Low-code: a powerful enabler for the digital transformation

May 13, 2024 | 10:38
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The low-code development platform is emerging as a powerful enabler for digital transformation. Nguyen Ngoc Hoang, director and digital innovation lead at KPMG in Vietnam, explains how it empowers business users to quickly create and adapt applications without the need for specialised programming knowledge and experience.

The current markets and business environments of the companies are being characterised by the rapid changes in customer needs, business requirements, competitors’ activities, and government policies. To respond promptly to these changes, companies need to quickly adopt digital solutions.

Low-code: a powerful enabler for the digital transformation
Low-code platforms enable citizen developers to create apps with minimal coding by hand, Photo: Shutterstock

However, traditional software development is becoming an obstacle in the digital transformation journey. The software development process is known to be long, complex, and inflexible, making software delivery very time, cost, and resource-intensive for many companies.

To enable digital transformation and meet the resulting requirements, software development must change to provide applications faster, more effectively, and more flexibly using agile development methods and automated processes.

Low-code appears as the key enabler to help companies achieve their digital transformation goals. Low-code development platforms empower business users to take control of their digital transformation initiatives by reducing their reliance on IT departments for custom application development.

With low-code platforms, users can easily drag and drop pre-built components and workflows to create their applications without needing extensive programming knowledge. This leads to faster delivery of applications and enables businesses to respond quickly to changing market demands. Low-code platforms are versatile enough to meet the needs of small and large organisations, from startups to complex enterprises, in various industries.

By providing a visual platform for application development, low-code eliminates several barriers, including the skill gap, software testing, and deployment processes. As a result, low-code is becoming the go-to solution for companies looking to scale up their application development while staying competitive in their respective markets.

According to the latest KPMG survey, the top five areas where low-code development is significantly used currently are workflows, optical character recognition, less complex app development, automation, and AI and machine learning. Many of today’s low-code platforms offer easy-to-use comprehensive AI or machine learning mechanisms that also help IT developers easily configure new predictive models, re-train them to keep models up to date, and look at predictive results to analyse some of the most influential factors.

Also according to the survey, the companies plan to deploy low-code developed applications mostly in customer relationship management, e-commerce, sales and marketing, customer portals, customer service, human capital management, and employee portals.

The use of low-code is preferred in operational application areas, particularly in customer-centric business processes. In this way, the daily processes necessary for business operation develop and optimise over time and become company-specific workflows with the aim of achieving higher automation.

Due to dynamic and rapidly changing customer requirements, with an ever-increasing importance of individual customer needs, fast response times and flexible adjustments are required in this area in particular, in order to be able to provide customers with optimal integrated support along their individual customer journey.

Low-code applications in human resources are versatile. Such processes that could be significantly improved include payroll, accounting, time-tracking, digital personnel files, talent management, onboarding processes, and employee self-services.

Quick-win benefits

Low-code platforms offer the enterprises with a wide range of benefits. The first most benefit is the increase in process effectiveness and efficiency within the digital application development life cycle. The development activities which do not require intensive programming each of individual code can be taken over by non-specialist business users who are also known as citizen developers.

The specialist developers can complete the routine activities faster and more efficiently, which thus creates more time for more important and higher value activities.

When making decisions of investing in low-code platform, the business decision-makers often raise questions regarding the impact on the total cost of ownership as compared to traditional software development life cycle while ensuring the possibility of picking and delivering the existing IT backlog, which the list of digital technology features promising to business.

Low-code platforms enable citizen developers to create applications with minimal hand-coding, which can significantly reduce the complexity and duration of the development process. This approach allows for a broader range of people, including those without traditional coding skills, to contribute to application development, thereby democratising the creation of business solutions.

One of the most significant benefits of low-code platforms is their flexibility and scalability. Developing a solution using a low-code platform provides greater flexibility in adapting to future changes or upgrades and can easily integrate with other critical business processes or enterprise application systems. This flexibility ensures solutions can evolve, grow with the company, and meet its changing needs.

Low-code platforms offer businesses a high degree of automation that enables them to increase their productivity, minimise errors, and eliminate the need for manual handling. Automated workflows in low-code platforms can streamline mundane tasks, freeing up time for more critical tasks and increasing efficiency. This high degree of automation leads to faster turnaround times and improved work quality.

Decision factors

While low-code platforms offer businesses potential benefits, there can also be risks associated with their implementation. The company executives should evaluate and plan for these risks to ensure a successful implementation.

- Vendor lock-in – The company executives should carefully evaluate platform providers, ensuring that the platform they choose is flexible and meets both the current and future needs of their organisation.

- Security risks – Like any software platform, low-code platforms are also exposed to security risks. Companies must ensure that the platform and any applications developed using it meet industry standards for security.

- Integration challenges – When selecting a low-code platform, it is essential to consider the company’s existing tech stack and ensure that the new platform can integrate with it effectively.

- Quality and testing – With faster application development, it is essential to ensure that the applications developed using low-code platforms meet quality standards, are tested thoroughly before deployment, and have sufficient maintenance and support.

- Skills gap – Low-code platforms require a different skill set compared to traditional coding methods. Businesses must upskill their IT teams accordingly, ensuring that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to leverage low-code platforms.

By evaluating and planning for these risks, businesses can successfully implement a low-code platform while mitigating any potential downsides. With careful planning, the right platform, and training, businesses can realise the full potential of low-code platforms.

To realise the expected benefits of low-code development, a change in thinking and culture is necessary. Successful low-code implementation must address not only the employees, but also IT and business managers.

Low-code: a powerful enabler for the digital transformation

Nguyen Ngoc Hoang,
director and digital innovation lead at KPMG in Vietnam

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