What it is: Low-Code/No-Code is a software development approach involving little to no manual coding. In LC/NC, development is accomplished through a graphical interface, rather than writing text.
What it does: Creating an application using LC/NC is akin to assembling a Lego kit. Applications are built by dragging and dropping pre-existing components into place. In the case of LC, some coding is done to integrate components. While LC/NC can be powerful, it is particularly appropriate for smaller applications requiring access to specific data sources, for example, dashboards or process automation.
Why it matters: Creating software is costly and time-consuming. For the right applications, LC/NC can speed and simplify development greatly, allowing firms to create custom software solutions that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. Additionally, NC can allow non-technical people to develop applications, making development a collaborative process that occurs across an enterprise, in which anyone with an idea can contribute.
What to do about it: If custom software solutions would help your organization, but costs/requirements of development are prohibitive, look into the possibility of developing with an LC/NC platform. Also, consider NC if you’d like to adopt a development process for a specific application, that can incorporate non-technical members of your team.
- Speeds and simplifies application development
- Decreases technical skills requirements
- Potentially reduces the number of bugs created by hand-coding
- Hand development may be required to integrate LC/NC apps with other systems
- Risks of vendor lock-in to a given LC/NC platform
- Complexity and controllability limitations of apps may not meet some long-term business objectives
Although they share many advantages and drawbacks, there’s a fairly stark distinction between LC and NC, in that the latter requires no technical skill, whereas the former essentially represents a way for developers to avoid hand-coding except when necessary. One well-regarded NC solution is AppSheet, which jumpstarts the development process with templates. Of the many LC solutions available, Appian is notable for its native integration of AI/ML.
Kentucky Power, a large American electricity provider, uses a number of NC apps designed on AppSheet. Applications include expedited data input for field workers and mapping applications to track the status of ongoing maintenance. The use of NC apps allowed non-technical company leaders to address small business challenges quickly with simple applications.