Blog 10 August 2020

The time is now: Why the adoption of low-code is critical for digital-led recovery

by Richard Farrell


Richard Farrell, our CINO, spoke to LM Forums Digital recently. He was asked how our Liberty Create low-code solution is helping organisations respond in the face of the crisis, and about his views on what’s key to the London Market building a digital future.

Digital to survive.

It’s the message for business leaders everywhere, as we all continue to navigate uncertain times ahead

With over 300 years of face-to-face trading, physical interactions and paper-based processes are in the London Market’s DNA. So how does a market founded in a coffee shop, accelerate its plans to go digital without losing the relationships that are part of its trading history?

Low-code is one technology that’s pioneering a fresh approach to a digital-first future. Recognising failures of big transformation projects that are often too expensive and too slow, low-code is supporting IT and change leaders to ‘get off the starting block’. Improving one process at a time.

The London Market is known for its traditional operating practices. What’s been your observation of how the market has responded to the COVID lock-down period?

The feedback we’ve received from customers in the London Market is that generally businesses have been surprised at how well they’re coping. We know from our experience in this space, that there has been an increasing need for modernisation to improve the efficiency of processes and reduce costs, while also building on digital investments already made.

Due to unprecedented circumstances, the market has been forced to go digital. From the discussions we’ve had, the feeling is that London Market should use this as an opportunity to accelerate trends and capabilities, which otherwise would have taken years to come into play.

It’s still early days, with many unknowns about what the future holds. This is a similar story in many of the markets we operate in, and in their ‘The digital-led recovery from COVID-19: Five questions for CEOs’ report (April 2020)’, McKinsey states: “We believe the COVID-19 crisis is likely to significantly accelerate the shift to digital and fundamentally shake up the business landscape.”

For those who aren’t familiar with low-code, what is it and how does it help make digital a reality?

Low-code enables citizen developers (aka business users) and IT to collaborate on application development, radically improving processes without the need for complex code. This makes the whole process of delivering change faster and easier, using the expertise of the business, not just IT.

By helping businesses to get off the starting block quicker, low-code delivers value faster. A good example is the LMA’s ‘Gemini’ claims expert management solution, built with Liberty Create low-code. This enables carriers to better understand their true spend on claims experts, manage relationships and monitor performance. A major plus point was that the solution was delivered in just five months, a significant achievement for a London Market project.

What best practice have you seen in other industries that the London Market could learn from?

Several of our customers have become powerhouse low-code users. That’s down to the ease-of-use of Liberty Create – it serves both professional developers and business users. And in the face of the crisis, it has empowered these customers to collaborate and innovate in amazing ways.

There are also many examples from organisations that have innovated in record time during this crisis. Take Croydon Council, in 120 hours, they built and deployed an entirely new business process application from scratch, using data from a legacy system, complete with Single Sign On (SSO) and BACS payment integration. It had made payments of more than £10m after 10 days.

And, despite massive unknowns, a major global insurance customer of ours is going live with their low-code plans as one of their priority projects.

In fact, we have customers across a range of industries including insurance, transport and retail who are progressing their low-code projects, despite budget cuts elsewhere.

These projects are recognised as transforming core processes and reducing cost to serve. Meaning that businesses will be strengthened as a result of these low-code applications.

What’s the one piece of actionable advice you would give IT and change leaders in the London Market who are looking at what they can do from today?

Throughout history, we’ve seen unpredictable events that are impossible to plan for, and I’m sure more are ahead of us too! Which investments are the most necessary to create the technology environment allowing your company to react to changing market demands and thrive in the ‘next normal’?

A solid starting point is a platform that helps to boost productivity and cut costs by adopting rapid digitisation of processes. That’s going to be key to building the digital-first future.

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Chief Innovation Officer

German-born, Simpsons-obsessed and with a not-so-secret penchant for Welsh techno, Richard is Netcall’s long-serving CIO – he’s been with us for an impressive 19 years, meaning he’s somewhere between ‘living legend’ and ‘part of the furniture’ around here.


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