In a recent report, “Vendor Landscape: The Fractured, Fertile Terrain Of Low-Code Application Platforms,” Forrester analysts Clay Richardson and John Rymer point out three myths relating to low code platforms. Because I think they hit the nail on the head with these three myths, I want to give a quick summary of this small section of the overall report as well as add some commentary.
Myth #1: Low Code Is for Citizen Developers
It’s an article of faith within the low code industry that sophisticated low code apps can be built by citizen developers, i.e., non programmers. And they can, given that, in many cases, a powerful low code platform will enable a system to be built without writing any code. However, there are still many aspects of application design and delivery that everyday business users may not be equipped for. Furthermore, sophistication, power, and flexibility—all critical aspects of a great low code platform—breed complexity. Put another way, building a complex, composite, low code app requires deep knowledge of the platform itself, which could have hundreds of features to be understood and mastered. Serious power users (if that’s your definition of “citizen developer,” then, okay) can pull it off, but let’s just say it’s not for the weak spirited. Consequently, it’s not surprising that the Forrester team rarely encounters real-world scenarios involving genuine citizen development.
In my experience, the people using low code platforms, in most instances, have software development backgrounds. Enterprises employing low code strategies (what Gartner would call mode 2 development) do so because developers can churn out sophisticated low code apps in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional agile development. Beyond sheer speed is another, perhaps more important advantage to low code: less experienced programmers—even hackers—can quickly learn to make a powerful low code platform sing and dance. In other words, low code dramatically expands the pool of potential developers while significantly reducing labor costs. A real value prop for low code is the ability to innovate at the pace your enterprise requires it at a price point that makes it feasible.
Myth #2: Low Code Means No Code
Myth #3: Low Code Means Small Scale
As Forrester points out, serious system developers may “balk” (even roll their eyes a little) at the notion of developing anything of any size or complexity with a low code platform. But in reality, the state of the art for low code is true enterprise class functionality and extreme scalability. AgilePoint NX, for example, has deep BPM credentials, with all that that entails, along with enterprise-class features, such as single-code-base multi-tenancy, application governance extended into the tenancy layer, and a stateless process engine, which both ensures security and facilitates scalability.
The bottom line is this: Today’s state-of-the-art low code platforms are capable of building anything from simple forms and workflows all the way up to composite line-of-business systems capable of servicing hundreds of thousands of users. They’re powerful, dramatically less expensive than traditional development, and are an emerging class that looks to reshape enterprise IT.