(By Vijay Sivaram)
The buzzwords doing the rounds in the tech industry today are ‘low-code’ and ‘no-code’. But are they really a new phenomenon? Not really – they have been around for over two decades. However, it is only recently, with widespread digital transformation across organizations, that they are gaining a silver-bullet status. As firms roll out multiple digital touch-points nearly overnight, these low-code, no-code platforms have enabled them to rapidly build solutions that fit right in with their practices and processes.
Let us use blogs as an example to showcase the evolution of low-code, no-code. In the early 90s, having a blog meant that you had to have a website – and having a website required a deep understanding of how IP protocols interfaced, and servers were setup, along with coding capability to build the actual website. This in turn meant that you had to be a coder to write a blog on your own. Fast-forward to the 2000s, and now one could publish a blog as a page on an existing website, such as BlogSpot. However, it was only in the early 2010s that bloggers could publish their work on a customized platform such as WordPress or Wix. Today, WordPress has evolved far beyond the original scope of its offering as a highly customizable low-code, no-code blogging platform. Today, WordPress is a platform which supports the build-out of full-fledged websites, with thousands of templates, plug-ins and integrations for no-code users, and even more low-code opportunities for those who want to custom-build on the WordPress platform.
Likewise, Adobe transformed their services from Photoshop, a graphics editor solution, to the Adobe Experience Manager, a comprehensive content management solution for building websites, mobile apps and forms. Despite having varied business solutions, all these platforms share one common deliverable – customizable and ready-to-use templates that allow those with minimal technical expertise to take charge of their organization’s solution development process.
With high demand for lightning-fast implementation of automation solutions, low-code and no-code solutions are a game-changer. They markedly reduce the app development and deployment cycle, and require minimal time and cost investments. Now, one can use drag and drop features instead of writing multiple lines of code to build a new app, enhance an existing solution or integrate interfaces to ensure business continuity and operational excellence. An industry report published by Gartner predicts that by 2023, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will be using low-code as a strategic application platform. This heralds a new era for the way organizations will implement tech transformations and the corresponding workforce they choose to upskill and hire.
Until a few years ago, the IT industry comprised of technicians skilled in a multitude of coding languages and platforms. While these languages evolved and changed, the need for hard core coding skills remained resolute. Today, with the growing prominence of low-code and no-code solutions, the IT workforce will likely witness a new era of skill segmentation; (i) coding experts who will build these ready-to-use platforms, (ii) low-code experts who can enable platform integrations between existing systems and new plug-and-play platforms and customize these solutions, and (iii) no-code experts who have specialized skills in managing these platforms. Thus, a new generation of technical skills will now be in-demand. Organizations will have to work towards re-skilling their existing workforce, ensuring higher utilization, while simultaneously inducting a new crop of fresh talent who can lead the process changes.
Technology leaders like Microsoft, Amazon and ServiceNow are currently being joined by Indian firms like Infosys, Tech Mahindra and HCL as developers of low-code, no-code capability solutions. Thus, the demand for highly skilled coders will rise as pure-play vendors and hyper-scalers mark their entry in this domain. Additionally, as companies allow non-technical professionals to build their own applications, they will need the assistance of IT security experts to ensure that customer and enterprise data is safeguarded. Therefore coders and technology experts are unlikely to see a drop in their skill demand.
Nevertheless, as low-code capability solutions bridge the skill gap in the workforce and democratize app development, the industry can soon expect a large influx of semi-skilled technology experts ready to be hired. Organizations will soon shift the skill-approach of their hiring strategies as these low-code and no-code experts will enable continuous change management with significant time and cost-savings. Digital transformation may now occur in a time span ranging from 3 days to 3 months, with the lowest investment possible.
As the benefits of low-code platforms becomes increasingly clear to organizations, their implementation will be widespread. Internal apps for approval cycles, query management, employee management, and lead generation among others will now be easily created to remedy operational bottlenecks. Similarly, customer-facing apps and microsites will also be rolled out swiftly through these platforms. With high ease-of-use, flexibility and customization options, adoption will occur across industries. In the current market scenario, the BFSI sector has witnessed the highest adoption of low-code, no-code due to their need for high-volume, customized customer-facing digital touch points. Low code is believed to be the tool to compete with neobanks and fintechs. With this high scope for demand, Infosys has developed low-code capabilities specifically targeting the banking industry.
All in all, low-code, no-code technology solutions are taking precedence in the Indian IT industry and CIOs must take stock of viability, value-add propositions and market offerings available before making a decision. Employees in this domain must work swiftly to upskill themselves and be proficient in new platforms to remain relevant and essential to their organizations. The new wave in technology is here, and we must get on-board to reap its benefits.
(The author is the CEO, Quess IT Staffing)