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Guest Blog Post from IDC : How Low-code Technologies Enhance Collaboration and Digital Transformation in the Enterprise

In this blog post,  Dr. Arnal Dayaratna, Research Vice President, Software Development at IDC, discusses the critical role that Low-Code technologies play in helping organizations to improve collaboration and accelerate development to amplify the digital transformation within organizations

Date: 11/1/2022

Guest IDC Blogger: Arnal Dayaratna

Sponsored by: SAP

One of the important attributes of low-code development tools is their enhancement of collaboration between enterprise IT-based developers and line of business developers. Defined as developer tools that empower developers to create digital solutions with little or no custom coding or scripting,  low-code development tools are used by professional developers to develop digital solutions for well-defined use cases while line of business developers use them to create application prototypes as well as production-grade solutions. The usage of low-code development platforms by a wide range of constituencies requires organizations to host a broader conversation about best practices for low-code development, and how the organization and its users can optimally benefit from low-code development. This conversation not only enriches collaboration specific to the use of low-code development technologies, but also contributes to the enhancement of digital transformation initiatives within an organization. In this scenario, an organization is required to critically reflect on development-related objectives and how they can be tactically achieved by the concurrent usage of discrete toolsets. This means that the adoption of low-code developer tools both improves collaboration within an enterprise, and contributes to the enhancement and amplification of digital transformation-related initiatives as well.

Low-code development tools enhance collaboration and digital transformation within organizations in the following four ways:

  1. Creating a culture of ubiquitous digitization

Low-code development tools contribute to the creation of a culture of ubiquitous digitization by providing tools which every professional resource can use to build digital solutions. By empowering sales professionals, business analysts, data analysts and operations professionals to create digital solutions in addition to professional developers, low-code development tools create a common language for digitization that spans the entire organization. Put differently, enterprise IT leverages the same technology stack as line of business developers who create and iterate on digital solutions. The empowerment of professional resources throughout the organization with the ability to build digital solutions decentralizes development activity away from enterprise IT and leads to a culture of ubiquitous digitization that integrates the development of digital solutions with all professional work.

  1. Fostering collaboration between professional developers, line of business developers and line of business professionals

Low-code development platforms increase collaboration between professional developers and other builders of digital solutions by providing a lingua franca for digitization-related initiatives. Low-code development tools facilitate a multitude of collaboration modalities as follows:

  • Professional developers and line of business developers can collaborate by sharing digital solutions they have made with one another as well as insights about the development process. One model for collaboration among low-code developers involves professional developers explaining best practices and providing guidance to line of business developers. Another model for collaboration features bi-directional learning between professional developers and line of business developers whereby both developer personas educate each other on the extensibility of low code to different use cases and scenarios. Yet another paradigm for collaboration between professional and line of business developers involves representatives of both parties working together in multi-disciplinary teams that requires them to work together to rapidly develop solutions.
  • Another example of how low-code development tools enable and enrich collaborate features professional developers, line of business developers, business users third party vendors such as consultants, ISVs and system integrators, as well as subject matter experts working together to define requirements and develop a digital solution that corresponds to those requirements use low-code. Notably, low-code development platforms can expediently expand the universe of professional resources that can collaborate to confirm requirements and subsequently develop a digital solution that reflects those requirements.
  1. Accelerating the development and modernization of digital solutions

By accelerating the velocity with which low-code digital solutions can be created, low-code development platforms spur developers to collaborate with business stakeholders more often than they would when development cycles are longer. The development sprints required to complete features and functionality are typically shorter than they are for command-line development, and as a result, developers solicit feedback from business sponsors with a faster cadence. This intensification of collaboration between developers and business stakeholders means that developers have more opportunities to deeply understand the needs and aspirations of business stakeholders. The enhancement of developer velocity and agility enabled by low-code developer tools also means that developers can expediently pivot their efforts to adopt a new direction and vision if the needs of the business change. As such, digital solutions created by low-code developers are more likely to represent the needs of the business because of the speed with which application-related functionality can be developed and rescinded, as necessary.

  1. Enabling the digitization of the long tail of digital solutions that have escaped the purview of enterprise IT

One of the important consequences of low-code developer tools is their ability to facilitate the digitization of the long tail of digital solutions that have escaped the purview of enterprise IT. In many cases, lines of business and business departments often have specific digitization needs that are not addressed by enterprise IT because they are deemed of lower priority than digital initiatives that more broadly affect the enterprise. Examples of digital solutions that often are not on the radar of enterprise IT include line of business or business unit-specific dashboards and automations of business processes. For example, a Pennsylvania-based care management team within a national health insurance company may need an app to track the geographic location of healthcare practitioners. Alternatively, a business unit responsible for a specific vehicle model produced by car manufacturer may require a custom-built dashboard to understand buyer behavior for that specific model. Both of these scenarios illustrate the need for a digital solution that is specific to a team or business unit within a larger organization, and as a result, has the potential to be deprioritized by enterprise IT. Low-code development tools empower lines of business and business units to rapidly prototype and develop digital solutions independently of enterprise IT, thereby augmenting the development-related agility of organizations and accelerating their ability to rapidly create digital solutions. Low-code development tools also render it easier to make changes to an application in response to changes in business requirements: this ability to rapidly update digital solutions is important because the contemporary development and business landscape is characterized by rapidly changing business requirements due to compliance and security considerations as well as rapid changes in the business, competitive, economic and geopolitical landscape in which organizations operate.

The ability of low-code to create a culture of ubiquitous digitization, enhance collaborate, accelerate development and digitize business problems that have escaped the purview of enterprise IT means that low-code amplifies digital innovation within organizations. As a result of low-code, organizations not only develop solutions more rapidly, but also benefit from enriched collaboration opportunities. Furthermore, the ability of low-code development platforms to democratize development brings to light the need to digitize business problems that enterprise IT may not have the resources to attend to, thereby creating additional opportunities for multi-disciplinary teams to break down siloed models of work and collaboration. Put differently, low code amplifies innovation by creating a development culture that prioritizes the rapid development of high-quality digital solutions to business problems. Importantly, this culture is decentralized throughout the organization in ways that enable richer conversations about the types of digital solutions an organization needs, in conjunction with the tools and resources to develop them.

Message from Sponsor

For more information on SAP’s low-code solutions and their value, read IDC’s white paper on Scaling Low-code Success.

About Arnal

Dr. Arnal Dayaratna is Research Vice President, Software Development at IDC. Arnal focuses on software developer demographics, trends in programming languages and other application development tools, and the intersection of these development environments and the many emerging technologies that are enabling and driving digital transformation. Arnal’s research examines how the changing nature of software development relates to broader trends in the technology landscape.

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