Definition, platform features, benefits and use cases of low-code
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Jens Dressler
Founder & CEO

Low-code platforms are becoming increasingly popular due to an increasing business appetite for automation. According to the Gardner hype cycle for cloud platform services, low-code application development platforms (LCAP) will grow significantly in the upcoming years. Gartner predicts that a whopping 70% of new applications developed by organizations will use low-code or no-code technologies by 2025.

Abbreviations like LCNC, LCDP, LCAP, and NCDP are floating around the industry, and an ever-increasing number of platforms are popping out in the space. As there is no standard of what low-code entitles, it becomes less and less clear what a low-code platform is and when it is time to jump on the hype train.

So, in this article we will look into what low-code is and how it can benefit your organization? Let's find out.

What is low-code?

Typically a low-code application development platform (LCAP) provides a graphical user interface for developing application software, mainly without the need for hand-written programming code. However, the interface for developing apps varies significantly between platforms as they often only address a niche use case that might require a specialized user interface.

In contrast to no-code platforms, general-purpose LCAPs allow developers to inject some custom code to augment the default behavior of the app they are developing. Another vital feature is the plug & play integration with 3rd party tools or APIs for creating more complex workflow automation logic across LCNC platforms. With the arrival of generative AI, some next-generation low-code platforms even feature a machine learning-assisted approach to app development.

Low-code/no-code use cases include business process automation, workflow management, app development, document processing, data management, visualization, and reporting.

Although the low-code model empowers business professionals to (co-)create internal or external business and process automation apps, there are concerns among CIOs and CTOs about data security, scalability, and the increase of the so-called shadow IT.

Common Low-code platform features

To be considered a low-code platform, it must include one or more of the following features:

1. Model-Driven Development Approach

At the heart of most low-code platforms lies a model-driven development approach where low-code developers design their application's business logic using no-code data model builders instead of writing code. By abstracting away technical complexities, developers can focus on the application's logic and functionality, expediting the development process.

2. Integration with Existing Systems

Seamless integration with existing systems is a hallmark of low-code platforms. These platforms facilitate connectivity with various data sources, APIs, and third-party applications, enabling a cohesive ecosystem where data flows freely, and systems work harmoniously.

3. Automated Code Generation

Low-code platforms leverage automation to generate a significant portion of the underlying code. Automation dramatically reduces the time and effort required for deploying cloud infrastructure. Developers can shift their focus from bootstrapping infrastructure and trying to master vendor-specific frameworks to crafting business logic to innovate their business.

4. No-code Data Management

A vital component of modern low-code platforms is a no-code data management layer, which empowers developers and business professionals to manage data with the familiarity of a spreadsheet-like interface. This intuitive approach allows for seamless importing, manipulation, and visualization of data without delving into complex database queries or intricate data structures.

5. Collaboration Features

Low-code platforms promote collaboration through shared development environments and real-time collaboration tools. Team members can work on the same project, providing instant feedback and fostering a culture of collective creativity. This dynamic approach enhances communication and accelerates the application's time-to-market.

6. Security and Administration

Security remains paramount in the digital age, and low-code platforms address this concern by offering robust security features. These platforms incorporate authentication, access control, and data encryption mechanisms to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of applications and their underlying data.

Why low-code?

We learned that low-code platforms enable a new approach to software development allowing faster app delivery with minimal coding required. As a result, business professionals or citizen developers can (co-)develop applications without being roadmapped by understaffed IT departments. However, seasoned developers can also benefit from low-code platforms helping them to achieve more by eliminating the need to write boilerplate code or focus on undifferentiating tasks.

Three main reasons have fueled the growing adoption of low-code:

  • Need for Speed: development cycles become shorter and shorter, and businesses scramble to keep up with growing customer demands.
  • The SaaS movement: in recent years, many SaaS platforms have emerged for specific use cases.
  • Developer Shortage: the fight for developer talent has made it more difficult than ever to adequately staff engineering departments.

Faster Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has evolved from an option to a necessity for businesses aiming to stay competitive. Low-code platforms expedite this journey by slashing development time and simplifying the process. With visual interfaces, pre-built components, and automated code generation, businesses can swiftly create applications that align with evolving market demands and fit their strategy.

Higher Collaboration Throughout the Organization

One of the standout features of low-code platforms is their ability to foster collaboration across departments. Traditional development processes often lead to siloed work, with business units and IT teams operating separately. Low-code bridges this gap by providing business users and developers a platform to co-create. This collaborative approach results in solutions that are finely tuned to business needs and deliver enhanced value.

Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Financial considerations are always at the forefront of decision-making in organizations. Low-code platforms offer a significant advantage by reducing the total cost of ownership. The streamlined development process and the elimination of extensive manual coding frees up developers and accelerate time-to-market. Ultimately, the reduced TCO allows businesses to allocate resources strategically, investing in innovation rather than maintenance.

Better Alignment Between Business and IT

One of the longstanding challenges in the tech landscape has been the disconnect between business objectives and IT capabilities. Low-code platforms serve as a bridge between these two realms. Business users can actively participate in the application implementation process, ensuring that the final product aligns precisely with their needs. Meanwhile, developers can focus on complex technical aspects while relying on the input and insights of business users. This alignment cultivates a shared vision, minimizing misunderstandings and generating solutions that resonate with the organization's goals.

Low-code use cases

The versatility of low-code platforms extends far beyond their features. These platforms find their application across various industries and scenarios, enabling organizations to address challenges quickly and efficiently. Here are some critical use cases that showcase the expansive reach of low-code technology:

Rapid Application Prototyping

In the early stages of software development, prototyping is critical in visualizing concepts and refining requirements. Low-code platforms offer an ideal environment for rapid prototyping, allowing stakeholders to visualize and interact with a tangible application interface.

Customer-Facing Applications

From mobile apps to web portals, customer-facing applications are the face of a business in the digital realm. Whether it's an e-commerce platform, a booking system, or a customer support portal, low-code facilitates the creation of seamless experiences that enhance customer engagement.

Internal Process Automation

Streamlining internal workflows and processes is a common challenge for many organizations. Low-code platforms allow businesses to create customized applications that automate routine tasks, reducing manual effort and human error. Whether it's managing employee leave requests, processing invoices, or tracking inventory, low-code applications optimize efficiency and data accuracy.

Legacy System Integration

Modernizing legacy systems while ensuring a seamless transition can be complex. Low-code platforms enable organizations to integrate legacy systems with new applications, extending their lifespan and extracting additional value from existing investments. This integration minimizes disruptions, preserves critical data, and enhances the overall efficiency of the IT landscape.

Compliance and Regulatory Applications

Industries governed by stringent compliance requirements, such as healthcare and finance, rely on applications that ensure adherence to regulations. Low-code platforms facilitate the development of applications that capture, store, and manage sensitive data while ensuring compliance with industry standards and legal obligations.

Remote Work Solutions

The shift towards remote work has highlighted the need for flexible and accessible applications. Low-code platforms enable the creation of applications that facilitate remote collaboration.

Proof-of-Concept Development

In today's fast-paced business environment, it's important to gather user feedback, evaluate market demand, and make informed decisions about resource allocation. Low-code platforms offer a rapid way to create proof-of-concept applications when exploring new business ideas or testing the viability of concepts.

Low-Code Conclusion

We have learned that low-code platforms are versatile tools that find their application across diverse use cases, revolutionizing how businesses innovate, streamline processes, and engage with their customers. From enhancing user experiences to optimizing internal operations, low-code's agility and adaptability make it a valid option for organizations looking to stay ahead in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

With the graphapi® low-code backend platform we want to support businesses in their digital transforming journey allowing to focus on growth and innovation rather than the upkeep and maintenance of their infrastructure. Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more.