Based on the latest data, the low code market is estimated to reach a value of $ 187 billion by 2030 (increased to $ 10.3 billion in 2019).
The reason for this growth lies in the increasing pressure of IT to add value to the business – accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and deadlocks – and the limitations of traditional development that hinder developer productivity and increase backlog jobs. Low code development with its visual approach to coding can enable your existing development teams to build high-quality multi-experience applications faster (if you’re looking for the benefits of low code, we have a full article on this topic).
Unfortunately, hot technology attracts a wide variety of vendors and posers. While it may seem tempting to have lower-code platform options, a closer look reveals that many of these products offer solutions that don’t really meet the needs of corporate businesses or developers, just like Visual Basic did not exist a few decades ago.
Clarifying the Low-Code Market Size
In the latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low Code Application Platforms (LCAP), Gartner defines LCAP as:
“An application platform that supports rapid application development, deployment, execution, and management using declarative, high-level programming abstractions such as model-driven and metadata-driven programming languages and single-step deployments.”
Based on this definition, the low code market includes platforms that support the development of enterprise applications that run on multiple platforms and devices, connect to data sources, and meet business needs. To be included in Gartner’s view of the low code market, providers must also meet a variety of technical requirements, including:
Demonstrating a go-to-market strategy for its LCAP for cross-sectoral application development,
Providing a minimum set of application platform capabilities,
Ensuring fast application development,
To provide an enterprise-level LCAP for enterprise-class projects.
As the market continues to grow and new providers join the race, Gartner adjusts these criteria every year, and some vendors even move into different categories such as case management. We fully expect to see additional changes in 2021 as Gartner continues to focus on the feature and functionality packs customers can expect from a low-code app platform and whether this suite can truly address all use cases for the organization.
An Alternative Perspective on the Low-Code Market
If you are considering a low-code platform to digitize internal business processes, replace legacy applications, or create new customer experiences that include mobile, chat, and bots, it can help to understand the low-code environment based on its legacy.
This may seem like a strange way of thinking about development platform vendors, but it turns out, it’s very important. Let’s take a look at the three categories of low code and why they exist.
Niche tools focus on a specific application development problem. For example:
A better way to capture and store data
A simpler way to describe business processes
An easier way to create a mobile frontend
These tools are used almost exclusively to meet a single business need. It includes business process management (BPM), case management, and no-code technology. As long as scalability is not a requirement, you can use them to build simple applications really fast.
Players of this category are often large software application vendors whose motivation to call themselves low-code is to provide a way to create more value in cloud ecosystems. These solutions are basically niche platforms as they are developed to solve a specific business need as well as general application development (e.g. database applications, web tools, GUI front ends to CLI backend systems).
Purpose-Oriented Application Platforms
These are platforms designed from the very beginning to handle custom application development using a low-code approach. Vendors in this category tend to keep up with market needs and trends and include new features for future-proof customer journeys such as progressive web apps and chatbots. Purpose application platforms focus on delivering fit-for-purpose applications with a consistent user experience.
These platforms are not purely pure low-code tools such as niche or ecosystem. They include a low-code framework and tools for multi-experience development, but they also have some capabilities for automation, integration, impact reporting, and one-click deployment.
Why Is Purposeful Creation Not Enough?
The problem with purpose-built application platforms is that inevitably there comes a time when solutions created with them must evolve in a direction that the platform does not support. It’s as if you need your content management system to start offering point-of-sale functionality with order menus and payments. Maybe you can add some plugins and get something that works, if not elegant. However, what happens the next time you need something out of the box? Or the time after that?
At this point, organizations using application platforms for this purpose are forced to layer over another tool to bridge the gap, resort to manual coding, or seek other ways to integrate newly coded systems with existing systems. The benefits of low code are lost very quickly.
We see this often. Many of our clients came to OutSystems after hitting this wall with another platform, and this can happen very quickly. The reasons are varied, but we hear things like:
“Yes, our current platform supports online mobile app development… but we also need it to create apps that work offline. It doesn’t.”
“We are not able to integrate with our identity management system.”
Question: Why can’t more solutions get organizations over this wall effectively?
Answer: Because it’s hard to build a development platform that meets the actual needs of customers. Customers don’t just need better, more efficient development tools; they need an entire platform that improves the full application lifecycle in the same way that low-code improves the development experience. A modern application platform, not flash-in-the-pan tactics, can make sure that IT teams never hit a wall.
Solving Purpose-Built Problems with a Modern Application Platform
Almost every day we hear from organizations that are victims of digital disruption – cite retail (Sears, Toys ”R” Us), Mobile Device (Blackberry), and taxi industry references. To avoid this, not only do business and IT strategies need to be in lockdown, but IT needs to be able to deliver solutions that accelerate business demands. Imagine that the business minds behind Uber will be told a two-year wait for their mobile apps.
Development speed is the biggest opportunity for low code platforms. Instead, most of the time, even low-code, IT is constrained by:
- Big backlogs
- Not enough budget or skilled resources
- Development complexity
- Systems that are often outdated by the time they’re released.
Addressing these issues requires a modern application platform that offers low-code for the visual development of all layers of an application, including user interfaces, integration, data models, business logic, and workflow for any device, and proprietary code of an application. This looks like a purpose-built app platform, right? The difference is that with a modern application platform it is possible to:
- Package mobile apps for the app stores in one click.
- Manage the full application lifecycle with automated dependency impact analysis, application portfolio governance and refactoring, and debugging to ensure deployments don’t break.
- Handle complex mobile requirements like ultra-responsive user experience, offline data, on-device business logic, and sensor integration.
- Scale to support high volumes of users and transactions.
- Deliver superior user experience through continuous delivery and deployment.
- Meet demanding security requirements.
- Adopt a multi-persona app dev strategy, taking full advantage of the governed business and IT collaboration.
Take the credit rating company FICO, for example. They had a two-year development project that failed. In just six months with half the team, they rewrote and delivered a brand new origination system and got to market three times faster using the OutSystems modern application platform.
To learn more about the variety of low-code platforms, I invite you to download a complementary copy of Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, 2020.
In light of the research results, as BAYPM, we would love to help you with your Digital Transformation journey, give us a shout and we’ll be sure to assist you as best as we can. Currently, we are working on a project to digitize manual processes within different locations. The client opted for an incremental implementation approach based on geographical locations and the needs of their different factories.