The low-code movement is as old as the term “computer programming.” In 1951, Grace Hopper developed the first compiler. It was one of the first movements toward using “less code.” Before that, however, instructing computers was a rather demanding task. It started with changing physical gears to execute calculations in Charles Babbage’s difference engine. Next, in 1942, the US government replaced that with ENIAC, which used presets and rewired switches (electric signals).
Subsequently, in 1945, John Von Neumann, the director of the Electronic Computer Project at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, came up with two concepts that would go on to play a significant role in the development of modern programming languages. These were the “shared-program technique” and “conditional control transfer.”
Based on these concepts, the first computer language for electronic devices – the shortcode language – came into being in 1949. However, it required developers to manually change their statements into binary, the 1s and 0s, that computers could understand. That is when Grace Hopper’s compiler opened the door to faster programming.
If anything, all this only proves that developers have been looking to abstract their ideas to higher-level languages since the beginning of programming. It was not until the explosive growth of the internet, however, that the need for applications development at a breakneck speed surged. Businesses sought languages that were easy enough to facilitate that. What we call “low-code” is the latest iteration in this trajectory towards higher abstraction.
The Beginnings Of “Low-Code”
Forrester coined the term “low-code” in 2014 to describe platforms that focused on simple, high-quality, and faster application development. Despite this, you’d be surprised to find that the beginning of modern low-code dates back to tools created in the 90s and early 2000s.
In his 1982 book, Applications Development Without Programmers, James Martin discussed the shrinking programmer talent pool. He wrote, back then, that “computers, in the future, must be put to work, at least in part, without programmers.”
Fast forward to the 1990s. Tools like Visual Basic, Delphi, and Oracle Forms grew popular because they allowed users to visually assemble desktop applications. Also, Rapid Application Development, RAD, began to pick up momentum. Other tools also pitched solutions to the increasing demand for new applications.
While the early RAD concept focused less on requirements and more on an iterative approach, true, modern, low-code platforms, like Visual LANSA, came out of this cohort of development tools.
What Industries Are Using Low-Code Today?
The software development industry is the obvious low-code use candidate. This is especially true given the low-code concept itself originated from the need to accelerate application development. Most software developers are, however, skeptical about it because they fear that no-code and low-code tools will one day take their jobs.
Of course, this is far from true!
For many years, software development teams have known only one route to achieve their goals. That route is “traditional” development. This method often involves elaborate and complex processes. What it does not involve is agility. Agility is an essential condition for success in today’s environment, especially where businesses constantly seek innovations to improve workflow and delivery.
As a result, no software development team has the time for elaborate processes. Consequently, low-code development platforms enable developers to accelerate high-quality product development and ultimately boost productivity, not to replace them.
That said, many software development teams have increased their efficiency and output by using low-code for internal applications — tools used within an organization to facilitate business operations.
According to research, the average employee uses about eight apps. That value increases over 10X in larger enterprises. Development teams continually build internal applications to enable seamless workflows in today’s constantly changing technological environments. Since low-code offers speed at a low cost, many companies in the software development industry are leveraging it to ensure efficiency. Teams should spend precious development time on profit-centers rather than cost-centers within the business.
E-commerce is a perfect candidate for low-code. This is because a wide range of businesses share similar requirements.
The coronavirus pandemic changed the world in many ways. It introduced a new necessity to the E-commerce industry — that of rapidly adapting to constant market changes. E-commerce is no longer a way to gain a competitive edge, but a prerequisite for survival. The drastic decline in physical, in-store activity means that E-commerce brands have to provide a quality online customer experience. They can only do this by quickly adapting to changing consumer needs. As a result, low-code is a handy tool for eCommerce brands that need to quickly create easy-to-manage online solutions that empower customer-brand interaction.
In addition to the sale of products, the e-commerce industry constantly pursues digital transformation to ensure maximum efficiency. Some of these processes include order fulfillment, mobile tracking, and customer management. To achieve this cost-effectively, businesses leverage low-code platforms.
Most new businesses start as low-code first and build out software once they establish their business model. This is brilliant because it avoids wasted time getting to market when the founders haven’t actually created the end product. Even software-focused businesses are being built this way. A great example is the coding bootcamp Lambda School. This was created with no code and low-code tools. It made millions and had developers on staff before they even started coding.
Existing businesses increasingly desire to be digital-ready, agile, data-driven, and first to market. This is especially true after the pandemic. The adoption of low-code tools has surged in many businesses today because CIOs now focus on being pacesetters rather than followers. They are rapidly adapting to business changes with stand-out solutions. Since this is what low-code offers, most businesses leverage it for digital transformations.
The education sector is the fourth low-code candidate on this list. Teachers and administrators in education have started building their tools as the politics within schools and school districts allow improvement only at a glacial pace.
With most governments urging schools to reopen under strict COVID-19 guidelines, institutions also face enormous pressure to safely coordinate staff and students alike. Most are turning to low-code to build quick websites or platforms that help assess a student’s COVID 19 status. A great example of this is the University of South Florida. It leveraged a low-code platform to develop its “CampusPass” site, where it centrally manages the health and safety of the entire institution.
In addition, low-code empowers those closest to education to make and tweak tools in real-time, thereby rapidly reducing delivery and development time and costs.
Banking and Finance
Both the banking and finance industry suffer from terrible user experiences. Large monolithic and difficult-to-break apart systems are the root cause of this. Both sectors, however, use low-code to chip away at these monoliths by offering smaller applications.
The banking and finance sectors also see low-code solutions as a way to provide a better customer experience and meet customer demand. The need for financial institutions to develop internal solutions continues to increase and low-code solutions help in this regard. In a recent SalesForce survey, 96% of the IT managers said they could not sustain traditional coding given the current demand for apps.
A great example of low-code in the banking and finance industry is Academy Bank in Kansas City. IT staff there developed an internal application that reduced their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) process to five hours using a low-code platform.
Also, banks that struggled to keep up with COVID 19 induced changes are turning to low code platforms to ensure rapid adaptation to future changes.
This post has been submitted by the team at LANSA. Find out more about transforming your organization using low-code. Check out Virtual LANSA today and learn how we can kickstart your business process development.
Featured Image: Joan Gamell, Unsplash.