Blog 07 May 2020

One size doesn’t necessarily fit all

by Richard Billington

Low code and no code are not the same

And here’s why. Last year, I penned a blog post on the difference between no-code and low-code and I’ve often been asked for a more detailed comparison. How the capabilities of no-code tools compare to Liberty Create is something that is coming up more and more. And as previously talked about, they really are different solutions aimed at solving different problems.

John Rymer, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, makes the point quite clearly that no-code and low-code are not the same thing in his article Watch Your Language! “Low-Code” And “No-Code” Are Not The Same.

But of course, in many organisations, there’s room for multiple tools and platforms and each can be put to the use they are best suited.

Here’s how no-code and low-code compare:

What it is?Designed for business users to get the apps they need without having to rely on IT. Allows them to build simple departmental apps for their own use or the use of their departmental colleaguesDesigned for business users and IT to collaborate and deliver new business apps faster and at lower cost than using traditional development methods
Who uses it?Subject matter experts who are familiar with digital technologies. May already be skilled in building complex spreadsheets or reports from systems such as Salesforce.Business users and analysts who understand the process and want to create apps by defining the process flow, data model and user interface using a simple, graphical approach. IT also use low-code to extend the power of the platform and provide appropriate security and governance.
When it’s used?Simple app requirements including friendly front-end on a spreadsheet or simple forms for data capture processesSimple and complex apps where the process can impact many people. Designed to deliver great customer experience (CX) and plug the gaps between the front office and back office.
Why it’s used?No existing development skills needed. Don’t have to know coding. Provides some autonomy from IT.Can deliver apps up to 10x faster than traditional apps delivering faster value to the business. Includes testing, security, deployment, maintenance and governance capabilities.
Where it’s used?Within departments for the use of their team.Across the business with extensive integration capabilities to existing systems.
ProsGreat for simple apps and extending them to web and mobile devices. Allows business users to go at their own pace.Faster time to value. Reduce the IT app backlog. Enable business to realise its innovation requirements while providing IT the overall control. Can join up different systems and process and fill functional process gaps quickly.
ConsApps are often built in silos. Many projects get started and often never completed. Projects may never be documented and get orphaned when the original creator moves on, as they’re difficult for others to pick up and maintain.Not suitable for every type of application. Platforms have varying capabilities for testing, DevOps and governance.

We can see then there are clear differences between no-code and low-code tools.

No-code tools are perfect for citizen developers (business users) to build simple apps for themselves and their team. If they are good at building things – such as complex spreadsheets and Salesforce reports, it’s likely they’ll be able to use these tools to build friendly front-ends to those systems for web and mobile use.

Low-code tools take on not only departmental requirements, but those for the enterprise more widely. As the name suggests, low-code supports some coding, though far less than traditional methods. Referring back to John Rymer’s article, we find this to be accurate:

“When required, coding addresses three common areas: integration, UI, and reporting. In our surveys, both pro and “citizen” developers tell us that when they require coding, it is to integrate their apps with other systems, create custom user interfaces (UI) and address their reporting requirements.”

The best low-code tools allow business users and IT to build apps together. They deliver apps that bake-in understanding of business teams alongside IT’s ability to provide security, control and governance. These platforms can therefore support simple and more complex apps targeting both internal and external users.

The very best platforms, focus on bringing people and systems together to deliver the best possible experience for customers (CX). Gaps close between front-end and back-end systems, between modern and legacy apps and between business and IT. All then combine to deliver an experience the customer will benefit from.

As Gartner state in their ‘Low-code Development Technologies Evaluation Guide 2019’, “By 2024, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives”.

And that’s just fine with us.

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