Navigating the Low-Code Landscape Webinar Recap

Betty Blocks has focused on empowering Citizen Developers since its inception. Chris Obdam, the founder and CEO of Betty Blocks, has a staggering 33 years of experience in software development under his belt; it’s safe to say that he knows a thing or two about low-code. While low-code is nothing new, with the term first being coined by Forrester in 2014, the concept has seen significant changes over the years.

When you put technology in the hands of people who normally don’t have access to building software, that’s when you democratize software. It’s specifically the democratization of software that is currently accelerating. The reason for this is due to business users feeling the need to develop their own solutions because the IT department is caught up in keeping operations running. This means that there is no time to take care of business requests, further widening the gap between business and IT. Low-code enables business users who are not technically skilled to take care of developing their own solutions. Here’s the difference between when an organization implements low-code versus when it doesn’t: 

Without Low-Code With Low-Code
No IT capacity due to business requests. Solutions are rapidly launched.
A gap between business and IT. Building the right solutions. 
Limitations of current systems.  Increased end-user satisfaction. 
Not having the right resources.  Everyone collaborates.
No innovation process.  Continuous innovation success. 


What defines low-code?

Low-code is about application development done in a visual development interface. Low-code features a lot of reusability thanks to pre-built templates and components that you can integrate with different systems. Workflow and data modeling can then be applied through a visual editor without the need for writing manual code. This results in better management of the application life cycle and building solutions that are secure and scalable. A good low-code platform ticks all of these boxes, plus it gives room for the customization of components when needed. That’s what sets low-code aside from no-code. 

So, what types of low-code are there? We see two main categories: low-code for IT and low-code for business-led IT (Citizen Development). When comparing low-code to no-code, we differentiate between the capabilities of what both platforms can do. Both platforms allow users to build an app, with low-code offering the option to customize applications.

There are three important developer roles within the low-code sphere: Citizen Developer, Business Technologist, and Low-Coder. Betty Blocks frames itself as low-code for business-led IT, which means that it mainly focuses on Citizen Developers and Business Technologists. The three different roles are explained as follows:

  • Citizen Developer: They understand the business problem the most and will help configure an application instead of building it from A to Z. If it’s a small app, they can use a template to build it.
  • Business Technologist: Business technologists are responsible for the bulk of the development process. They are the bridge between business and IT and know their way around technology. There is a large emerging workforce consisting of business technologists these days. 
  • Low-Coder: A technically skilled employee or even a full-fledged developer. This person can extend and customize applications by writing code. 

The Low-Code Quadrant

There are various degrees of intensity in the effort that an organization can put toward low-code based on experience and customization. No-code cannot really be deemed an application development platform in the sense that it is more of a configuration tool. Not much experience is needed and customization is limited, if not none. On the other hand, low-code for IT requires the most experience and lends itself well to complete customization of tools and apps. This method facilitates professional developers best. In the middle is low-code for business-led IT, which is meant to strike a balance between experience and flexibility. The latter aims to minimize the trade-off between cost, scale, customization, speed, and developer experience. The various low-code use cases are explained as follows: 

  • Low-code for IT: For professional developers within the IT department. There are hardly any limitations to what kind of applications can be built. The pros are flexibility, customization, and scalability. Yet, the costs are higher and too complex for business users,  
  • Restrictive no-code: Enables non-technical users to build applications with a template-driven approach. The software is highly configurable, and results can be delivered fast. However, flexibility and customization are limited. 
  • Low-code for business-led IT: Users can build full-fledged applications with limited coding experience. Output can be optimized by creating fusion teams, where each user takes ownership of a component best suited for their role. Governance, such as roles and permissions, must be in place in order for this to function. 
  • Solution-based low-code: A flexible way to build applications in a low-code way that can integrate with third-party solutions such as Salesforce. Because this development process is rather code-heavy, the con is that it is unwieldy for non-technical users to build with.
  • BPM low-code: Used for creating core applications and systems that can be deemed business critical. Both Citizen Developers and Business Technologists can develop with the support of the IT department. The downside is that this way of low-coding is not very effective for optimizing workflows. 

Making the right low-code decision

When evaluating which low-code platform is the right one, you first need to decide on the deliverable end product. If you want to build a full-fledged application complete UI that adheres to your branding, then no-code is not the right choice. Secondly, you need to decide what kind of developer you wish to empower; developers, business technologists, citizen developers, or all of the above. Thirdly, keep scalability in mind. You want to future-proof any tools by having customization options available. All of these factors tie into making the right decision when choosing a low-code platform. 

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