The pressure is on for faster app development. How to up your game

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Organizations are increasingly turning to low-code solutions to meet rising demand for faster application development.

“In the last two quarters, we’re starting to see a shift in folks making clear investment strategies in low-code platforms,” said Luis Giraldo, Vice President, Value Consulting Americas with OutSystems at a CanadianCIO virtual roundtable. “It’s part of a seismic shift in how IT has become an essential part of the business to drive real benefits.”

A low or no-code platform allows developers to create applications in a visual drag and drop environment using ready-made components. Giraldo said that production cycles are three to seven times faster with this approach. “It’s about driving automation around software delivery,” he said.

“We have to be more agile to deal with customer demands,” added Jim Love, ITWC CIO. “We don’t have the luxury of time to talk about it.”

Low code drives big benefits

The “big plays” in using a low-code platform to develop new applications are cost reduction, greater efficiency and improved user experience, explained Giraldo. “There is so much low-hanging fruit,” he said. “You can see real efficiency gains in some of the not-so-sexy work.” For example, Giraldo said that many organizations are using it to optimize the front-end experience in legacy CRM or HR applications. It helps organizations get to market quickly and adapt to change.

“The biggest driver is empowering business to be more flexible and more in control of the workflows,” said a participant from a government agency. The IT leader said that, every two weeks, his team seeks feedback on its applications from a subset of business users with a view to continuous development. “Because it’s low code, we can change it very quickly.”

The platform also helps organizations cope with the talent gap, said Giraldo. “Sixty-seven per cent of CIOs say skill shortages hold them back from transformation,” he said. “We have to enable business users to be part of the process because of talent and financial constraints.”

One CIO expressed concern about potential governance and compliance problems if IT doesn’t maintain centralized control of application development. “Governance still plays a critical role, especially with the remote workforce,” said Giraldo. “There is no pixie dust here.”

It’s time to get agile

Many organizations start using low-code to improve processes, but Giraldo said it’s also being used to develop enterprise-level applications in telehealth, digital banking and insurance. “OutSystems has a full-stack application platform so that organizations can move away from point solutions to scale across the enterprise,” he said. The solution can be deployed on-premises or on the public or private cloud

Organizations that want to get started should be open to experimentation, recommended Giraldo. After examining their needs and urgencies, rapid prototyping will allow them to quickly figure out the “art of the possible,” he said.

While many organizations are moving to the cloud, legacy is here to stay. Giraldo said.  “We have to look at innovative tech that can co-exist with what we have today. Development cycles of 12 to 18 months are going away. We have to think about delivery within three to six months. Rapidness and agility will be required, not months away, but tomorrow.”

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