What are no-code platforms and how can they speed digitalization?

Man in white coat holding a mobile device: From medicine to industry, no-code platforms can speed up digitalization across a range of sectors.

From medicine to industry, no-code platforms can speed up digitalization across a range of sectors. Image: Unsplash/National Cancer Institute

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  • Due to data siloes, the digital transition is occurring slower than needed.
  • No-code platforms could make a critical difference in maximizing digitalization’s potential.
  • Organizations that don’t adapt to more agile ways of developing could lag and find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Digitalization is revolutionizing how we live and work. Transitioning classic processes and systems to function with computers, the internet and mobile devices is making a range of sectors – from medicine to industry – more efficient and productive, all while creating more powerful data for increasingly effective insights.

However, data siloes are slowing the digital transition needed, meaning many industries cannot participate fully in a modern economy. No-code solutions, however, could make a critical difference in maximizing digitalization’s potential.

What are no-code and low-code platforms?

Low-code and no-code platforms allow developers to build applications and software with minimum or no coding. The efficiency and speed this will unlock will enable the delivery of large-scale, complex IT systems and applications.

It will also provide the power and capability to amalgamate new applications’ data with legacy system data to create a true data ecosystem.

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How have no-code and low-code platforms evolved?

The first generations of no-code platforms were developed nearly 30 years ago and still comprise almost 95% of the low-codes/no-codes on the global market.

While these platforms did not initially offer the flexibility and depth needed for enterprise-grade applications, these technologies have evolved since. The resulting second and third generations provide more dimensions and depth through the complex work of human-built modelling (model-driven low-codes).

The current fourth generation of data-driven and enterprise-grade no-codes is an emerging technology developed less than a decade ago. They leverage intelligent data to enable auto-modelling, providing the ultimate flexibility modelling on the spot.

Business users or IT staff can thus construct complex enterprise-grade software and applications using data from heterogeneous sources as building blocks. As a result, data capabilities are indigenously built-in throughout all applications and integrated with legacy systems.

This latest iteration is highly agile. Driven by data auto-modelling without human intervention, these platforms eliminate the need for human-built modelling. They are also flexible enough to adapt to front-end changes and new requirements.

What are the benefits of no-code platforms?

No-code platforms benefit from time and cost efficiencies and collaboration:

  • Speed. No-code means a faster cycle and less time fixing bugs. Since data-driven no-code technology can adapt to any front-end changes and new functionalities requirements, they significantly reduce lead time to deliver applications and software – from one to two years via traditional software development to three to six weeks.
  • Reduced costs. No-code allows non-IT staff – including business users, operational staff, managers and junior staff – to build bespoke workflows and applications around their particular needs, reducing the need to retain expensive senior skilled IT staff who will be harder to hire as global human resource shortages continue, thus removing costly skill and resource bottlenecks for organizations.
  • Increased collaboration. A development environment shared by business users on the front end and the IT team allows a roundtable approach to developing, ensuring applications are more customized to users’ particular requirements and used more frequently. Intelligent data-enabled auto-modelling makes it easier to make changes at every step of the roundtable to adapt to front-end requirements while shortening development cycles.
How no-code platforms shorten development cycles.
How no-code platforms shorten development cycles. Image: Smardaten Technologies

What role do no-code platforms play in data quality?

No-code data platforms bridge the gap between IT teams and front-end business and operational teams across a company, making it easier for any end-user, even those without coding knowledge, to extract accurate data for real-time analytics. These platforms often feature a simple, friendly user interface, drag-and-drop functionality, point-and-click capabilities and other features that enhance use and scalability while reducing development time for development teams.

Data-driven no-code helps business users and operational staff without IT skills build workflows, data analytics, predictions, and applications that are moulded around their business case requirements and logic. Therefore, they tend to use the system they helped build more frequently and generate optimal digitalization outcomes and business values.

Data-driven no-code platforms solve a range of pain points.
Data-driven no-code platforms solve a number of pain points. Image: Smardaten Technologies

How do no-code platforms speed digitalization?

No-code platforms play a key role in data integration. Every organization’s IT system has served as its own silo for decades with unique data naming, definition, measurement, quality and standards. For example, “revenue” in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system might be named “turnover” in an accounting system or “sales” in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. However, each refers to the same data. With no uniform standard for naming and measurement, the data cannot be channelled across systems and siloes are created.

This silo phenomenon can hinder front-end users’ ability to gain timely and accurate analysis and insights from data extraction. Most often, business users encounter “errors” or inconsistencies when they try to deliver insights.

Traditionally, to remove data silo issues and ready data for front-end users, many SQL programmers must work weeks or months in data extraction, transformation and loading (ETL). Now, with automated ETL in some data-driven no-code platforms, machine automation can tackle this laborious and heavy workload in just hours.

Data-driven enterprise class no-code can create a data ecosystem. Companies can pull all legacy systems’ data onto a single no-code platform and put all data across systems under the single data standard management system. Integrated legacy systems serve as a data foundation – a root of a larger tree – helping to grow an unlimited number of new applications and software, generate more and more data that feeds back into the data foundation (i.e. the root of the tree), to increase data asset value, all with minimum human intervention.

Consequently, all legacy system data can talk with the same uniformed language, eliminating data silo barriers. As the data foundation is built with an all-in-one data governance system, it leverages a single data standard to manage all legacy system data and, therefore, can effectively eliminate data silo issues, one of the major causes of digitalization failure.

Where will progress come the fastest?

Enterprise systems will benefit most from low-code and no-code platforms. For instance, in industrial parks, no-code platforms help break down siloes across different functions, improving large-scale safety monitoring (preventing and responding to issues such as fires more effectively) and even an understanding of which equipment needs which parts replaced in real-time, without requiring a human on-site.

Eliminating maintenance slowdowns and improving safety, in turn, speeds productivity and improves elements such as energy efficiency.

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What holds back no-code platform adoption?

The potential of enterprise-grade, data-driven no-code platforms remains largely unknown to the market; more awareness is key. Organizations currently hire developers or programmers and often outsource to IT companies offshore, traditionally the only way to meet certain solutions’ needs. At a baseline level, companies must understand the needs that could be met by data-driven no-code platforms and the new capabilities that can be built to maximize the latest technologies.

Organizations must build this awareness so that companies are informed and can divert resources to help new teams learn these new systems and build new habits, facilitating these platforms across organizations and reducing reluctance to deploy them.

This shift will be critical to adapting to ever-shortening technology cycles. No-code and low-code platforms allow companies to move quickly. Those that do not adapt to more agile ways of developing large-scale, complex IT systems and applications could lag and find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

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