually processing invoices, and more on other tasks that add value
Accelerating innovation and adoption
In the past, it could take months for an automation request to land on the to-do list of a skilled developer. A low-code platform cuts that development time dramatically. So it’s no surprise that low-code platforms are gaining in popularity. According to one prediction, 66% of large companies will use at least four low-code platforms by 2024.
Also, we’ve already seen how the speed of low-code development has paid off. The response to the COVID pandemic accelerated the adoption of low-code platforms. Organizations used them to help keep pace with volatile demand and to automate processes in the absence of an onsite workforce. Low-code platforms also helped healthcare organizations automate COVID test reporting on an accelerated timeline. It’s only natural that businesses will want to maintain this efficiency.
Building a framework for smart low-code deployment
Giving your citizen developers the tools to develop their own software robots can unleash innovation across your enterprise. But you’ll still want the governance framework to scale up low-code development in a disciplined and strategic way. By creating a center of excellence (CoE) for your low-code initiative, you can vet the solutions your citizen developers create to ensure they’re ready for wider distribution. Your CoE can help you train people to use low-code tools to align with the enterprise’s goals and strategy. Creativity and insight are great resources, but you still want the discipline and structure to keep everyone focused on the organization’s shared mission.
Freeing IT departments to accomplish more
Let’s end where we started—with the IT department that once had sole responsibility for the digital solutions that enterprise users needed. How do low-code platforms change IT’s role within the enterprise? Because users can create their own automations with low-code platforms, IT departments can respond to business needs quicker, focus more on collaboration, and devote more effort to safeguarding data and processes. They can spend less time addressing a backlog of business user requests and more on the strategic projects that deliver a competitive advantage.
In short, low-code platforms don’t take away the work of IT—they make the work that IT does more valuable.