Low Code, No Code, Power User: App development for everyone

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4 min read

Demand for individual software solutions and apps is high in companies but often can't be met due to lacking resources, a complex system landscape, data silos or compliance issues.

Low Code platforms therefore have gained traction since they can help develop solutions without programming skills. Thanks to automation (and AI), the daily work can be optimized with just a few clicks.

Content:

  1. What is a Low Code platform?
  2. Shadow IT: when employees seek their own solutions
  3. Advantages of low-code platforms
  4. Flexibility with low code

What is a Low Code platform?

"Low Code" can be described as a very simple and easy-to-use code (sometimes it's even No Code) that helps make app development easier by transforming the processes needed to create an app.

Instead of using code, users have more visual options to "build" their solutions via drag & drop. The app or workflow logic can also be added via drag & drop or with a simple

scripting language. Coding skills or know-how of IT architectures is not necessary in this case which opens up app development to users outside of IT.

In short, programming building blocks are offered in a way that users can simply choose and combine them to create fully functioning apps, optimize workflows, streamline outdated applications processes and even interact with customers.  

Users of low-code platforms are often referred to as "power users". In the classic Wikipedia definition, power users are users in IT who have a more in-depth system knowledge compared to "average" users and/or use systems very heavily and frequently.

In the low code context, power users can be described as system or platform users from specialist departments who are subject experts and are additionally very familiar with system functionalities. Power users usually have a much higher demand for individual solutions and are - alongside the IT department - the main target group for low-code platforms.

Examples of low-code platforms

Well-known pure low-code platforms include Appian, Zoho Creator and mendix. However, environments such as the Microsoft Power Platform or Salesforce App Cloud are likely to be particularly exciting for companies. Apps can be seamlessly integrated into the existing systems of these and other providers and thus expand functionalities, whether for the entire team, for the company or for individual users.

A blessing for your IT

For internal IT, by the way, a low-code platform is less of a replacement or competitor for IT experts. Quite the contrast, it can help accelerate digitalization, offer a secure environment for app development and experimentation. Common low-code platforms offer all sorts of compliance features that enable the IT so they can keep track of and provide guidelines. Integrated low-code platforms enable the healthy development of apps without large decision chains and additional work due to individual requirements. In addition, they reduce the likelihood that unauthorized apps will pose risks to data protection or compliance (keyword: shadow IT).

Shadow IT: when employees seek their own solutions

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"Shadow IT" refers to the use of applications by employees that are not approved by the corporate IT. Shadow IT hardly ever is being used maliciously, it's rather a sign that users require specific tools and functionalities.

Since the decision-making chain from an initial request to a released application is often lengthy and could include different challenges (such as data protection requirements or compatibility with other systems to avoid data silos), it is not uncommon for employees to secretly use software outside of the corporate portfolio without informing IT.

Obviously, this increases data security risks, can impact corporate standards and create data silos. Since these applications are often used in isolation from other systems, the number of decentralized data sets and processes thus increases which makes data management more difficult and creates longer workflows.

Advantages of low-code platforms

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  • Users have more influence on apps
  • Faster process automation
  • High individualization of applications and processes
  • More diversity in app development (users think differently than developers)
  • Flexible reaction to new developments/requirements
  • More room for experimentation
  • Stronger process know-how
  • Agile app development (basic building block through low code, further development potential via internal IT)
  • Reduced development costs due to less effort at the pilot stage
  • Potential to develop and test multi-value apps for customers before going into "professional" production
  • Development of new product/service groups

Flexibility with low code

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Now, with any (bigger) system decision, requirements catalogs are there to define user requirements. But of course, even a thorough and exemplary selection phase can't possibly take into account how fast work, business, user, and customer requirements can change over the years. New trends, new KPI, new means to interact with customers call for new functionalities and applications. Customers change communication channels, metrics are exchanged, information gains or loses relevance in the customer cycle.

The opportunity to offer employees low code app development expands the ways to optimize processes, workflows, tools, services, and more. Additionally, it can grow a system organically and healthily with established and secure standards and enough breathing room for innovation.

Microsoft's Power Platform enables your IT and other business units to develop individual applications and automate workflows. Find out more. 

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by Florian Kiene

Florian Kiene is Director Functional Consulting Microsoft at DIGITALL. He leads a team of business and technical solution architects who design and deliver solutions that fit specific customers’ needs, create added value, and are based on the Microsoft platform. Florian has over 10 years of experience as a Business Architect in the field of Microsoft Business Applications and has held management positions at DIGITALL. His field of expertise includes the digitalization of processes and the optimization of customer journeys.

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