A new age of innovation
While this shift towards democratization has already proven to be powerful, in many ways, it's just a taste of what's to come. In this first report in a series exploring the impact and implications of low-code/no-code platforms, we're highlighting how their adoption could create a revolutionary movement even more disruptive than anything that's come before.
Low-code/no-code platforms (LCNC) are software development environments that enable people with little or no coding experience to build and modify applications. These platforms empower business users to quickly and easily deliver new capabilities on demand, without having to rely on hard-pressed development teams.
Low-code no-code (LCNC) promises to ignite a "Cambrian" explosion of user-generated innovation and creativity. In 2021 alone, LCNC platforms are predicted to account for 75% of app development, and this trend is likely to grow as 60% of current low-code/no-code users expect their weekly usage of the platform to increase; some as much as 30% or more. And it promises to be a record year for investment activity too, with around 128 deals worth more than US$2 billion.
Democratization on this scale marks a fundamental shift in who can innovate and create value from technology and how that value is created. Ways of working and managing/governing technology-based innovation would need to change completely. And enterprise IT, already deluged by preceding waves of change, should now be ready for the low-code/no-code revolution that's about to break out.
From "bring your own" to "make your own"
So, what's accelerating LCNC adoption? Principally, the relentless pressure to innovate and solve problems faster than ever. Nearly one-third (28%) of companies say that while they are currently delivering at the pace of business, they're doing so without proper tools and processes at scale. What's more, 20% of companies admit to having more than 50 initiatives in their backlog.
Clearly, this is unsustainable. Enterprise-wide access to the right technology tools is now important to organizations' ability to create and deliver exceptional experiences for their customers, employees and society. Our research highlights the massive impact this has on competitiveness: companies that can focus their entire organization—the C-suite, all functions, and every employee—around delivering exceptional experiences, outperform their peers by six times in year-on-year profitability over one, three, five and seven years.
From an IT perspective, the trends driving LCNC are familiar – the move from client-server to SaaS/cloud and composite apps, along with the shifting control of IT spend that's been gradually moving over to the business in recent years. Decentralization trends, such as BYO devices, have been in motion for years but were rapidly accelerated during the pandemic.
Remote working brought new requirements for secure environments to reflect the shift of the office into the user's home. At the same time, the consumerization of tech has changed user expectations about the entire experience of work, with easy access via apps and interfaces that give them more intuitive control over how and where they get things done.
In short, closed systems are opening out and a whole new set of people are engaging with technology within the enterprise and broader ecosystems. "Bring your own" is fast becoming "make your own" as a new set of citizen developers take advantage of rapidly advancing LCNC tools.
A movement whose moment has come
In many ways, LCNC is part of a continuum. Think about how Excel proliferated across organizations, bringing database functionality to ordinary users that, for the first time, gave them the freedom to work independently on their projects. Likewise, platforms like Pega, started the democratization ball rolling some years ago by providing easily configurable and customizable CRM and BPM capabilities.
However, today's crucial difference is the massive explosion of new use cases that offer the tantalizing possibility of unlocking substantial value potential. Our research among C-level executives shows that 73% see LCNC as drivers of new customer-facing applications, 55% see it creating new process flows that complement packaged products, and 50% see it creating new business rules and process controls.