You might have heard about this trend already as No-Code, or Zero-Code, or even visual programming. Simply put, No-Code is a methodology and a set of tools and platforms that can be used individually or integrated by programmers or no-programmers, in order to develop fully functional digital projects like websites, mobile Apps, business process applications/automations, reports, without writing a single line of code or without knowing any programming language.
How can this be done? By using graphical user interface and advanced configuration instead of traditional programming. Now most of these tools give the option for the user to inject lines of code in it and these platforms are called "Low-Code platforms". By being able to add code, the complexity of the projects that can be developed with No-Code tools starts to become bigger and bigger.
On top of these, other No-Code Platforms have been developed to play the role of the intermediator between No/Low-Code apps and most of the big established digital platforms like Google, Microsoft etc, that make important integrations between them for more complex (in functionality) but easy (in development) digital ecosystems.
It might sounds too good to be true but is true and is good and it is here and until a significant point, it can be free.
When most of the people hear of No/Low-Code Platforms, their first impression is that they can build some landing pages by using a WordPress wizard. Well a No/Low-Code platform is much more than this.
Those who know me know that I hate over-promising words like "everything" or "limitless". I prefer to be more specific and realistic whenever I put my word on a topic and in order to answer this question more realistically I will use an example:
Supposing that you start a new company. What digital tools are you going to need that you can build with no code tools?
A simple website and a blog - YES
A small e-shop - YES
An internal process management application - YES (Raw material management, Warehouse Management, Inventory management)
ERP - YES
Invoicing - YES
CRM & Loyalty - YES
Project Management tools - YES
Integration with accounting software - YES
Integration with existing productivity tools - YES (Google, MS Office, Cloud drives)
Have we forgotten many? - YES
As you see in the example above almost everything can be developed with No/Low-Code platforms and actually everything that already exists can be integrated to it.
Dropping some quick thoughts on what it can't be developed, that would be mostly applications that require not so ordinary hardware input devices than the common keyboard, mouse, barcode, draw pads. For example devices like sensors or custom devices but still, only the direct interconnection is quite hard to achieve since data can be input separately and by doing calculations you can get the same results.
The biggest challenge of most of the start ups is their dependence on technical resources in order to develop their products. Many people have great ideas that require several thousands of dollars to be developed. That's why we notice many tech people as co-founders in many startups. It is not always their idea but they have to get equity in order to help with their skills to develop the product.
No/Low-Code Platforms give the ability to anyone with some brain focus skills to develop MVPs that can be tested in the real market saving tones of waste money and even excluding the need for big financings or forced partnerships that last for a life. This is an extra boost for sales and marketing people as till now, the main skill for developing a tech startup was the technical one. So startup owners can now focus on building empathy with their clients rather than code blocks.
Many people will say there is a (even free) digital tool for every need of any business size and here is where I always say that every business is different. Every owner puts a different part of his own soul to his business and that part creates different process needs that only apply to him. These are his success factors and the failure factors of those who try to copy the same values as they have to be original in order to work.
Each of these processes require a different design pattern, a different management model and big applications do not serve other than the big scope. No/Low-Code Platforms are here to help the owner build his "special" needs and integrate them with the main company tools without the need of super expensive customisations of the company's digital tools.
Big company in our digital sphere means many digital tools, tones of data and information, amazing possibilities in decision making. However data from so many sources can be chaotic instead of being beneficial if not managed properly.
No code is here to help companies build some easy processes and automations of managing and integrating complex data, showing it in the right way, to the right people in order to get the right decisions that will generate business success.
After having killed myself to develop several complex excel files in my life, I have concluded that those who have requested these excel files cared mostly about having an excel rather than the actual data. If they cared about the data in it they would have asked for another tool. I consider excel to be the censorship of numbers as it is a representation of how the creator of the single file understands the data and not how it should be in order for the right decision to be taken. With a no code tool you can build robust applications that take the raw data and present it in all possible ways, so each stakeholder can review data based on his own skills and mindset and create thoughts and ideas that will lead to OOB decisions.
To conclude, no code is for every business of of every size. Is not only about low cost or low technical effort. Is not only about ease either. Is about giving the option to owners and internal resources to build in reasonable costs and with low effort custom digital tools that will help them in one or more of the below:
To manage and show data in order to be taken right business decisions that will lead faster to success.
To automate and manage internal/external processes on each company's special way.
To manage client relationships and organise the communication within specific flows and procedures that respect the company values.
To develop fast MVPs, READY to be tested and EASY to be modified based on feedback without the need of heavy technical resources or without dependency on tech co-founders or big financings.
To build tools that will serve specific objectives for a limited lifetime and then die or be left idle till re-use.
To protect internal processes and keep knowledge inside the company.
To kill all complex excel files and chaotic organising procedures in this universe.
To be creative and create original OOB procedures
It is very well known that digital transformation is a topic that bothers many organisations over the last decade. Automating processes will increase speed and performance and will result to data generation that will help the companies take the most efficient decisions possible in the minimum time and budget.
This was the reason for a company to take the digital transformation direction before the Covid-19 period.
Nowadays, with Covid-19 as a business partner, digital transformation is a one-way direction and essential for the survival of the company. Having all the labor force working from distance the communication and collaboration becomes harder so more companies have been touching lately No/Low-code solutions trying to build new processes and automations that will integrate them in to larger business applications and help their people to collaborate more efficiently while at the same time keeping track and control.
Well, yes and no.
Let's see it from financial point of view.
The overall No/Low Code market size in 2018 was around 6 Billion Dollars. It is estimated that is going to be 52-55 billion Dollars in 2024. This is a 50% yearly growth rate which is remarkable and it shouldn't be left unnoticed.
However, it should never be considered that any of these platforms would ever replace developers, as developers will always be needed to develop and improve No/Low Code platforms. Is like the egg and chicken paradox.
In order to answer the subject's question, the only big thing about No/Low code, is that soon (and in the context of Covid-19 even sooner), all modern companies will use one of these no/low code platforms in order to build some custom automations or processes that will serve temporary or permanent needs fast, costless and with their own resources securing in this way their knowledge and expertise.
If that by itself is not the next big thing then the real next big thing would be the integration of the no/low code philosophy with AI and Big Data. When AI will be ready, integration of AI capability with big data and no/low code platforms can help to build on spot solutions based on human language requests.
"Hey Siri, can you tell me how my sales would be affected if I increased my price by 1 Dollar next year?"
"Hey Siri, can you tell me what percentage of my existing clients likes travelling on what percentage does actually travel?"
"Hey Siri, What should be our next blog article about?"
Yeah, we like it too..