6 Reasons to select a low-code environment


Low-code platforms represent one of the fastest-growing markets in the tech industry. What is low-code technology? And why is it becoming so popular?

April 29, 202412 mins
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This paper explores six reasons why organizations are choosing to deploy low-code environments. It also examines the potential downsides, and looks ahead to what the future might hold for these tools.

The big business of not writing code

In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” a businessman tells a young Dustin Hoffman that he has just one word to share with him. That word: plastics. The businessman goes on to explain, “There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”

When young people graduate today, they often get similar advice. But the one word they hear isn’t “plastics” — it’s “code.”

Microsoft founder Bill Gates says, “Everyone can benefit from learning the basics of computer science.” Businessman Richard Branson echoes that sentiment, lamenting, “We don’t have enough people who can code.” Even fashion model Karlie Kloss says, “Code is a superpower every young woman should be able to access.”

Despite this encouragement to learn programming skills, businesses struggle to find the talented coders they need. As a result, they are increasingly turning to low-code tools.

According to IDC, the market for low-code, no-code, and intelligent developer technologies is growing 17.8% per year and will likely hit $21.0 billion by 2026.

Looking farther into the future, Research and Markets more optimistically forecasts, “The global low-code development platform market is predicted to generate a revenue of $187.0 billion by 2030, rising from $10.3 billion in 2019, and is expected to advance at a fast pace, 31.1% CAGR, during the forecast period (2020-2030).”

The analysts at Gartner also agree that the market is growing quickly. “Organizations are increasingly turning to low-code development technologies to fulfill growing demands for speedy application delivery and highly customized automation workflows,” says Varsha Mehta, Senior Market Research Specialist at Gartner. “Equipping both professional IT developers and non-IT personas — business technologists — with diverse low- code tools enables organizations to reach the level of digital competency and speed of delivery required for the modern agile environment.”

This market demand raises a couple of questions: First, what is a low-code environment? And second, why is it becoming so popular?

What “low-code” means

In the broadest sense, a low-code tool is any technology that allows people who don’t know how to code to create simple applications, or workflows with prompts. Given this definition, some people trace the advent of the low- code movement back to the 1980s, when Microsoft Excel began enabling macros via Visual Basic for applications.

More recently, Forrester began using the phrase “low- code platform” around 2014. The firm explains, “Low-code platforms employ visual, declarative techniques instead of traditional lines of programming. Both developers and non-developers can use these products, and they require less training to start. Common features include reusable components, drag-and-drop tools, and process modeling. Individuals or small teams can experiment, prototype, and deliver apps in days or weeks.”

Similarly, PwC defines low-code platforms as “software solutions that enable a user to build and deploy software applications, with no or minimal coding and hence, through enhanced and amplified drag and drop features, a non-technical user with a flair for IT or, as some define, as a ‘citizen developer’, can effectively deploy software applications.”

The low-code category includes everything from general- purpose application development platforms to workflow automation, to customer relationship management and marketing software. And low-code features are particularly popular in tools that harness artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. In fact, according to McKinsey, “AI high performers are 1.6 times more likely than other organizations to engage nontechnical employees in creating AI applications by using emerging low-code or no-code programs, which allow companies to speed up the creation of AI applications.”

And while they are often lumped together, low-code and no-code tools are slightly different. Anyone can use a no-code tool, but they may be more limited in what they can accomplish. A low-code tool requires some domain or business knowledge, and can accomplish more complex tasks. For many businesses, low-code environments represent a balance between enabling a somewhat larger group of employees to be involved in complex tasks without trading away flexibility.