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Why low-code/no-code platforms are coming to your workplace soon

Suddenly you don't have to code to program. The introduction of low-code/no-code platforms are bringing coding to the masses and showing the biz side how development really works.

No tech background and no coding skills? No problem. A group of tools known as low-code/no-code platforms are enabling so-called "citizen developers" to create apps -- no coding required.

At a time when software developers are in short supply, the idea of turning business people in-to coders has obvious appeal. And according to a recently released Forrester Research report, 42 different companies today offer low- or no-code platforms that allow nearly anyone to painlessly create an app using simple GUI or drag and drop interfaces. The Forrester report stresses that a desire to have developers with "nontraditional backgrounds" and an equal interest in making these platforms accessible for "general purpose use" are driving this young but fast-growing low-code/no-code market.

One of those companies, QuickBase, a spin off from Intuit that was recently acquired by a private equity firm, was founded to help customers expand the functionality of Intuit's accounting tools. But now QuickBase is focused largely on helping citizen developers create apps that make their business lives better, said Karen Devine, vice president of marketing at QuickBase. "Business problems -- like making things more efficient and productive -- are so low in the IT queue," she said. "There is just not enough developer budget available to them. We want people without coding backgrounds to be able to solve their own problems."

In fact, QuickBase did a survey of its users and found only 8% had any kind of coding background, while 70% said developing applications is "part of their day job," Devine said. That's the disconnect QuickBase, and other companies, are trying to hone in on with low-code/no-code offerings. "We make it easy for them to use technology to think creatively," Devine explained.

But we didn't have time, and if we'd waited for the developers, we'd be out $1 million.
Nichole Browningdeployment manager, Dominion Dealer Solutions

Nichole Browning is the deployment manager at Dominion Dealer Solutions in Norfolk, Va., a company that provides technology and marketing services to auto dealerships around the country. She's a QuickBase user (with no programming background) and is quick to point out both the irony and the benefits. "It's a Catch-22," she explained. "We are a technology company and we have lots of programmers writing code." But Dominion and its customers sometimes need solutions quickly. And on several memorable occasions, when upward of $1 million was at risk, it was QuickBase to the rescue, Browning said. She was able to use the platform to resolve a crisis involving 700 customers literally overnight. "Of course if our developers had time, they could have come up with solutions. But we didn't have time, and if we'd waited for the developers, we'd be out $1 million."

Demand for the QuickBase platform is coming largely from the business side, but IT departments "are increasingly showing up looking for a way to a low-code/no-code platform," Devine said. When the business side is using it, she described the typical IT reaction to the idea as "neutral to positive." This isn't a one-to-one developer replacement, "but this is a creative workaround to the developer shortage," she said. And in the midterm, she also sees this as a tool that will encourage cooperation and perhaps even eventually plant the seeds for a DevOps transformation. "This is getting people on the business side working on (software) and understanding how the development process works."

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How do you feel about non-developers coding?
It’s a double-edged sword, much like IoT. On the one hand, it’s great - it lowers the threshold and allows more people to get “in the game,” which means that people that might have previously been unable to contribute may now do so. On the other hand, it’s not so great - that same low threshold creates a lot of problems, like competing standards, buggy applications with gaping security vulnerabilities, and pollution of the ecosystem with applications that are poorly built, quickly abandoned, or both.
If we talk about IT teams, coding is a valuable skill for everyone. If we talk about doctors, maybe not :) - read this real case when programmable option for the X-Ray machine caused serious radiation overdose for patients:

Thirty years ago, we had 4GLs (4th generation languages) which were not dissimilar in concept. Admittedly, their use was largely confined to querying datasets and building reports - but that was state-of-the-art back then.

However, the IT department retained control and responsibility for their use in much the same way as BYOD today, and before that, the introduction of PCs. That was the role of the Information Centre in the era previously referred to.

What goes round, comes round.

@AlbertGareev, that is scary! @GrahamKeitch, so you think it's ok as long as the IT folks stay in control? But what happens if they do not? @mcorum...I love that phrase "pollution of the ecosystem"! Is that really a risk when it comes to users, or are you more worried about the enterprise ecosystem?

"No tech background and no coding skills? No problem. A new group of tools known as low-code/no-code platforms are enabling so-called "citizen developers" to create apps -- no coding required "

Just partial true. As the market grow you will need more good ( excellent ) developers to make all that "simple GUI's or drag and drop interfaces"


@Valerie you question @GrahamKeitch "so you think it's OK as long as the IT folks stay in control?" My opinion is that they will stay in control anyway. Programmers with no tech background, no coding skills will always be depend of IT folks which allow them to make applications for their business needs.


As @mcorm said it's a double-edged sword and I agree absolutely. As we see lately there is more and more acquisition. Big fishes eat small ones.

Will we soon be completely depend on those "big players" and their visions what we need and how we have to do it?

Are you referring to the fact that companies around should carry out a concept called Synergize, so that people who are eager to learn coding can also learn at their on pace?
I think low code/no code may work great for some business models, but the customization will not be there unless your willing to pay more. If you have a team with great skills, you may be better off. In my experience, I have seen company's remove applications built by developers, wasting millions and then go buy an off the shelf products and then they are disappointed by the fact that the package only fits 1/3 of the business model. The design has to fit your organization and I cannot see an application built and say wow this is exactly my needs for my business.