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The lowdown on low-code platforms and how to choose the right one

Two Brightspot developers working together

When the low-code platform market first began to explode, developers were afraid. They feared that low-code platforms would replace their jobs and had concerns they weren’t suited to handle mission-critical tasks. But neither of these fears materialized. In fact, most low-code platforms are very reliable tools that support developers in their ability to respond quickly and be more agile. In 2018, we believe these platforms will become increasingly critical to the success of development teams.

Forrester defines low-code platforms as, “Platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with minimum hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.” In today’s digital-first environment, companies want to be increasingly responsive, which has been a huge driver in the growth of the low-code platform market.

One developer recently wrote, “For a growing number of business concerns, low-code is the way forward. It’s a streamlined development process faster than any that’s come before it...Businesses need to change at a rate that can keep up with competitors, vendors, and the modern consumer’s fleeting stream of impatient desires.”

Low-code platforms empower development teams to play a vital role in enabling businesses to change quickly, with minimal mistakes. According to Salesforce’s Top Trends in Low-Code Development, “Low-code development has the potential to transform the critical relationship between IT and business units and empower quick innovation in a new digital era.”

To low-code or not

Low-code platforms become incredibly valuable for development teams that are pressured to turn around sprints and projects at lightning-speed. Though there is still a place for hand coding, low-code solutions increase productivity because they automate both simple and complex tasks (e.g. writing boilerplate code), empowering dev teams to work smarter and faster.

Low-code platforms are especially beneficial to both development and business teams because they:

  • Are more cost effective
  • Enable rapid time-to-market by streamlining the development and implementation of both ideas and technology
  • Empower business users to make changes to digital strategies, since development expertise isn’t often required
  • Place a lighter operational burden on development and IT teams because vendors handle hosting and maintenance, also easing the burden of IT backlogs

In the same report, Salesforce found that 63 percent of IT leaders “believe that low-code development will positively impact the software development cycle, enabling business users to deploy applications more quickly.” The synergy created between business users and IT to deliver applications more quickly allows companies to pivot and adapt to market changes.

Finding the right low-code platform

Not all low-code platforms are created equally. Some low-code platforms are packed with features, but because of inflexible architecture, prevent companies from customizing the platform to meet their business needs or develop necessary integrations that don’t come out-of-the-box.

When evaluating new low-code platforms, ask the following questions before making a purchase decision:

  • Can the platform support our workload?
  • Does the platform have a strong support community actively maintained by partners or the platform architects?
  • Is this platform interoperable and can it support the integrations we need?
  • Is the architecture of the platform flexible enough to evolve and scale with our changing business needs?

If the answers to any of the above questions are “no,” it’s best to move on. Companies should invest in low-code platforms that offer great functionality out-of-the-box, but can integrate within established tech stacks and be customized if needed. This alleviates the need for development hacks, which ultimately defeat the purpose of the investment in these types of platforms.

The market for low-code platforms is diverse and growing because they expedite the transformation of companies into fully digital businesses. Because the market is maturing, development teams shouldn’t be concerned that low-code platforms will replace them or that they can’t deliver on mission-critical tasks. Rather, both development and business teams should embrace low-code platforms as useful tools that empower them to keep up with changing market and customer demands. Low-code platforms allow development and business teams to start, finish and customize later, which is our favorite motto at Brightspot. We believe flexible and interoperable low-code platforms are invaluable to development teams.

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