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8 Min Read

How To Get Started With A Low-Code Application Development Journey

May 11, 2021 / Unisys Corporation

The past year has required a lot of change and adjustment. More employees now work remotely, and I doubt that any company will have much more than half of their workforce coming into the office any time soon. These individuals need access to information and other resources so that they can do their jobs.

This has increased the drive to make things accessible and easy to use via mobile and other devices, prompting IT and operations leaders to introduce more software applications. Yet software development has traditionally been a heavy lift. Experts typically use a programming language—such as Python, Java or C++ to write and various tools to test and iterate—often over long timelines.

Low-code platforms now allow for rapid application development with a minimum amount of hand-coding—increasing your agility and enabling you to release new capabilities virtually overnight. Software engineers can spend less time debugging convoluted syntax and more time on polishing business logic. Low-code platforms are simple yet powerful, meaning personnel from various disciplines and junior engineers can work side by side with senior coders in an application development project with very short release cycles.

That’s why low-code platform adoption is growing fast. Forrester Research forecasts that spending on low-code platforms will reach $21.2 billion by 2022. Meanwhile, Gartner expects the worldwide low-code market to reach $13.8 billion this year—an increase of 23% from 2020.

Here are four tips to get started with low-code platforms.

Set the proper expectations.

Gartner explains that a low-code application platform (LCAP) can support rapid, one-step deployment, execution and management of applications using declarative, high-level programming abstractions based as model-driven and metadata-based models. Low-code’s visual and declarative capabilities let you release capabilities more quickly so you can get to your desired business outcomes faster. You can iterate on your releases much more quickly, too.

But be aware that low code is not necessarily the answer to everything.

Think through exactly what you are trying to address. For example, you may want to use a low-code platform to create and iterate on a dashboard or a front-end visualization for a mobile front-end linked to your cloud-native applications. But you may find that using low code is not the best approach for back-end operations, which traditionally exist on-premises or in a private cloud.

Consider a hybrid strategy.

You may want to build a hybrid strategy that leverages a low-code platform for your front-end interface and middleware, and a more traditional development for your back-end efforts.

It all depends on the extent to which the low-code platform you are using can address the scalability and responsiveness that your application requires. For example, my company’s digital workspace services might generate four million API calls in the matter of an hour. At the same time, we need to keep the response time down to seconds, which requires scalability.

Your back-end systems tend to be rich in capabilities that need to be carefully addressed. You need to make sure your data flow meets your security and compliance requirements. You have to ensure that low code doesn’t impede your ability to manage your code. If your code has dependencies on systems using Linux that are more legacy, low code may not be appropriate.

Figure talent into the equation.

Low code gives you the speed and agility to release as soon as possible. From a development perspective, you can look at this from two persepectives. One is that you need to expend less effort on development and coding. On the other hand, if you’re at the development leadership level, you can use the same set of resources to deliver a lot more capabilities than before.

Establish your goals before embarking on your low-code journey.

Get your lead developers involved with the low-code platform, and keep your junior developers focused on more traditional development. This may seem counterintuitive. But your time to market is very short with a low-code platform. So, you’ve got to make sure that if you’re coming out with a release essentially overnight—and don’t have QA cycles—you are getting things right.

Appoint a lead engineer who can visualize the development flow, because it’s on a fast track now. This technical leader will also know what outcome your organization expects from this work. Plus, senior engineers can identify what they need that is not included in your catalog of low-code development assets. They can then request those assets or enhancements from your low-code platform supplier or develop and add the needed assets to your catalog.

Don’t get left behind.

Low code is a revolutionary new development in business and technology. That’s why many of the largest and most important software companies—from Google to Microsoft to Oracle to ServiceNow—now offer low-code platforms as part of their solution portfolios.

Gartner expects most large organizations will have adopted multiple low-code tools in some form by year’s end. This means that your competitors may already use low-code platforms to move quickly, fail fast and manage their budget more intelligently.

Those that do will be more responsive, deliver better customer experiences and enjoy greater business success. Organizations that resist joining the low-code movement will be left behind. If you haven’t yet become part of the low-code revolution, now is the time.