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Low-code app platforms prove essential in times of crisis

During the pandemic response, leading low-code platforms have been pressed into service to quickly deliver apps for testing, scheduling and prioritizing high-risk groups.

Video brought to you by ServiceNow.

Low-code app platforms are regularly cited for their ability to deliver more business applications faster and cheaper. At no time has that capability proved more vital to the public and private sectors than during the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine rollout.

"During the pandemic, many organizations embraced low-code platforms to build and deploy new apps fast," wrote Forrester Research principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond in an October 2020 blog post. "These experiences will drive most development shops to adopt low-code tools and more."

"Before the general public could be vaccinated, we had to get our primary first responders and healthcare workers vaccinated," said Gregg Aldana, senior director, Creator Workflows Global Solution Consulting at ServiceNow, during an interview with TechTarget's Jamison Cush. "There were no systems really to do this. But we saw a lot of hospitals, we saw a lot of healthcare providers using low-code to develop vaccination applications that would allow their employees very quickly to come in and request an appointment and schedule a time to go and get the first shot and get the second shot. We saw one customer use low-code to develop a vaccination application literally in 10 days and then vaccinate over 10,000 healthcare employees."

Along with healthcare, Aldana cited deployments of low-code app platforms in manufacturing, financial services, technology companies and the entertainment industry as well as federal, state and local governments.

"[W]e saw the city of Los Angeles use low-code to publish an application for citizens to register to get tested [for COVID-19] based on their location and based on their prioritization in different at-risk groups," Aldana explained. "They were able to go from idea into production in 72 hours. And the mayor kind of laid down the law that this would take place on a Thursday. And by Sunday evening, there was a press conference with the application going live."

In this video, Aldana and Cush further discuss specific industries, applications and deployments where low-code app platforms are a "natural fit."

Transcript

Jamison Cush: Hi, I'm Jamison Cush with TechTarget, and I'm talking with Gregg Aldana with ServiceNow about low-code platforms. And if you'd like to learn more about enterprise low-code app development, please click the link above or in the description below. So, Gregg, are there any specific industries or verticals that are especially suitable for low-code platforms?

Gregg Aldana: Absolutely, Jamison. I think one of the primary industries where we see a lot of use of low-code is in the public sector. Both federal and state and local governments [have] a lot of mission-critical business processes and regulations. There are no out-of-the-box solutions. And regulations change very quickly, so we see these industries very naturally moving towards low-code. To other industries, where I've seen it very applicable, maybe three industries: manufacturing, healthcare and financial services. And the reason that we're seeing these industries, in particular, be very well suited for low-code is these are areas that were traditionally very slow previously.

Healthcare, there's a lot of manual processes and providing great healthcare to patients and a lot of different systems, and a lot of paperwork, and a lot of friction if you will, or conflict here. So this is ripe for introducing low-code to very dramatically and very quickly and enable citizen developers and IT developers to address solutions where none had existed before. We're also this in financial services, lots of internal processes in trying to regulate loans and different stipulations and seeing all the different stovetop systems that are involved in these business processes. Low-code is a natural fit to automate these very quickly without making a huge investment.

And then finally, in manufacturing. This is, again, another area where there's just so much going on, and there's a natural inclination to build in the manufacturing industry. And there's not a lot of out-of-the-box solutions that address all the intricacies and a lot of frictions on factory floors, about different business processes. And they're always constantly evolving and changing. So that -- manufacturing is an industry just naturally drawn towards the high velocity and the flexible nature of low-code platforms.

Cush: Excellent. So I'd like to dive into each one of those specifically, but we'll start with healthcare. I mean, that's been in the news because of the pandemic. What specific challenges have you seen from the healthcare industry?

Aldana: Well, one example that I could see was they were one of the first industries that had to get all of their employees vaccinated. So this was a challenge. Before the general public could be vaccinated, we had to get our primary first responders and healthcare workers vaccinated. So there were no systems really to do this. But we saw a lot of hospitals, we saw a lot of healthcare providers using low-code to develop vaccination applications that would allow their employees very quickly to come in and request an appointment and schedule a time to go and get the first shot and get the second shot. We saw one customer use low-code to develop a vaccination application literally in 10 days and then vaccinate over 10,000 healthcare employees. So that was just a tremendous example. They said before low-code, this is something that would have taken them months to implement.

Cush: So how about state and local governments? I always tend to think of those as being a little slower with their movements and their system upgrades and all of that. What challenges do they face in terms this emergency, the pandemic emergency?

Aldana: Well, you know, I saw different challenges at different levels. So I think at the state and the local government level, we saw this mass moving to very quickly get people out there and get testing so that people could find out very early in the pandemic, do I have this? Do I not have this? There was no central place to go. So we saw the city of Los Angeles use low-code to publish an application for citizens to register to get tested based on their location and based on their prioritization in different at-risk groups. And they were able to go from idea into production in 72 hours. And the mayor kind of laid down the law that this would take place on a Thursday. And by Sunday evening, there was a press conference with the application going live.

On the federal level in the public area, we saw the U.S. State Department had issues where they were trying to get their diplomats into different countries and try to get them back home. But there were different COVID requirements and testing requirements and precautions and quarantine requirements based on different countries. If you're going from Great Britain to Germany, they have one set of requirements. If you're going from Germany to France, there are different requirements. And there was no way to track any of this and to keep all of their diplomats informed on what the regulations were. They were able in three to four weeks to roll out 10 to 12 mission-critical native mobile low-code apps using a low-code platform. Now this is something that their deputy CIO at the U.S. State Department said. This was a scenario that would have taken them seven or eight months to just get their head around collecting requirements and finding a contractor to build this. But in this case, using a low-code platform, they were able to roll these mission-critical applications out to their diplomats in literally three weeks.

Cush: So you mentioned earlier too financial services. And I'm just thinking now, in financial services you have time-sensitive workflows. You probably have a lot of security issues, compliance issues. How are they using these platforms?

Aldana: So we've seen financial services really tap into the concept of citizen development, and trying to empower more people outside of just the traditional IT areas to help develop applications. We saw one bank, Academy Mortgage, where they had a problem where they were trying to capture some of the auditability of loans they were giving out to see if they met the equal opportunity auditing requirements. And they really had no automated way to do this. And they used low-code to develop a custom application. And it was so successful, they decided to start a center of excellence and empower more and more developers outside of the IT business unit, the people that have the knowledge of these processes, to build and automate more processes. And they were able to roll out over a one-year period 50 custom applications, all built with low-code for different parts of loan origination and loan processing.

Cush: So you also mentioned manufacturing, but I wonder, are there any other industries that are primed for low-code, things that we might not even be thinking about right now.

Aldana: I would say there's very few industries that are not primed for low-code. So whether it's manufacturing, its healthcare, state and local governments, U.S. federal, financial agencies, technology companies, entertainment companies. We saw a lot of entertainment companies, including the NBA, use low-code and low-code platforms to help bring players back into the you know, into their bubble of a season. So we're seeing this in all different areas and ideas you would never normally think of. So I guess my simple answer to this question is, there are very little industries that are not primed for low-code.

Cush: So looking at a high level, all industries can embrace low-code, then what would you say is the sort of universal business advantage that low-code delivers?

Aldana: I think the universal advantage that low-code delivers to all of these industries is speed. We're living in the fastest paced environment that any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes, both in your personal lives and your professional lives. At home, every time you pick up your iPhone or you pick up your mobile phone, you're getting new applications pushed down to it. Updates and advertisements for new ways to automate and make your life easier. People are coming to work, and they're expecting those same type of applications to be rolled at the same speed. And companies can't keep up. You can't hire your way out of this problem. You can't hire enough developers. So you have to adopt and start using and leveraging low-code technologies to help you automate these processes much, much faster. And what we're seeing though, where we would see people kind of shop around and bring their business and their personal and their commercial lives to companies that provide better experiences. We're seeing people do this with companies, shopping around to see which companies provide the best experiences and the best applications, and low-code can give you a very competitive advantage developing the best applications for your employees and for your customers.

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