What is enterprise low-code? Enterprise low-code is a way to design and develop software applications fast and with minimal hand-coding. It enables skilled people to deliver value more quickly and more reliably. Using visual modelling in a graphical interface to assemble and configure applications, developers skip all the infrastructure and re-implementation of patterns that can bog them down and go straight to the unique 10% of an application.
Not all low-code platforms (technologies) are the same
Low-code development platforms are visual-based, integrated development environments (IDEs) using of many of the same tools and functionality developers and IT teams use separately to design, code, deploy, and manage an application portfolio. As with any product, low-code application development platforms vary greatly in terms of the developer experience and functionality.
Since Forrester’s early coining of the term “low-code” in their New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications report, other leading analyst firms have covered low-code vendors under various names and acronyms. MADP and hpaPaas are a couple of examples. And while there are more than 100 vendors now claiming to reside in the “low-code platform” space, not all low-code platforms are created equally.
Enterprise low-code vs. niche Platforms
Niche platforms claiming to be “low-code” are designed to satisfy a strict business need, such as business process management (BPM), case management, and even customer relations management (CRM). Some have been around as long as true low-code development platforms. However, given the recent meteoric success of low-code, many now find it profitable to recast themselves as low-code development platforms. For these offerings, low-code is a feature, not a definition of what the tool offers. They can claim to be low-code thanks to a scaled-down visual development IDE allowing for the creation of apps that work within the software’s own framework and architecture to make up its inherent limitations. They are purpose-built for a narrow use case and often good at what they were built for; but, they won’t satisfy the full enterprise suite of use-cases for digital transformation.
Enterprise low-code vs. No-Code
No-code platforms also fall into the “niche” category due to their limited ability to satisfy the full enterprise spectrum of use-cases. No-code platforms are designed entirely with the citizen developer in mind. Citizen developers are technically-minded IT personnel not classically trained as professional developers, but who have the tacit blessing from IT to develop new applications that serve the business; usually for internal use. Simpler to use than a low-code platform geared for the enterprise? Yes. But, they are extremely limited when it’s time to develop custom applications. Many organisations that invest in no-code platforms get pushback from professional developers due to the inherent customisation limitations enforced by no-code architectures.
Enterprise low-code vs. Bi-Modal
Innovation-focused tools are better suited for organisations using in a bi-modal environment. Bi-modal teams’ innovation projects are focused almost exclusively on the front-end, hoping to layer new functionality on top of existing systems rather than modernising core systems simultaneously and without (hopefully) impacting performance and delivery. While bi-modal IT tools may satisfy short-term innovation goals, as the organisation grows and needs change, these solutions will not keep up with the enterprise’s growing digital delivery requirements.
Enterprise low-code: In a class by itself
Take the limitations of niche and no-code platforms and turn them into capabilities instead, and you’ll have a low-code platform worthy of the label “enterprise-class.” Does every organisation need an enterprise-level product? Probably not. But before deciding on one or the other, it helps to know where the business is now, where it’s going, and what tools will get it there - hopefully without having to switch vendors and start over in the process.
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