Breaking the code: Why no-code platforms are gaining traction with IT and the business

Experts say that agility, user empowerment, efficiencies and other advantages are all possible for adopters of no-code platforms.

low-code development
Visual Generation

No-code and low-code platform adoption has taken off as a way for businesses to accelerate application development. The past year underscored the need for people to quickly build applications and functionality, as organizations scrambled to support remote workforces in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What have we learned about the benefits of using no-code platforms to improve business processes and workflows? That’s the question we posed to members of the IDG Influencer Network, a community of industry analysts, IT professionals, and other experts who contribute their knowledge and expertise to IDG clients. Here are their top takeaways.

Empower business users to be part of the process

The drag-and-drop functionality and visualization aspects of no-code platforms allow individuals with no programming skills to “tap into their creativity without the need to memorize and debug strings of laborious and esoteric code,” says Scott Schober (@ScottBVS), president and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc.

That user-friendly factor empowers those individuals closest to business problems to help solve them, say the Influencers:

“It empowers domain experts who understand the business or processes but lack programming skills.” — Mark Sangster (@mbsangster), author of No Safe Harbor

“It unlocks the potential for anyone, regardless of technical capability, to be able to prototype an idea and test it with potential users. It allows those closest to the problem to create a solution without the barrier of learning all the tech.” — Noelle Silver (@NoelleSilver_), founder of AILI

“Low/no-code platforms enable business analyst experts to directly solve and automate the processes and workflows that they are intimately familiar with, instead of having to articulate those details to a development team, which could result in inefficiencies via ‘lost in translation’.” — Mike D. Kail (@mdkail), CTO

Improve manifold business outcomes

Empowering users to build applications has multiple benefits for the business. Among them: Speed and agility, says Martin Davis (@mcdavis10), CIO.

Other Influencers agree:

“Time to value and time to market. Further, no-code solutions can be quickly updated to meet customer, market, or unexpected needs.” — Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), chief strategy officer and head of consulting at GeekHive

“Benefits include: Ability to quickly and easily turn business improvement ideas into action. Reducing the time to understand business processes since no-code is being used by subject matter experts.” — Arsalan Khan (@ArsalanAKhan), blogger on business and digital transformation

“No-code/low-code platforms can help organizations quickly build solutions in a matter of days, and constantly iterate on those solutions when disruption or changing business conditions occur.” — Deb Gildersleeve (@DebGildersleeve), CIO at QuickBase

In addition, “no-code platforms help in reducing total cost of ownership for systems, thus improving costs and improving business margins,” says Sarbjeet Johal (@sarbjeetjohal), cloud leadership consultant.

Aligning workflows between IT and the business

The right no-code platform has guardrails that help “citizen developers” align with traditional development practices. These tools support “repositories like Git, allowing them to become part of a full CI/CD pipeline,” says Simon Bisson (@sbisson), tech journalist.

Bisson also believes that no-code platforms help fill what he calls the “app gap" between business needs and the available budget and resources. “Allowing business users to develop their own applications to fill their needs vastly increases the resources available, and helps prioritize applications that solve pressing problems,” he says.

In addition, the automation behind no-code platforms reduces inefficiencies and improves quality, according to the Influencers:

“I believe the biggest beneficiaries of low/no-code platforms are going to internal applications/processes. Most no-code platforms are highly abstracted systems that encapsulate security, scale, and consistency. These key attributes help simplify systems and processes, further reducing defects/faults and improving quality of service.” — Sarbjeet Johal

“These platforms also help to eliminate inefficiencies within certain processes in an organization. Where a team might [have relied on] on spreadsheets and other manual systems, a business unit can now automate a mundane process in a matter of days, without contributing to the IT backlog.” — Deb Gildersleeve

“Users don’t have to rely on data scientists for every use case. This frees up the data science team to work on high-ROI projects.” — Vin Vashishta (@v_vashishta), machine learning and AI strategist

“Consider the team that was in the office pre-pandemic, then went remote, and are now contemplating a hybrid work model. They can use a no-code platform to improve their processes and workflows in real time at each stage using unfiltered feedback from their team members.” — Will Kelly (@willkelly), technical marketing manager for a container security startup

“No-code is conducive to end users becoming a more integral part of automation processes because they ARE part of the workflow being coded.” — Frank Cutitta (@fcutitta), CEO and founder of HealthTech Decisions Lab.

There’s also the potential to take advantage of complementary skill sets for creative problem solving, Cutitta says. “No-code could take advantage of right-side-of-the-brain creativity among non-technical stakeholders, which may not be as strong in left-side-of-the-brain developers,” he says.

What lies ahead

Tied to that creative spark, no-code platforms hold the potential to reveal new opportunities to better take advantage of data and emerging technologies:

“No-code platforms enable business domain experts to join the data revolution and contribute to the data-driven ML and analytics victories in the organization without necessarily becoming ML experts themselves.” — Kirk Borne (@KirkDBorne), chief science officer at DataPrime

“Automating workflows and processes that were previously manual provides a new layer of data that can ultimately help everyone across the organization make more informed business decisions and be more agile.” — Deb Gildersleeve

Ultimately, no-code platforms bring democratization to the business of development: “It allows both for simplicity and the inculcation of an end user’s insights and perspectives to optimize processes,” says John Nosta (@JohnNosta), WHO health tech expert.

Learn more about Smartsheet, the enterprise-grade work management platform that aligns global teams, empowers users to build and scale business-driven solutions, and enables IT to manage risk and maintain compliance.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.