Bridging the gap with low-code

Jack Welch of GE famously said: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.

The rapid pace of change in the modern business era is forcing companies to be flexible and adapt at a scale not witnessed before. To gain more IT agility and keep up with this pace, low-code is increasingly being adopted as a means to cushion the massive shortage of skilled software developers while ensuring the necessary innovation to deliver application development customised to particular business needs. A one-size-fits-all approach to technology is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

This realisation is not only becoming apparent to companies, but also to users interacting with technology on a daily basis. My journey from RPA to a more holistic understanding of low-code platforms is a manifestation of this awareness.

 

Discovering RPA

As is the case with most new trends, many did not fully appreciate or understand the underpinnings of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) when it first started to gain traction. Are physical robots coming to overtake all forms of manual labour, and is my next job interview now going to be conducted by recruiter bots?

Others were highly sceptical about its technical value as RPA just seemed to be another basic web scraping tool; a trend we had seen many times before.

Fast forward to today: intelligent automation is on the rise and considered by experts to potentially have the same impact on the workflows of knowledge workers as industrialisation has had on the working class! More and more are realising the benefits and use cases of robotics; the global robotic process automation market size was valued at USD 1.89 billion in 2021 and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.2% from 2022 to 2030.

The first time I stumbled upon RPA, I was intrigued by how intuitive, visual and customisable drag-and-drop platforms could be. Compared to the complex logic, syntax and frameworks I was getting accustomed to while studying to become a developer, these programmable software bots were delivering the same results by performing the exact same tasks as human workers. They both filtered, migrated and moved data or mimicked the same mouse actions and movements as a user on a computer, all by following some pre-defined rules and steps using simple building blocks!

I quickly experienced how RPA was delivering value by optimising repetitive and tedious manual processes for users in both the private and public sectors. However, many were also experiencing how undefined business flows with high complexity and exceptions that involved too many decision points were a bad fit for automation. You might end up trying to automate a highly inefficient business process not worth the time or investment! And herein lies a pitfall, as reported by Gartner:

“There is a lack of guidance helping organizations to assemble robotic process automation (RPA) with other tools. This hinders end-to-end process automation, causing these organizations to miss out on strategic business values.”

As these software bots are performing simple rule-based tasks, even minor changes or updates to the user interface can cause a bot to require routine maintenance. This will further complicate the flexibility to adapt and give rise to concerns about which parts of the business would be affected next time.

It was around this time I was introduced to the idea of how the same underlying technology could be used to solve this dilemma by abstracting and automating the whole software development lifecycle.  Low-code has the potential to provide a single integrated platform covering the whole delivery cycle – design, build, deploy, manage and iterate – without limiting the scope of the build phase to only cover individual and specific tasks.

 

Low-code at Valcon

When I started as a senior specialist at Valcon, I was introduced to several leading low-code platforms such as Mendix, Microsoft Power Platform and Appian. I experienced how the same intuitive, visual and customisable approach to software development was being utilised as a tool not only for automating existing processes but also for re-imagining them. As businesses are constantly evolving and changing, these platforms are offering the necessary flexibility to build end-to-end solutions without being limited by the barriers of legacy systems.

At Valcon, I am experiencing how these applications are replacing clients’ inefficient processes by delivering solutions in close collaboration with the users. Using the same tools – variables, objects, databases, APIs, extendibility, security, deployment, etc. – and the same techniques and principles, low-code applications are achieving the same complex results as any modern programming language, but with a significantly lower development time and fewer resources!

Just as with RPA, low-code is here to stay and will remain an increasing part of core business applications. The International Data Corporation (IDC) claims that by 2023, the low-code movement will yield 500 million new apps – that is more than in the previous 40 years combined. I have no doubt that the rapid adoption of low-code development will continue to deliver a wide range of benefits to businesses, IT departments and individual employees going forward.

 

Read more about low-code and our other technology services on our website. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you and your organisation with low-code development, you are welcome to reach out to:

Yones El Bana

Yones.El.Bana@valcon.com