Technological disruptions continue to redefine the CIO role within corporations. As innovators and value creators, CIOs are charged with managing developments like low-code/no-code (LCNC), which is revolutionizing user-generated innovation by enabling people with little to no coding experience, or “citizen developers,” to quickly and easily deliver new capabilities on demand without having to rely on established development teams.
We are experiencing an undeniable shift toward this kind of democratized technology. Industry research shows that in 2021, LCNC platforms accounted for 75% of new app development, and Accenture’s own research says that 60% of LCNC users expect their use of the platform to increase. But sustaining this type of development in a declining talent market isn’t easy.
With nearly one in five business leaders experiencing constraints due to the decline in tech talent, CIOs need to look beyond their traditional pool of IT professionals to a broader community, and cultivate and nurture new talent networks that bring together citizen developers with their professional counterparts.
As the borders between business and IT blur, there’s a massive opportunity for forward-thinking CIOs to rethink how they work and lead their organizations, and accepting LCNC platforms to operate smarter and faster achieves sharp breakthrough gains in corporate profitability and efficiency.
What’s accelerating LCNC adoption
The main areas fueling LCNC adoption are ease of use, ease of integration with existing solutions and technologies, and faster value creation. Corporations are under pressure to innovate and solve problems quicker, and those that focus on delivering experiences outperform their peers by six times in year-on-year profitability over one, three, five and seven years. So how do SMBs utilize LCNC platforms and stay relevant among larger businesses?
Tech waves have shown to accelerate SMB business growth, and LCNC will have an equal, if not larger, impact on SMBs. Today, there’s a growing set of SMBs utilizing LCNC delivering value in every facet of the business by enabling and simplifying everything from customer acquisition to back-end processes. This comes at a time when SMBs are looking for ways to compete and differentiate against larger companies and other SMBs.
There are three factors that make LCNC relevant for SMBs in today’s business environment:
Digital maturity as a competitive necessity: More than 70% of small businesses worldwide are accelerating digitization, and 93% say COVID-19 made them more reliant on technology.
Challenging access to digital talent: One in five SMBs surveyed said their LCNC platform search was driven by the scarcity of digitally fluent staff.
Enterprise IT solutions do not meet SMB needs: Up to 47% of SMBs think enterprises don’t understand the challenges they face and movement towards LCNC illustrates that point.
New people are engaging with technology within the enterprise and broader ecosystems, and “bring your own” is fast becoming “make your own” as citizen developers take advantage of rapidly advancing LCNC tools.
Embracing a new operating model
Putting the power into people’s hands requires careful management. LCNC operating models must simultaneously balance the need of innovation, stabilization, and scaling for the business and technology so the CIO and IT teams can better enable crucial business change and innovation, rather than act as technological gatekeepers.
CIOs should also think of capabilities falling into different categories, particularly those that are customer-facing, enterprise-wide or departmental. This categorization will help determine optimum team structures, like determining the right mix between new citizen developers and pro-code developers within the IT organization.
Plus, there’s a need to create new engagement models to enable better collaboration with CISOs and chief data officers for security and data governance. To do so, those teams must have clear roles and responsibilities to deliver user experience and foster innovation. The technology portfolio should also be segmented to work within the new model by evaluating existing applications to be migrated into LCNC.
Another model includes creating a new pool of funding for innovation with LCNC. CIOs should take charge in this way and drive LCNC platform providers to expose more of the inner workings of the platform, create joint options for supporting the citizen developers, and simplify the effort to address CISO’s concerns.
Over time, CIOs need to develop operating models by balancing a mix of pro-code and citizen developers within LCNC platform providers to drive maturity. CIOs will continue to be the guardians of technology, but they must become stewards and co-innovators as well, guiding others, including citizen developers, to realize the promise of innovation at scale. This change requires new operating models designed to support co-innovation, enable personal productivity, and ensure that access to data by LCNC platforms is managed and backed by robust governance and security. Companies with a clear approach to LCNC that empower their people with the right tools and systems will achieve innovation at the next level and beyond.
Sriram Sabesan, senior manager, Technology Strategy, Software and Platforms at Accenture also contributed to this article.