One of the most significant trends in the software industry in recent times are the low code platforms .
What does low code mean?
It’s a paradigm for programmers and non-programmers which allows you to develop and deploy applications quickly and with a small amount of code (or even without code!). Using a low code platform (LCP) you can create apps with drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG methods in order to see the finished results in real time during the creation process.
Low code development can also be an answer to two important problems in the tech industry:
- The growing shortage of software developers: in 2020 the 55% of the EU companies which were hiring had difficulties finding these experts .
- The gap between business requirements and development results: different studies found that the main barrier to digital transformation was the fact that business and IT teams often are in different “silos” [3, 4].
By using a low code platform, you may give business users and process owners the resources they need to develop new applications and streamline existing ones on their own, with minimal technical support.
The concept that non-technical users can independently develop applications for themselves is so revolutionary that someone even came up with a term for this role: citizen developer. This is the definition given by Gartner:
“A citizen developer is an employee who creates application capabilities for consumption by themselves or others, using tools that are not actively forbidden by IT or business units. A citizen developer is a persona, not a title or targeted role. They report to a business unit or function other than IT” 
Importance of IT department role
To understand the role of the IT department in the context of low code platforms, some facts need to be highlighted:
- Anyone who works in the world of software development knows that coding is only a part of their job. In addition to coding, it is necessary to do technical analysis, planning, design, testing, version control, deployment etc. Even low code application development, therefore, will have to involve a process very similar to classic software development with the difference that the coding part would be very limited. “Citizen developers” will necessarily have to be familiar with these processes, which will have to be applied during low code app development.
- The ease with which low code apps can be created could lead to a complex ecosystem of apps that could impact enterprise IT infrastructure. Without proper management, low code apps could be out of IT’s control fueling the phenomenon of Shadow IT.
- Finally, low code platforms are primarily cloud-based services (platform as a service – PaaS), so it will be necessary to provide APIs for sharing enterprise data. Exposure of sensitive data could lead to security issues if low code platforms are not chosen carefully .
For all these reasons, low code platforms should be chosen and managed directly by the IT department, which should also play a role in controlling the app development processes. This would lead to several benefits including:
- A standardization of the app development processes.
- A centralized control of low code platforms with the aim of authorizing only those that do not present security issues.
- A centralized control of APIs and shared data.
At the end of this section, let me say that low code platforms should become a development tool also for “real” developers. I find very interesting the idea of using a hybrid approach to software development by introducing low code applications to the classical approach that could bring efficiency in different business scenarios.
During my experience as a software engineer I have realized that the things that are really interesting to me about this field are mainly two:
- The possibility to create value and positively improve people’s lives.
- The possibility to solve interesting and difficult problems.
With the cautions described in this blog, I believe that the use of low code platforms can be a fantastic way to achieve these two goals more quickly and easily and without the “code barrier”. It actually opens the door to a whole class of non-technical creators and founders who were previously limited by not having a software programming background.
- Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Low-Code Development Technologies Market to Grow 23% in 2021.
- The European market potential for software development services.
- Dynatrace – Global CIO Report.
- Bridging the Understanding Gap between Business and IT.
- Gartner – Citizen Developer.
- OWASP Top 10 Low-Code/No-Code Security Risks.