5 reasons software architects should embrace low code

From avoiding technical debt to simplifying and integrating business processes to unlocking monolithic systems, low code offers speed and flexibility.

5 reasons software architects should embrace low code

Software developers and architects were once justifiably skeptical of low-code technologies, but today, many mature low-code platforms enable agile development teams to improve productivity, increase quality, and deploy frequently. Developers use low-code technology to build apps, customer experiences, portals, search experiences, workflow integrations, data pipelines, data streams, dashboards, test automations, machine learning models, and other solutions.

Brian Platz, co-CEO and cofounder of Fluree, explains why there was major interest in low-code tech this year and why this will continue. “Low code as a concept is powerful, and its use will continue to grow in 2022. It frees up IT resources, provides business departments with highly custom software, and ultimately supports ongoing digital transformation. However, it must be built on scalable data platforms and strict governance models. Otherwise, the plethora of custom apps can become a data silo nightmare.”

Platz notes several software architecture concerns, which should be factors when selecting low-code platforms. But there are also many benefits, and low code can address some of the long-term architecture pain points, especially for businesses that develop and support many custom applications. I consulted with other thought leaders and experts and share these insights on why technology organizations should embrace low-code solutions in their enterprise architectures.

Avoid creating technical debt

According to research on the growing threat of technical debt, enterprises devote more than 40% of IT budgets to addressing technical debt rather than running operations or building new capabilities. The two most critical issues cited were turnover in the development team and too many development languages and frameworks.

Low-code solutions tend to be visual programming paradigms that can be easier to understand and maintain when new developers are assigned to provide support. Also, low-code platforms tend to have APIs and other standard ways to extend and interface with code, making it easier to find and trace the application flow.

Jay Parnau, senior technical success manager at OutSystems, says low code also simplifies production support. “Half my time as a developer before using low code was spent avoiding making new tech debt or being on call in case someone else’s mistakes brought a system down at 2 a.m. I can build software faster with low code. I know the platform’s got my back in terms of doing things the right way, and maintenance is a fraction of the job it used to be.”

Create new employee experiences rapidly

Rosaria Silipo, PhD, principal data scientist and head of evangelism at KNIME, explains how low-code platforms can help simplify communications and requirements gathering, leading teams to build employee experience and workflow applications faster. She says, “Low-code tools are easier when trying to communicate with other departments. A low-code, visual programming–based tool could be your answer to communicating with less code-equipped departments. By using low-code tools, professionals can save precious time, which can be dedicated to other problems, including those requiring coding.”

Gloria Ramchandi, senior director of product at Copado, agrees and says low code also helps development teams meet the business demand for building and modernizing applications. She adds, “Senior developers and architects have had to keep up with the growing demand from the business to build software faster. Breaking down the code barrier with low-code platforms helps teams decrease the time to market of important builds and increase the speed of innovation.”

Simplify workflow and data integrations

If building apps is easy, how can architects avoid app silos? How can low code help integrate workflows between apps, software as a service, and enterprise systems?

Chris Smith, developer advocate at Retool, recognizes this integration challenge. “The business software world is increasingly fragmented, with hundreds of vertical-specific cloud applications that help every functional area of a business to operate more efficiently. As this happens, these applications need integration into more and more business workflows that are custom to each business. Developers embrace low-code platforms as they provide fast, functional building blocks that solve this fragmented integration problem.”

It’s not just workflow integration. Architects must also consider how to interface with the growing number of data sources. Silipo says that low code can be an easy way to connect to multiple data sources: “Data sources are owned by different vendors and often do not offer standard access patterns. A low-code tool might take this task over and offer standardized, easy access to many different data sources.”

Automate more business processes

While organizations invest in improving employee experiences and integrating workflows, it’s also important to automate steps in the business process. Mahesh Rajasekharan, CEO of Cleo, says that low code is another option for increasing what can be automated and reducing manual processes.

Rajasekharan says that the pandemic was a wake-up call to many business and technology leaders. “One of the key learnings from the COVID-19 lockdowns is recognizing how many manual business processes there still are at many companies and seeing how that hindered their business during the pandemic. In order to achieve a new level of automation, firms will embrace low-code technologies to allow them to automate anything and everything to eliminate risks and gaps in their core revenue-producing processes.”

Accelerate digital transformation by unlocking monolithic systems

What has historically blocked technology organizations from improving employee experiences, simplifying workflows, increasing the number of integrated data sources, and automating more business processes?

Although general technical debt is a challenge, monolithic systems are the hard-to-move boulders. How can architects ensure that what gets developed today is easier to maintain, support, and extend to future business needs?

Developing microservices and deploying serverless architectures are possible approaches, but most organizations can’t afford to apply these architectures to every business need. Zeev Avidan, OpenLegacy chief product officer, suggests that low code offers an alternative approach that can be a paradigm shift for IT.

Avidan says, “Low code and no code can help revolutionize all aspects of IT, from the front-end application development all the way to the most complex legacy integrations. For many developers, a major hurdle in digital transformation (both from end-user experiences and creating a truly digital workplace) is the challenge of democratizing access to the data and business logic that resides in monolithic core systems.”

There’s no doubt that organizations driving digital transformations have growing application development, integration, and automation needs. Low-code platforms allow architects to extend the enterprise’s development capabilities by using pro-code options for the most strategic business cases and low code as an accelerator for other business needs.

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