By David Rosenthal
App development isn’t just for coders anymore.
Low-code software development is one of the biggest stories in tech right now, and it’s poised to have an even more impactful year in 2023.
Simply put, low-code development platforms provide graphical user interfaces and other tools that don’t require a deep understanding of software engineering or even coding skills, so that almost anyone can develop an application. Instead of writing out long strings of complex code, developers can drag and drop icons representing the functions they need as they visually map out how their app will work.
Microsoft has invested heavily in building out its own low-code development tools, which makeup the Microsoft Power Platform.
What’s Included in the Power Platform?
- Power Apps: Web and mobile app development
- Power Automate: Process or workflow automation
- Power Virtual Agents: Chatbots and conversational agents
- Power Pages: Business website development
- Power BI: Analytics and reporting
Why Low-code Is Suddenly Everywhere
One of the major benefits of adopting a low-code development solution like Microsoft Power Platform is that access to the tools for making apps is greatly democratized. Virtually anyone can contribute their ideas and codify their institutional knowledge, regardless of their ability to write software code.
That said, a little knowledge, as the adage goes, can be a dangerous thing. That’s why it’s so important to choose a platform with thorough and potent guardrails to ensure compliance with both internal operating procedures and external regulatory frameworks — for example, by making security features that keep sensitive data away from unauthorized users a default option.
Faster and Cheaper Custom App Development
Another advantage of low-code is endless customizability without the sticker shock or lengthy waiting period associated with developing bespoke apps. There are countless off-the-shelf business software solutions for companies to choose from, and many of them are quite sophisticated and adaptable. Yet, every company has its own unique requirements. Often, even market-leading software can’t fully address them.
Only truly custom-designed applications will perfectly cover their usage case, but that takes a significant investment in time and money. Given the rapid pace of invocation in the marketplace, companies that wait too long often find themselves missing short windows of opportunity and losing ground to faster and more nimble competitors. Low-code allows them to develop what they specifically need in a fraction of the time and cost.
Simpler Cross-platform Development
Mobile accessibility is also driving the adoption of low-code development. For example, solutions like Microsoft Power Platform come with features for developing apps that will work on many different devices built right in. That saves an incredible amount of time when compared to developing a standalone app and then spending even more time adapting and converting it to work on a different device.
There’s another major factor pushing companies to investigate low-code platforms: a rapidly changing workforce. 73% of the modern workforce now says it has had to tackle more tech related challenges independently in the last two years. And independently is a key term here. Many companies lack the resources to provide extensive, personalized, and ongoing support for their entire tech stack and/or their entire workforce. Left to their own devices, employees are forced to construct their own ad hoc workarounds that lack the security and scalability demanded of modern solutions.
Furthermore, 85% of U.S. employees say they prefer an employer that upskills them. Developing app building capabilities without having to learn a new software language is a big value add for employees and the companies they work for.
Responding Effectively to Market Pressures
There’s also the issue of surging digital demand. In the next five years, it’s estimated that 750 million new apps will be created — more than the previous four decades combined. The pace of development is accelerating but will still struggle to keep up without tools like low-code platforms that remove the barriers to entry.
Capitalizing on Intelligent Automation
Organizations are also struggling to manage their data repositories, which are expanding even faster than the portfolio of applications they rely on. More than 85% of companies say they particularly struggle with unstructured data, which is digital information lacking metatags and other descriptors to make it searchable, more easily understood by database systems, and more useful for analytic processes.
It’s analogous to a book of photos with no captions, dates, or other clues as to where, when, or why the pictures were taken, leaving the reader with as many questions as answers. Digital solutions powered by machine learning technologies and AI make the routine and often tedious task of building structured datasets with intelligent automation simple enough even for teams that lack significant digital expertise.
That level of automation translates beyond just data management. It is being applied to diverse problems with increasing effectiveness, which is why it’s estimated that fully half of all digital work activities can be automated with current technology.
Manual data entry, scheduling regular meetings, sending invoices, tracking and reporting expenses, nurturing leads, responding to customer inquiries, and many more common tasks that eat up valuable manpower — but which don’t leverage your team’s unique skills — can all be either partially or completely automated with minimal disruption to operations and at lower cost than ever before.
Automation that only multinational enterprises once possessed is now so accessible and affordable that organizations of every size, including small and medium-sized businesses, are taking advantage of it. And that progress hasn’t come a moment too soon because the desire for new digital products continues unabated and is outpacing the supply of talented and experienced software developers. It’s estimated that by 2025, there will be four million fewer available developers than required to meet market demand.
Ready to Start Building?
Razor Technology can kickstart your low-code development journey — or kick it into high gear, if you’ve already begun.
We can help you identify optimal use cases, quantify the value Microsoft’s Power Platform can unlock for your organization, instill enterprise-grade security and regulatory compliance into your development operations, guide your team on the complete feature set in Power Platform, and embrace a citizen developer culture.
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