Note that this article is the second of a two part series on the differences between low code and BPM. To see part 1, click here.
Despite the downside, it’s not all bad with BPM. The fact is there are some things BPMs are really good at. Composing automated workflows is a given, of course. But BPMs offer much more than simple workflow, the ability to manage updates to automated processes mid-execution, to name just one. And the fact is enterprise-class, low-code process platforms can do most of the BPM stuff. Which brings us back to the fundamental difference between low code and BPM—it’s really, more ideological than technological.
Moving Past the Big Four
As was already mentioned, the big four value props of BPM are efficiency optimization, governance, risk mitigation, and compliance—all compelling to the COO but often just a pain in the neck to everyone else. So what is interesting to people in the trenches? The quick answer is anything that will make their lives easier. And that’s where low code hits its stride.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest problems with BPM is the force behind it—operational efficiency, which efficiency may only be apparent to senior executives. For individuals in a complex, cross-functional process, automation may make their jobs more difficult. By eliminating the ultimate goal, though, of overall efficiency on corporate processes that span departments, lines of business, systems of record, etc. and, instead focusing on what’s actually problematic for individuals within a functional group, the dynamics of workflow/business app development change dramatically.
Making Lives Easier
Suppose, for example, that someone in some department realizes that a serious bottleneck could be eliminated by creating a simple trigger app—maybe when someone drags something into a SharePoint list, several other events are performed automatically (accounts could be created, data could be updated, notifications could be sent . . . whatever.)
With low-code, not only could such an app be created without C-suite oversight and without deep analysis into how it affects an uber complex, enterprise-wide process, the app could be created without so much as mentioning it to the IT department. (Note that what I’m describing, here, is what Gartner calls “shadow development.”) In fact, the person who had the idea to begin with—given a certain level of computer literacy—could actually build the app herself.
Herein lies the universal appeal of low code—lightweight, simple, unobtrusive, build what you need when you need it.
Low Code in a Nutshell
In a recent webinar, Forrester’s Clay Richardson, a leading authority on low code, sums up its benefits as follows:
On-the-Fly Requirements Discovery
Low code platforms are declarative, model-driven environments, enabling software design to be, for lack of a better analogy, something like a Lego experience—dragging the necessary pieces and parts onto a canvas and configuring them to have specific characteristics. Because the process is so fast, it’s often easier to just begin building an app using trial and error, rather than spend weeks or months defining system requirements. This experimentation-approach to system development often helps teams uncover hidden value in apps.
Live Trial Business Ideas at Low Or No Cost
Because apps are so easy to build, it’s possible to stage live trials of new apps in days, hours, or even minutes of conception. Associated costs of development and testing are minimal.
Deploy and Scale Apps in Minutes
Once deployed and tested, extending access to low code apps, depending on the platform in question, would take hardly any time at all.
Generate Mobile Apps from Older Apps
Teams are able to build new mobile apps without utilizing traditional mobile-app platforms, such as SWIFT, Xcode, or Android. Rather, using a low-code platform, teams are often able to take existing apps and transform them into mobile apps.
Expand Development Resources Cost Effectively
While enterprise-class low-code platforms are not for computing neophytes, teams have learned that junior software developers or developers without formal computer-science training can easily learn low-code development, and produce sophisticated, cross-functional, hybrid business apps that will run on any type of device in a relatively short amount of time.
The Age of the Customer
One of the compelling ideological differences between BPM and low code is a byproduct of the stage of evolution of the IT industry. BPM was the province of Operations—intended almost entirely for use within an organization. But as Clay Richardson points out, we are now in the “Age of the Customer.” And one of the most compelling characteristics of low-code platforms is that they can be used to create systems of engagement. In other words, low-code apps can be used to interconnect an enterprise with its ecosystem—employees, channel partners, and customers.
Note that this article is the second of a two part series. To see part 1, click here.