Learn the differences between low-code and traditional development

Learn the differences between low-code and traditional development

Digital transformation using low-code development platforms is a fact! Not just a quick trend; not a useless way of applying technology; not just a “nice thing” to do in an organization! It is a fact and so, that is why time has come for CEO, CIO, CTO (and some other c-levels) really think about it and, above all, act.

The market is surrounded by the so-called “born digital” companies, the ones that have grown up with the current state of ubiquitous computing and communications, characterized by technology like smartphones, social media and near-continuous wi-fi networks. They are prepared and able to take the most out of technological competitive advantages.

They are run by digital natives, usually considered to include the Millennial generation (sometimes referred to as “Generation Y”), who came of age roughly around the turn of the 21st century, and the generation following them, the so-called “Generation Z”.

For those organizations born “a long time ago”, the time is now to catch the digital train. It is time to adapt their business models to those new competitors and to the new rhythm of the market in order not to lose competitiveness.

With low-code, organizations can quickly deliver new applications and functionalities to keep up with, or disrupt, their markets. That’s one of the reasons why low-code is a key enabler for digital transformation.

Although today’s companies are aware of the need for digital transformation, the truth is that, according to IDC, in Portugal, 27% of medium and large companies are still at level 1 (on a scale of 1 to 5) in the Maturity model for digital transformation (numbers by 2016). This compares to 20% in Western Europe and 13% in the USA.

But technology has, in this case, an important role on the way to support digital transformation. According to Gartner, 2.2 million terabytes of new data are created every day and the forecast is that by 2020 there will be a total of 40 trillion gigabytes of data in the world.

This new capacity to deal with and understand data must be viewed by organizations as the basis and driving force of digital transformation because business models are defined by concepts that imply efficiency and benefit to companies.

That being said, organizations should start to understand which is the most comfortable way for them: to develop digital transformation solutions using traditional development or the low-code mode.

But, what do we mean by low-code versus traditional programming? Take a look at our ideas!

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First things first:

What is low-code? 

Low-code is a way to design and develop software fast and with minimal hand-coding. It enables skilled people to deliver value more quickly and more reliably. Developers skip all the infrastructure and re-implementation of patterns that can mean trouble and go straight to the unique 10% of an application.

Interesting Fact: Although not given a specific name until June 9, 2014 – by industry analyst, Forrester Research –, the low-code development platform market can be traced back to 2011.

According to IDC FutureScapes, one of the ten global tendencies in the market is that, in 2021, due to new low-code and no-code tools, more than 10% of enterprise applications and 25% of new application features will not be developed by programmers.

1. The difference is the key 

For sure there are some important differences between “traditional” developing and low-code (or, should we say, block programming VS coding).

Low-code promises the ability to quickly fulfil customer demand without a huge army of (very) expensive IT personnel. In fact, low-code tools can supposedly be used by anybody, the so-called “citizen programmers”, without problems; but it would be better to let them to your preferred developer partner, the one who has the experience and the knowledge to work with low-code in a usefully way!

Gartner predicts that by 2022, citizen developers will be building more than one-third of web and mobile employee-facing apps delivered in organizations with mature citizen development initiatives. 

Although the majority of low-code users are professional IT developers (69 percent), 44 percent are business users in collaboration with IT – in other words, citizen developers.
Outsystems, provider of the number one low-code application development platform speaks about the need for solutions that combine ease of use and governance.

On the other hand, low-code development platforms (LCDPs) allow the creation of application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional procedural computer programming.

LCDPs may produce entirely operational applications or require just minimal coding to extend the functionality of the application or for other strange situations.

In traditional programming, the code executed in a particular run of a program depends only on the inputs to it, starting with the first line of code and following a way through the program, calling subroutines as needed.

This kind of programming allows a programmer to specify precisely what data a computer will act on, how this data will be stored or transmitted, and what actions should be taken under various circumstances. Programming languages can be used to express algorithms accurately.

2. It isn’t all about the money

When someone invests in a new project, the first thing that comes in mind is money; the budget is always limited and, most frequently, CTOs have to do their math’s in order to get exactly where they want to.

Although it may be more expensive to work on OutSystems low-code platform, the fact is that, by the end of the day, balance is positive just because of the number of different backgrounds and skills one has to have in order to assure a “traditional” developing well succeeded. It will make the costs higher just because organizations will have to add to the project things like training, salaries of highly specialized technicians, infrastructures and equipment needed to support a larger team.

In fact, according to “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Pros, Q1 2019″ OutSystems has been recognized as a leader in Latest Low-Code Platforms Industry Report. This marked the ninth recognition as a Leader for OutSystems from independent industry analyst firms and the fourth in less than a year.

Before deciding be sure to look at:

  • Functionality covering the widest range of use cases
  • Global customer ranking – product, service, and support on customer review sites
  • Roadmap delivery – for mobile, cloud-native, security, scale and large core systems

Also, don’t forget to check the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, 2019.

3. Time: an important portion of the equation

In today’s digital high speed and volatile world, low-code is the answer to successful development as it removes complexity from projects; once again, reduced complexity means faster working times and a perfect time-to-market.

With these low-code benefits, organizations are better equipped to quickly adapt and respond to nowadays fast-changing business conditions. And, as a business manager, we all know how crucial that is. Time flashes before our eyes as everything changes at the speed of light.

The truth is that companies today need multi-functional software made simple.

4. Bring change to your project…rapidly!

Low-code development makes things like changing and adapting to new requirements a very easy work. Without a need to get into complex coding, the fact is that low-code development simplifies instantaneous and fast changes when it’s needed, whether we are talking about software or applications.

The concept of low-code/no-code development platform (LCNC platform):

A low-code/no-code (LCNC) development platform is a visual integrated development environment (IDE) that allows citizen developers to drag-and-drop application components, connect them together and create a mobile or web app.

In a world where time is money (or, should we say, clients) the final solution must be the right answer to all the problems. Just because, if it does not work properly, clients will rapidly look for a better app in the (very crowded) competitors market.

The longer it takes for organizations to get things done, the more clients they may be losing! Check the example of a legal management system, leveraged by the use of an agile development platform (rapid delivery of applications), that supports Digital Transformation processes and can be easily adapted to business specific needs.

In the era of digital transformation, organizations must have the ability to quickly adapt to a new business model. To ignore this reality is to (consciously) put competitiveness aside and let business die, slowly, day-by-day.

The option here is to choose low-code as a developing tool, allowing your company a rapid return on investment. Lesser time needed means higher ROI for each and every one of the projects supported by low-code. That being said, traditional development may and should be used to work on specific details.

What companies choose will always depend upon an analysis of the real necessities they have; that is a study that should be made by the organization itself with the precious help of a developer partner.

Blue Screen IT Solutions is a systems integrator and software development partner of OutSystems. The company works with specialized teams to assist customers and make sure they will have an excellent experience with low-code development and can help your business.

This text was last updated on October 2019.