You’ve most likely spent a good deal of time and budget on hiring the perfect software engineers to build the tools and applications to help make your business run smoothly and efficiently. Those developers might specialize in one or more languages to make it possible to build what you need and what might be necessary to expand your offerings.
But then comes along a new paradigm that, on the surface, could challenge the idea that you even need those developers in the first place. That paradigm is called low-code/no-code and with more and more businesses offering such solutions, it’s looking like it has some traction.
Is low-code/no-code a viable option for your business? For some companies, it might well be a great solution, but it’s not for everyone.
Let’s dig into this idea.
What is Low-Code?
First, let’s take a look at low-code. Low-code is exactly what you think it is: A programming method that requires engineers to write less code than they traditionally would. This is achieved using a visual declarative approach to development that involves abstracting and automating every step of the application lifecycle.
The benefits of low-code development are enticing, as you can achieve very fast time-to-market with your deliverables. Your developers can also build more at-scale applications and services and deliver continuous improvements to end users more easily. Finally, with low code, you are shaping a brand new method of development that breaks down silos and empowers developers to collaborate across organizations.
Low-code projects are similar to traditional software projects, but because of their shortened life cycle, they fit in with CI/CD quite well. Thanks to that rapid development time and a very cloud-centric nature, low-code helps businesses to remain agile. There’s less coding on the part of your developers, so they can deliver faster and pivot their projects fairly quickly.
But low-code isn’t all pros. There are 3 very crucial downfalls of low-code you must be aware of:
- Shadow IT: Low-code has a nasty habit of creating shadow IT, which is when an individual or team of developers uses a tool that isn’t approved by the business. Not only is this a waste of business resources, but it can also become a security issue.
- Vendor lock-in: Most low-code platforms depend on a single (or small collection) of vendors. Once you go down that road, it’s hard to exit. You could find your entire business delivery platform tied to a single vendor. What happens if that vendor goes under?
- Lack of customization: Low-code platforms tend to prevent your developers from doing much in the way of customization. If your business has very specific needs or wants to craft highly customized applications and services, low-code solutions could be very limiting.
What is No-Code?
No-code takes low-code one step further and makes it possible for developers (and even non-developers) to create application software entirely through a graphical interface (GUI). With no-code, you can build applications without writing a single line of code: You simply drag-and-drop pre-built elements together to create your application.
This solution can be very appealing to small businesses that have no (or little) budget to hire software engineers. Think about it, you wouldn’t have to spend crucial funds on developers and still be able to deliver applications to either your customers or your staff.
Like low-code, no-code has some pros (including higher agility, lower cost, and increased productivity), but the cons should be pretty obvious.
One of the biggest downfalls is that you are severely limited to what you can build. No-code services offer templates to make the process easier, but those templates can only be configured to meet certain use-cases. If you have a use-case outside the bounds of what the platform offers, you’re out of luck.
Along those lines, those who build the no-code apps must have a very solid understanding of what’s required for an application. You can’t go into a no-code solution with general ideas. Without a high level of specificity, you’ll have trouble building an app that will meet your expectations.
Finally, with no-code, you don’t own your source code. You could spend days building a no-code app and, in the end, none of the things you’ve written are yours.
Who Should Consider Low-Code/No-Code?
Large businesses who need very specialized tools, who also have large budgets and want to own their code, should completely avoid no-code. However, those same businesses who are looking to get into agile, CI/CD development, might be good with low-code solutions.
No-code solutions are best suited for businesses who are looking for simple, out-of-the-box tools that require/offer minimal customization. No-code is also very well suited for small businesses that don’t have the budget to hire developers but still need a (somewhat) customized solution.
In the end, businesses must choose the solution that best suits their long-term goals. Don’t opt for the immediate solution without giving it plenty of consideration as to how it could lock your business into a single vendor and leave you unable to shift as need and demand changes.