Expert Speak

Low-Code: The New Frontier of Modern-Day Application Development

Written by Ali Shabdar, Regional Director MEA – Zoho Corporation

The world is witnessing an unprecedented demand for digital tech, thanks to the pandemic that has catalysed the digital transformation. In the Middle East, businesses are increasingly moving towards the online market. In today’s contactless world, the majority of services, business interactions and sales are driven virtually, so the need for offering omni-channel experience that caters to this rising market is more important than ever.

The need for digital solutions is also spurred by enterprises’ efforts to reduce expenses, save man-hours and increase efficiency amidst current uncertainties. Enterprises who once resisted the digital shift have realised the importance of automating and digitising operations in order to maintain business continuity and remain resilient in the face of the pandemic.

Current challenges in achieving digital transformation
Global organisations are well on their way to achieve digital transformation, but two things seem to be impeding the process: the lack of reliability and flexibility of legacy systems, as well as scarce IT skills and expertise. The low-code application development (LCAD) tackles these issues. LCAD has been around since 2004, but is ever more relevant in today’s age. Unlike extensive hand-coding, the LCAD is a form of developing applications that requires little or no prior technical knowledge of coding or programming.

What is low-code?
A low-code is a cloud-based platform that allows developers to build applications faster through pre-built coding blocks presented as a drag-and-drop visual interface. These subscription-based platforms enable visual development, simplified integrations, instant deployment, compatibility with different operating systems, scalability and most importantly security.

How does it work?
You can think of low-code as the technology equivalent of Lego’s interlocking toys where you can build custom-made solutions that are simple, sophisticated and easy to assemble. It similarly offers pre-built tools and parts that offer flexibility to the builder to customise the masterpiece whichever way they intend to use.

The most compelling value of low-code is that it enables both professional developers and “citizen developers” (business users) to create mobile and web-based applications that meet day-to-day business needs.

Why do businesses need it?
According to Forrester, low-code platforms have the potential to make software development as much as 10 times faster than traditional methods. So, if an application requires an average of six months and costs $18 an hour to build by skilled developers, low-code can greatly reduce this to three to four weeks at a fraction of the cost.

Low-code, however, should not be confused with “no-code development”. In low-code, developers can access and tweak codes using Java and Node.JS that bring out more complex and customised enterprise solutions. Whereas, no-code platforms have far more limited functionality—often oriented around spreadsheets.

LCAD also eases legacy systems’ modernisation, encourages faster development, provides improved user experience, boosts operational efficiency and increases return-on-investment. Simply put, investing in low-code cuts down on time and IT costs that go into planning, designing, implementing, migrating and/or adding new features to an application —which would otherwise require long and more complex processes as well as more skilled hands on deck.

The rise of low-code in the MENA region
As the world is becoming open to remote and hybrid work cultures, cloud technology is gaining traction. As businesses discover how cloud-based apps can help them quickly pivot and adapt to changing market scenarios, we are likely to see more and more companies move to cloud. Low-code is making waves worldwide and is expected to continue on an upward trajectory post-pandemic as ‘Anything as a Service’ (XaaS) sets up to be the future of cloud technology. Gartner predicts that by 2024 low-code application development will account for more than 65 per cent of application development.

Likewise, the low-code wave could, too, be felt in the MENA region over the next years, as more companies begin to embrace cloud technology. Low-code platforms can be used to create apps for nearly every industry and for various functions ranging from business process management (BPM), dashboards, mobile apps, database and asset management, portals, and workflows to mission-critical apps.

In a fast-changing economy, low-code enables businesses to be nimble and can prove to be the differentiator needed for success.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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