Across a broad range of industries, more organizations are embracing no-code application development. They’re leveraging no-code tools to empower citizen developers, reduce the cost of digitizing workflows and forms, and quickly unleash new capabilities that accelerate operations and serve customers better.
In fact, Accenture calls the emergence of no-code and low-code a “revolution” that will drive an “explosion of user-generated innovation.” Innovative organizations are using no-code/low-code app builders to automate workflows (17%), create new applications (15%), speed up application development (15%), automate data collection and reporting (14%), and more, ZDNet reports.
Just where is no-code having the biggest impact? Organizations have achieved no-code success in these market segments:
The energy industry faces unprecedented change. But that disruption is a business opportunity for Trilliant, which provides leading-edge metering and communications systems for electric, natural gas and water utilities.
Trilliant used a no-code solution to automate business-critical web forms and web applications to support day-to-day operations. It also applied a no-code approach to create a process-mapping tool that allowed administrative teams to better understand and streamline workflows. As a result, the company optimized change management and accelerated customer-service response.
Healthcare providers are under pressure to improve processes to better serve patients. With multiple locations in northern Utah, Ogden Clinic needed a simple and cost-effective way to digitize workflow processes.
Ogden applied a no-code approach to optimize dozens of HR, clinical and laboratory processes, replacing manual, paper-based workflows while maintaining an audit trail to meet legal and regulatory requirements. The innovative healthcare provider saved costs, avoided administrative errors, and freed up time to focus on delivering care.
For insurance companies, policy applications are business-critical. With licenses to operate in most U.S. states, Madison National Life Insurance needed to collect applicant data remotely in the field.
In the past, that workflow was hindered by paper forms and missing signatures. But using a no-code approach, Madison digitized the process and can capture the data it needs – wherever the customer happens to be. API connections and digitized routing automatically send the data to third-party systems.
For today’s workforce management, temporary and gig employees are central to business success. All Medical Healthcare Staffing empowers healthcare companies with the recruiting – and associated reporting and compliance – they need.
All Medical took advantage of no-code tools to streamline employee on-boarding, handle compliance processes, and automate document collection for its HR department, employees and clients alike. The workflow process integrated smoothly with All Medical’s databases, making employee data easily accessible to authorized users. Support for digital signatures strengthened security and ensured a reliable audit trail.
K-12 School Districts
K-12 school districts face a perennial need to minimize costs. That certainly was the case for Visalia Unified School District in California’s San Joaquin Valley. To support thousands of employees and tens of thousands of students across dozens of sites, the school district relied on more than 100 paper-based processes. Those manual workflows weren’t as efficient and cost-effective as they could be.
Visalia employed no-code tools to gradually automate administrative procedures. These processes included substitute-teacher requests, transportation requests, accident reports and more. The school system replaced dozens of manual forms with digitized data collection used by more than 2,400 educators and administrators. It reduced labor and printing costs, improved record-keeping and reporting, and achieved a positive return on investment (ROI) using no-code app solutions.
Like all institutions of higher education, the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) deals with many forms and administrative documents across their workflow processes. UTM leveraged a no-code app builder to automate a range of processes, beginning with managing the creation and distribution of student ID cards.
In the past, the university followed a manual process for ID card requests and photos that was cumbersome for both administrators and students. Now, an automated web form lets students upload a photo and request an ID online, avoiding long lines and reducing administrative demands.
The university then used another no-code web app to enable an enrollment wizard that facilitates registration, admissions, student vaccination forms and more – including electronic signatures. With no-code, UTM has replaced paper forms with digitized document management workflow processes.
No-code application development is powering use cases in other industry segments, as well, including financial services, engineering, retail and more. Innovative companies are finding new ways to apply no-code to accelerate processes, increase productivity, improve collaboration and optimize customer experiences. Your organization can, too.
Two organizational trends emerged over the past couple of years that will continue in 2022 and beyond. One is remote work environments. The other is no-code application development. These trends were initially unrelated. But as it happens, each supports the other. And going forward, each will make the other more effective.
Remote work, of course, was initially driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. The good news is that organizations forced to embrace remote work found that with the right technologies, they could complete many workflows from any location. In fact, a large portion of those processes are now more efficient and cost-effective.
As a result, a remote or hybrid workforce is here to stay. By September 2021, 45% of full-time employees were working remotely either all or part of the time, according to Gallup. Nine in 10 remote workers expected to continue that arrangement going forward. And because 30% of employees say they’d change jobs if their organization stopped allowing remote work, a hybrid work environment is likely to be permanent.
No-code application development, for its part, solves several emerging organizational issues. One is a growing shortage of trained application developers. Another is a heightened need for faster, more cost-effective development cycles. And third is the desire among an increasing number of employees to quickly build their own workflows to optimize processes.
It’s no wonder the use of no-code and low-code app builders will nearly triple in the next few years, producing 70% of new applications by 2025, according to Gartner. Already, nearly 60% of applications are built outside the IT department, and 82% of companies say “citizen developers” are increasingly important to their business, TechRepublic reports.
Remote Work Demands No-Code. And No-Code Amplifies Remote Work.
Your remote workforce has heightened the need for no-code platforms. At the same time, no-code tools can make your remote workers progressively more efficient and effective. To optimize this mutually beneficial relationship, take these five steps:
1. Pivot to automation – Your company needs to maintain workflows that suddenly must be completed by dispersed teams from a variety of locations. In the past, most business operations were structured around the idea that all employees had access to a central office. Today, remote workers need new ways to remain connected with your office and with one another. Their workflows have to be automated to replace the manual interactions that once occurred face-to-face.
No-code apps are an effective way to enable remote workers and optimize remote work. No-code tools deliver robust interfaces that make web applications easier to use. They provide secure forms for fast data capture, sharing and reporting. And they assemble sophisticated workflows that automate and accelerate both internal and customer-facing processes.
2. Empower your employees – Projects managed by your development team have most likely been slowed by the shift to remote work. That leaves your business users waiting for the software functionality they need.
But those business users have firsthand knowledge of how their processes must be carried out. They’re the people best suited to building the interfaces, forms and workflows that enable their work.
No-code app builders allow your non-technical remote employees to quickly design and produce those capabilities. There’s no longer a need to go through the time-consuming, costly design and review cycles of traditional application development. Nor is there a need to wade through procurement processes and the aggravation of bringing in an external development vendor. With no-code, your business users get the workflows they need, when they need them.
3. Ease the burden on your developers – No-code application development isn’t just for citizen developers. Your development pros also face new challenges in working remotely and with impacts of staffing shortages. With fewer team members collaborating face-to-face and onsite, developers need new tools to simplify and accelerate development.
No-code platforms offer an elegant solution. They allow developers to rapidly create standardized and secure interfaces, forms, and workflow steps they can incorporate into their larger applications. Developers can speed up their development processes – and gain time to focus on complex and strategic applications.
4. Optimize customer experiences – Today’s customers demand new ways of engaging with your company. Increasingly, they want contactless experiences. At the same time, they might no longer be able to interact with your employees at a central access point.
No-code can deliver digitized, contactless processes for serving both internal and external customers from any location. Your business users can easily create user-friendly online forms and web apps that allow customers to submit information or request services. They can quickly implement new automated workflows that improve customer experiences and strengthen customer relationships. And they can accomplish those tasks while working remotely.
5. Innovate and succeed – Finally, the shift to remote work has shaken up old ways of doing business and released a new wave of innovation. Organizations like yours are finding new ways to improve operations, optimize customer service and gain competitive advantage.
No-code can build on your momentum. The no-code approach is an effective way to recruit the brainpower of a larger portion of your workforce to address new challenges, improve internal processes, and enhance customer experiences. You can enable your remote employees to ideate and collaborate on getting the job done faster and improve customer satisfaction.
Many organizations initially adopted no-code tools to augment their application development. Today, they’re discovering that no-code not only can enable their remote workforce but it can also continuously improve the effectiveness of remote work.
History is full of missed opportunities that resulted from simple misunderstandings. In 1999 NASA launched the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter to study the Red Planet. The mission was going fine until the probe disintegrated on entering the Martian atmosphere. The error? Ground control sent instructions in English units, while the probe understood them as metric.
Application development doesn’t always involve such high stakes. But misunderstandings can cost businesses plenty. So, it’s especially important that anyone creating applications – whether development pros or line-of-business users – is always on the same page.
That’s certainly true for no-code application development. No-code is well-suited for automating workflows and streamlining processes. But just what is a workflow? How should professional and citizen developers understand a process? Many people assume that a workflow is just a small process, but there are important distinctions between the two.
Recognizing the differences can be crucial to the success of any no-code project.
Go With the Workflow
Let’s start with workflows. A workflow is a defined set of sequential and repetitive steps that follow a set of rules to accomplish a specific task.
Workflows might be flexible based on circumstances. Think of a passenger train on a track. Depending on commuter needs, the train might stop at a station, skip the next station, switch to a different route, be reconfigured at another station, or continue to a terminal. But it follows a set of rules, and it never leaves the tracks.
In an enterprise, a workflow might be used only by a small team in the finance department, involve a function like HR that touches every employee, or extend across multiple departments like procurement and operations.
Workflows are commonly categorized by type:
A process workflow is repetitive and follows a predictable path. An example is an expense reimbursement request that an employee submits to a manager for approval. Some workflow experts call these “rules-based workflows.”
A project workflow doesn’t always follow the same path. An example is producing marketing content. The path might usually be the same, but different content might involve different steps. It might be possible to automate some but not all of the workflow.
A case workflow also involves path flexibility. An example is a helpdesk support ticket. If the issue is easily resolved, the workflow follows one path. If it’s more challenging, it might follow a different path. Some experts call these “cognitive workflows.”
Trust the Process
If a workflow is a set of steps for a task, a process is the set of tasks necessary to achieve an organizational objective. Put another way, if a workflow is like a train on a track, a process is like the rail system that ties train routes together.
Processes also encode any relevant fields, forms, data, notifications, and rules to complete those tasks. They might also incorporate performance goals like achieving a certain level of speed, accuracy, or customer satisfaction.
For example, a travel and expense process might involve multiple workflows, data elements and rules, including the employee filling out an expense form, the manager approving the expense or making an exception, the finance department reimbursing the employee, plus budget allocations and notifications.
Processes are often categorized as:
Operational or primary
Operational processes play a direct role in company outputs, such as how it earns revenue. It might include creating a product, selling the product, or servicing the product.
Supporting or secondary
Supporting processes enable the internal functions of a company, such as HR and payroll.
Management processes coordinate and enable operational and supporting processes. They include things like strategic planning that empowers employees and optimizes business results.
No-Code for Getting Workflows and Processes Right
Workflow and process automation can optimize portions of a task or complex business activities end-to-end. Automation can speed process steps, reduce human error, and ensure the consistent flow of tasks. It can also eliminate mundane activities and wasted time to let workers focus on more strategic activities.
No-code application development is well-suited to automating and optimizing both workflows and processes. And because no-code app builders empower less technical employees to create their own applications, they can digitize workflows and processes in discrete components. This approach allows for iterative and cost-effective business improvements.
For example, no-code tools can enable users to create simple forms or interfaces that give internal or external stakeholders self-service tools to complete a task. They can also equip users to digitize a portion of a workflow for an incremental improvement or encode an end-to-end workflow for even greater automation.
Departments from HR and finance to marketing, sales and service can enable data capture, notifications, escalations, reporting and more. Customizable templates make building forms and applications with supporting workflows fast and easy. No-code apps can even integrate with existing systems to support broader processes and ensure both efficiency and compliance.
Just as important, no-code tools can empower professional development teams to work faster and more cost-effectively. Developers can use no-code to quickly and easily create robust, secure applications, forms and workflows that underlie enterprise wide processes. That way, they can focus on the more complex aspects of digitizing the end-to-end process.
Understanding the differences between workflows and processes can help your business know where to target improvements to work more efficiently, get products to market faster and serve customers better. With an effective no-code app builder, every employee can be empowered to standardize and accelerate the workflows and processes that drive your business success.
Over the last couple of years, cybersecurity has become a topic of interest among businesses and organizations of all sizes. Rapid digital transformation, characterized by organizational change and the move to the cloud, has seen many organizations fall victim to cyber attackers. Threats from employees have been intensifying since the onset of the pandemic, thanks to remote working.
Today, most organizations are more concerned about the threats from their employees than those from outside actors. And while it’s easy to blame employees for negligence or malicious intent, everyone has a role to play in containing these cybersecurity risks.
According to a 2020 Kaspersky Survey, 73% of employees working remotely during the pandemic said they had not received any specific cybersecurity awareness training or guidance from their employer. This is a clear indication that a lot has to be done regarding cybersecurity education and awareness.
That said, we’ve rounded up a list of the common cybersecurity risks from remote employees and how you can work to minimize and even eliminate them.
Using Unprotected Wi-Fi Networks
Many employees working remotely will need internet access to connect to the company network or to receive and respond to emails. Often, using a home Wi-Fi network is the most convenient option. The problem is that, while the Wi-Fi network is private and operated by family members, it’s unsecured, and anyone with some bit of hacking skills could intercept and steal sensitive traffic data.
A solution is to use a VPN connection when connecting to the internet. The benefit of a VPN connection is that it encrypts network data making it difficult for the hacker to access its content. It also helps mask your IP address so your identity on the internet isn’t disclosed.
Using Personal Devices to Access Company Network
Apart from using unprotected Wi-Fi networks, research shows that 39% of employees access company data on personal devices. Most of these devices have well-documented security weaknesses. The implication is that attackers could leverage vulnerabilities such as unpatched firmware and insecure logins to gain a foothold into the device. Afterward, they will use these compromised devices to step into the company network.
If your employees use personal laptops and even smartphones to access the company network and privileged admin sites, they are simply putting your entire company at risk. Even simple mistakes such as transferring files between personal computers and work computers can introduce malware to the whole corporate system. The best solution to this problem is to equip remote employees with work devices updated with the latest security software and monitor for issues in real-time. This will help minimize cybersecurity incidents from happening behind the scenes.
Weak Passwords and Poor Security Controls
The use of weak passwords is common, and while it may seem like a non-issue, it actually can lead to severe data breaches. Weak and apparent passwords such as birthdays, first anniversary, etc., make many employees vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Using the same passwords for different online accounts is also a cause for concern. This is because one successful breach could mean all your online data is at the mercy of the attacker. Here, the trick is to use a password manager that creates a unique password for each of your online accounts.
For organizations with sensitive data that needs to be accessed by a few employees, e.g., supervisors and managers, it’s always recommended to use the principle of least privilege. This means the privileged individuals get only enough access to perform the required job. Such a system works by reducing the risk of attackers getting access to sensitive data if they manage to compromise a low-level user account.
Other effective techniques would be to use effective firewalls to help monitor traffic and prevent unauthorized access to and from the network. Embracing encrypted file sharing, using multi factor authentication, and adopting advanced cybersecurity models such as Zero Trust will also go a long way in keeping the network extra secure.
Managing Cyber Security Risks for Employees
Your employees are your greatest assets, responsible for running the company and connecting with customers, clients, and other stakeholders. This means that cybersecurity mistakes from the employees’ side can be pretty detrimental as they can expose your company’s sensitive data from all ends.
Every business also knows that managing cybersecurity risks should be on top of the priority list. So, to achieve this, effective employee education on matters of cybersecurity is vital. The best way to approach employee education is through workshops and awareness programs. It’s also necessary to invest in the right cybersecurity tools and technologies to protect your network from insider and outsider threats.
That said, the market is full of software solutions designed for various cybersecurity risks and events. Even so, you can tackle all the cybersecurity risks from employees with the help of a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment and compliance tool. Here, you’ll benefit from real-time reporting, timely software updates, and the latest insights on cybersecurity news and developments.
Business processes and workflows are how your company operates. Improve your workflows, and you improve your business.
It’s no wonder the market for workflow automation solutions is predicted to surge from $8 billion in 2019 to $39 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate of nearly 24%.
But there’s a simple way to automate workflows that doesn’t require significant investment, and that’s no-code application development.
Easy Automation, Big Benefits
No-code app builders allow citizen developers with no technical knowledge to build powerful, business-enabling applications, forms and workflows quickly and easily. They’re also robust and flexible enough that application development teams can use them to speed the creation of highly sophisticated workflow software.
With a no-code tool, users simply drag and drop reusable software elements onto a design canvas. Behind the scenes, the tool automatically assembles a functional, stable, and secure application for workflow automation. The result? Streamlined processes and better business operations.
Here are six ways workflow automation can boost your business today:
1. Higher worker satisfaction and productivity
– Repetitive tasks wear workers down. Automating workflows relieves them of the burden of these manual activities.
Just as important, automated forms and workflows can help workers avoid manual errors and ensure compliance. With process steps codified in software, workers can complete tasks right the first time and every time, with no missing data and no need to do things twice.
And with no-code workflow builders, employees feel more empowered. After all, they know the workflows they follow every day. So, they know how to automate those process flows to make their jobs faster and easier. No-code gives them a tool to do just that.
In fact, the greater process agility of automated workflows can drive up to a 30-point improvement in employee engagement, McKinsey says. And highly engaged teams are 14% more productive, Gallup has found.
2. Simplified departmental supervision
– This benefit of workflow automation often gets overlooked, but it’s an essential one. With smoother business processes optimized by workflow automation, managers can oversee their departments more effectively.
For starters, managers get better visibility into and control over how their teams are performing, because they can be confident tasks are carried completely and consistently. They can also be sure their workers are meeting deadlines and contributing to overall company success. And they can better forecast short term and longer term results, making decision-making faster and more accurate.
3. Improved line-of-business (LoB) processes
– From HR to finance, from sales to service to facilities management, LoB processes are the bedrock of your business success. With automated forms and workflows, you can supercharge the daily operations of every aspect of your enterprise.
A great advantage of no-code tools is that they make creating and fine-tuning workflow forms and processes fast and easy. LoBs don’t have to submit complex requests to the application development team and then wait for months to get the business-enabling software they need. And let’s say new customer demands or new ways of doing business dictate a workflow form or process change. Your citizen developers can easily go back and tweak the workflow solution, keeping your processes up to speed with business requirements.
4. Superior customer experiences
– Consumers have come to expect digitized experiences – and both Millennials and Gen Zers have grown up with them. No-code tools give you a simple and cost-effective way to meet their expectations.
With automated forms and workflows, you can optimize interactions with customers, serve them more quickly and reliably, and avoid unpredictable processes and results that can drive prospects to your competitors. You can also provide customers with self-service tools that make working with your company simple and straightforward. Ultimately, you have another way to deliver the experiences that build your brand reputation and keep customers coming back.
5. Lower costs with faster results
– Both manual processes and employee dissatisfaction can drive up overall labor costs – a make-or-break issue especially for small and midsize businesses. Paying workers to do repetitive tasks that can easily be streamlined doesn’t make good business sense. Automated workflows enable you to address these issues head-on.
What’s more, facilitating faster form completion to enhance productivity and making workflows reliable can accelerate the pace of your operations overall. Employees can complete one task and move on to the next – or have more time to focus on innovation and winning in the marketplace. That means you’re getting the business results you want faster and more effectively.
6. Greater marketplace agility
– Agility can be a business buzzword. But if you can nimbly respond to new competitors, emerging customer demands or unexpected market changes, you can stay a step ahead. You can enter new markets, build new business models, and drive new revenues.
In fact, 80% of companies say their business processes need to become more agile, Forrester reports. To achieve that goal, 72% plan to accelerate digitization. One simple way to digitize and become more agile? Automate workflows with no-code tools.
The Future of Workflow Optimization
With all the benefits of workflow automation, it should be no surprise that no-code is considered the future of application development. By 2022, sales of no-code solutions will have seen a five-year compound annual growth rate of more than 40%, Forrester forecasts. By 2024, 66% of all application development will be achieved through no-code or “low-code” tools, Gartner predicts.
Now is the time to leverage no-code app builders to digitize your forms, automate your workflows and power your business to greater success.
When Twitter burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, naysayers dismissed it as a one-hit wonder. Communicating in 140 (eventually 280) characters was a waste of time, they said. But 15 years and 330 million users later, it’s clear the social-networking juggernaut is no flash in the pan.
The same is true of no-code application development. The revolutionary approach to building business-enabling digital capabilities has had its skeptics. Could such a streamlined, easy-to-use methodology really result in value-adding forms, workflows and interfaces that digitize enterprise processes?
The answer is a resounding yes, according to the growing number of businesses reaping no-code’s benefits. Let’s explore six common myths and misperceptions around no-code – and the facts behind why no-code app builders are here to stay.
1. Fact: No-code augments and optimizes traditional application development.
Some professional developers might be skeptical of no-code tools, believing there’s no way they can replace traditional development approaches or DevOps methodologies. But that misses the point of no-code.
There will always be a place for expert development teams. The central benefit of no-code is that it complements traditional development. By empowering non-technical business users, or citizen developers, with drag-and-drop functionality to create applications, no-code expands the possibilities of software development.
What’s more, by giving professional developers tools to add standardized interfaces and workflows quickly and easily to custom applications, no-code makes application development more effective. In fact, 2.57 million developers, or 11% of the global development population, are now no-code or low-code specialists, according to IDC.
2. Fact: No-code eases the burden of recruiting and retaining high-cost developers.
Until recently, enterprises could meet their development needs with traditional approaches. But today, ever-faster business cycles and the rapid pace of digitization have changed the development landscape.
No-code and low-code will be a priority for 96% of IT decision makers, IDC predicts. Why? Because a lack of software engineers puts new pressure on businesses. Companies can’t onboard application developers fast enough to keep pace with market demands. And changing workforce dynamics make retaining talent harder than ever.
No-code offers a compelling solution. By empowering citizen developers with tools to build their own software, no-code relieves business leaders from the stress of fielding large development teams. It also ensures that lines of business (LoBs) can quickly and easily create the functionality they need to do their jobs more effectively.
3. Fact: No-code frees up IT and development teams.
Business decision-makers might worry that no-code tools will be rejected by IT and development teams. But many IT and development pros welcome the no-code revolution.
It’s easy to see why. No-code tools enable business functions like HR, finance, sales, marketing, and customer service to create their own applications. That frees up professional developers to focus on your most strategic and complex software.
In addition, an IT-approved no-code app builder can help mitigate “shadow IT.” Shadow IT occurs when LoBs circumvent corporate policy to buy their own apps. Unapproved software can result in unexpected costs because it doesn’t benefit from economies of scale. By empowering users with no-code tools, IT can control spend. It’s no wonder that by 2024, 80% of technology products and services will be built by people who aren’t in technology fields, Gartner predicts.
4. Fact: No-code app builders empower citizen developers.
The typical citizen developer user lacks technical knowledge. But no-code tools require no manual programming. By simply dragging and dropping reusable software elements on a design canvas, citizen developers can quickly and easily build forms, workflows, and interfaces. Transparent to the user, the no-code tool automatically assembles a functional and robust application.
Plus, LoB teams know the ins and outs of the processes they manage. They understand the enhancements that will deliver the greatest value. No-code empowers employees to accelerate and improve processes. It can also make them better engaged – engagement that can improve productivity by 14%, according to Gallup.
5. Fact: No-code-created applications are enterprise-ready and secure.
Cybersecurity is top of mind for every business. You need to be sure software produced by citizen developers maintains cyber safeguards. No-code development solutions have security covered. Their reusable application components have been tested and quality-assured for solid security. And because they’re built on best practices, they offer reliability, scalability and integration through web services and APIs.
Your developers can likewise take advantage of preconfigured components to avoid having to build security into routine forms, workflows, and interfaces. And because no-code helps control shadow IT, you can reduce the risk of vulnerabilities introduced by unapproved software.
It’s no surprise, then, that sales of no-code solutions are expected to reach $21.2 billion by 2022, according to Forrester, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of more than 40%.
6. Fact: No-code is the future of development.
Today’s workforce relies on digital devices that give them a high level of autonomy. No-code tools give your workforce the empowerment they increasingly demand.
Customers, meanwhile, demand digital processes and services. From contactless checkout to telehealth to remote financial services, consumers expect every brand interaction to be fully digitized. No-code can help you automate routine tasks, extend digital processes to internal and external stakeholders, and deliver superior customer experiences.
These marketplace realities mean no-code is no passing fad. Gartner advises that “the future of apps must include citizen development” and reports that 61% of companies are implementing or have plans for citizen development initiatives. In fact, the analyst predicts that 65% of application development will be carried out through no-code or low-code tools by 2024.
Built around a simple but powerful concept, Twitter transformed social networking. In a similar way, the no-code approach is revolutionizing application development. By seeing past common misconceptions, your company can take advantage of no-code to empower users with new capabilities that optimize your processes and drive your business.
A great surprise of the sudden shift to remote work is that, rather than suffering business disruption, companies actually became more productive. In fact, the work-from-home surge lifted U.S. productivity overall by 5%, according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The unexpected results highlight a fact long recognized by management experts, which is that business productivity depends more on systems and processes than on individual workers. Decades ago, business guru W. Edwards Deming argued that a whopping 94% of improvement opportunities involve the system, not the person.
Enter no-code application development. A great promise of no-code development and no-code applications themselves is that they can help raise the efficiency of not just your people but also your processes.
Not only that, but no-code can deliver a productivity and scalability boost in two areas: in your application development specifically, and in your business operations overall.
No-Code App Builders for Leaner Application Development
Traditional application development provides meaningful benefits to businesses. But it also comes with productivity downsides. Of course, newer methodologies such as DevOps aim to automate and accelerate development cycles. But development still involves many manual, time-consuming steps.
The scarcity of highly trained and skilled developers further slows projects. In fact, the gap between the demand for applications and the supply of developers delays digital transformation projects by an average of 8.1 months, according to IDC.
No-code app builders can help. No-code tools enable you to create complete, robust applications without manual programming. Process-savvy business users or citizen developers can quickly and easily build value-adding software for running your business. They achieve this goal by simply dragging and dropping reusable software elements onto a design canvas. Behind the scenes, the no-code tool automatically assembles a functional, stable and secure application.
Citizen developers have embraced no-code, because they like the ability to easily create new business functionality. From crafting simple forms and workflows to producing specific line-of-business capabilities, no-code-produced applications can speed up existing process steps or enable entirely new, more efficient processes.
No-code application builders can also drive efficiency for your development team. Reusable components allow teams to avoid manually coding entire programs from scratch. Plus, no-code frees up technical experts to focus on what they do best: creating sophisticated, function-specific or industry-targeted software that differentiates your company from the competition.
No-Code Apps for Business Productivity and Scale
But the efficiency advantages of no-code don’t stop with application development. Supercharged with no-code-created workflow solutions and reports, your business can operate more efficiently, rapidly and nimbly. It can also quickly scale operations to meet new customer demands or changing business dynamics. No-code applications reach these objectives in a number of ways.
First, the employees in your lines of business are the people who truly understand the daily workflows they manage. So they’re the individuals best-positioned to produce no-code-created applications that fine-tune processes or power new ones. These qualities not only make employees more efficient and productive. They also make them more engaged in their jobs and in your business.
Just as important, employees can easily fine-tune no-code apps to meet changing needs. Let’s say you need to add new steps to an existing process. A team member can easily use the drag-and-drop functionality of your no-code tool to tweak the application for better performance.
What’s more, no-code development tools enable experts in your HR, finance, marketing, sales and customer service departments to work smarter and faster. They gain the capabilities they need to:
Automate tasks – No-code tools enable citizen developers to create applications that accelerate and even automate repetitive but business-critical processes. You can avoid errors, operate more quickly and shift focus to more strategic activities.
Respond to change – If your market is like most, it changes quickly – and constantly. With traditional application development, you can’t respond in time. No-code lets your users fine-tune on-the-fly, so you stay ahead of the competition.
Save costs – Professional development teams can be costly. Since users wielding no-code tools can be much more cost-effective, and because the apps they create speed your operations, you shave dollars through efficiency gains.
Improve and scale – Because the no-code approach lets you create applications when you need them, you can make business improvements whenever the market calls for them. And because no-code applications allow your citizen developers to produce applications on demand, you can quickly scale your business to seize new opportunities.
Digitally transform – Everyone talks about digital transformation. Yet how many companies have actually achieved it in a meaningful way? No-code enables you to extend digitized processes throughout your enterprise. You can progressively automate manual processes and tangibly advance toward your digitization goals.
Ultimately, no-code development tools and no-code-produced applications give you agility to respond to the demands of your market. Business-transforming events like a shift to widespread remote work come along only rarely. But any market, and any company, can face a sudden change in customer expectations or competitive environment. With no-code, you have new capabilities to respond more quickly, operate more efficiently, and scale to achieve new levels of success.
How Your Organization Can Benefit From Citizen Development
The digital era has spawned a sharing economy in which a broad range of participants contribute to the community’s greater benefit. Wikipedia is a prime example: an online encyclopedia created and maintained by a network of non-experts, resulting in a knowledge repository often more usable and accurate than reference works produced by professionals. Similarly, nonprofessional citizen scientists help monitor endangered species, identify new celestial bodies, and advance emerging technologies.
An analogous trend has taken shape in application development: the emergence of “citizen developers” in businesses across industries. With citizen development, business users – who aren’t formally trained in writing software – use no-code software development tools to create, deploy and continually improve applications. The resulting applications increase productivity, speed up business operations, and enhance customer service.
Citizen development represents the democratization of application development. It leverages the insights and innovation already embedded throughout your workforce. The trend is expected to accelerate as no-code tools shift a growing portion of development from scarce, high-cost professional developers to users who directly benefit from the software they create. In fact, Gartner says “the future of apps must include citizen development” and reports that 61% of companies are implementing or have plans for this approach.
No-Code Citizen Development for Success
Want to unleash the power of citizen developers in your organization? Here are four ways no-code enabled citizen development can benefit your business today:
1. Drive user engagement and productivity.
Employees in your lines of business (LoBs) understand the workflows they manage every day. They know the kinds of improvements that will eliminate redundant process steps and increase productivity.
In many businesses, however, even simple workflow improvements face months of delay while LoBs wait for development teams to respond to requests for changes. A better approach is to empower employees to create and enhance their own applications.
Enabling such citizen development not only allows employees to accelerate processes, it also makes them better engaged in their work. And productivity for highly engaged teams is 14% higher than for teams with low engagement, according to Gallup.
Such engagement becomes self-sustaining. Citizen developers can share their development knowledge with others, fostering a culture of innovation and continual improvement across your enterprise.
2. Reduce IT costs and workloads while improving IT governance.
As more companies move to digitize more processes, IT faces an escalating backlog of application-modernization and process-optimization projects. Citizen developers can alleviate traditional development teams from having to do less-complex, workflow-specific application creation. That way, professional development teams can focus on coding enterprise-wide, mission-critical software.
In addition, citizen development can help reduce cost and security issues related to “shadow IT.” Shadow IT occurs when LoBs go around corporate policies to purchase their own software. Unapproved software can result in tremendous, and hidden, costs because that software doesn’t benefit from economies of scale. Shadow IT can also introduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities that are often hidden from your IT managers. By empowering citizen developers with approved no-code tools, IT departments can substantially reduce shadow IT.
3. Improve customer experiences and satisfaction.
Many internal corporate activities – from completing online forms to managing workflows – extend to customer-facing processes. Medical practices need to serve customers through telehealth. Schools and universities must digitally expand programs across and off campus. Government agencies increasingly deliver citizen services online. Global businesses integrate processes from back office to consumer, requiring digitization of end-to-end process chains.
Many of these efforts center around delivering superior customer experiences. Citizen development can play a vital role in achieving that objective. User-developed applications can enable back-office employees to carry out processes more efficiently, equip frontline workers to serve customers more responsively, and empower customers with self-service portals, web applications and workflow solutions that make interacting with your brand efficient and satisfying.
4. Accelerate and optimize business operations.
Citizen development isn’t just another way to create applications. It’s also a new way to run your business. No-code development tools enable subject-matter experts in finance, HR, project management, product development, sales, marketing, customer service, facilities management, and other functions to work smarter and faster. Using effective no-code tools, citizen developers can help your company:
Professional developers are valuable but costly. By freeing up IT experts to focus on high availability, mission-critical applications, citizen developers help your organization save money.
Automate for efficiency
No-code tools allow citizen developers to create applications that streamline and even automate repetitive but business-critical processes. Results include reduced errors, faster operations, and more time to focus on strategic goals.
Respond nimbly to changing needs
Traditional development teams can’t keep pace with market changes. Citizen developers can respond fast to keep your business ahead of the competition.
Drive continual improvement
Because of high costs associated with traditional development, many companies believe they need to first achieve return on investment (ROI) before spending on enhancements. Citizen developers can iteratively fine-tune applications and processes for constant, incremental improvements.
Foster a culture of innovation
With software creation limited to traditional development teams, your company isn’t benefiting from the creativity spread throughout your enterprise. Citizen developers empowered with no-code tools become more innovative and share their innovative spirit with peers.
Achieve digital transformation
Digital transformation has become a goal of companies across industries. Yet only 30% of transformation efforts realize their objectives, says Boston Consulting Group – often because of project complexity and organizational inertia. Citizen development simplifies application creation and promotes change throughout the enterprise. The result is tangible progress toward transformation.
The keys to success with citizen development are twofold. First is to identify the most effective no-code tools that will power your application development efforts. Second is to encourage citizen developers throughout your teams. These actions will equip your business to benefit from the growing trend that is citizen development.
When the Covid-19 crisis struck, companies needed to pivot quickly to new ways of doing business. Organizations that rapidly implemented new digital-enabled models excelled in the face of unpredictable change. Those that lagged risked losing customers and revenue streams.
But the pandemic merely accelerated an established trend of customers demanding faster responses and businesses operating at higher speeds. Agile development methodologies quickened software build cycles. Cloud computing enabled near-instant software rollouts. Customers and employees alike now expect your enterprise to continually introduce and improve digitized services and processes.
These imperatives have organizations evaluating and investing in no-code development. No-code solutions allow citizen developers or those with little or no technical knowledge to quickly and easily build applications. No-code tools can support business activities as essential as filling out web forms and as sophisticated as ensuring compliance with mission-critical workflow processes. They’re even robust enough to empower development teams to speed the creation of enterprise-class applications.
Bridge to No-Code
But is no-code simply an auxiliary to traditional development? Or has no-code reached a tipping point where it will achieve widespread adoption and become the foundation of good development practice? Here are five reasons no-code is the future of application development:
1. Development’s destiny is in the data.
The no-code market is expanding rapidly, with sales of no-code solutions expected to reach $21.2 billion by 2022, according to Forrester. That will represent a five-year compound annual growth rate of more than 40%.
It’s part of a wider trend in which two-thirds of application development will be achieved through no-code or low-code tools by 2024, Gartner predicts. Sales of related technologies are slated to grow 23% in 2021. By 2024, two-thirds of application development will involve such automation tools, the analyst firm predicts.
Development professionals are even specializing in no-code or low-code approaches. In fact, 11% of global developers – some 2.57 million workers – are now no-code or low-code specialists, according to IDC.
2. In today’s world, using software to build software makes sense.
We use software to support virtually every aspect of our lives, every minute of the day. The cars we drive are powered by software. The public services we consume run on software. Your coffee-shop checkout? Software-enabled. The smartphone in your pocket? Software-dependent.
So why is your business still hand-coding the software it runs on? Why, whenever your lines of business need to optimize a process, must they fall back on slow, largely manual development cycles? Today, no-code tools can make your application creation faster, easier, and software-enabled.
Professional development teams also recognize the value of using software to create software. Developer-focused no-code and low-code platforms increasingly apply artificial intelligence (AI) bots to validate code and automate software testing. As a result, developers spend less time on rote tasks and more energy on innovation while less experienced developers are empowered to build software.
3. Employees expect to be empowered.
More than 50% of the U.S. population is under the age of 40, and they’ve grown up with devices and apps. That means much of your workforce is probably young, too. These digital natives know how to use digital tools and they expect to take advantage of them to make their jobs easier. In fact, by 2024, 80% of technology products and services will be built by people who aren’t in technology fields, Gartner predicts.
No-code tools can enable citizen developers to create new business applications quickly and easily, from simple web forms to robust workflow solutions. Intuitive drag-and-drop features can empower team members to craft the business-enabling software they need, whenever they need it. Employees on the front lines can easily iterate functionality to continually improve and meet changing business needs without burdening IT departments that are already stretched thin
4. Developers want to focus on high-value innovation.
IT departments and development teams will be happy to cede simple software creation to citizen developers. It frees up technical experts to develop more strategic, enterprise-wide capabilities and services. Doing so also boosts user satisfaction since they can meet their own needs faster, avoiding IT project backlogs.
No-code tools can also reduce “shadow IT” – lines of business that circumvent your corporate policies to purchase their own software without the IT team’s knowledge. Unapproved software can introduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities into an organization and cause it to miss out on economies of scale. An approved no-code solution used across the enterprise can nip those problems in the bud.
Just as important, professional developers can take advantage of no-code tools. Reusable no-code components help them avoid having to manually code entire programs from scratch or build cybersecurity into routine applications, forms, and workflows.
After all, preconfigured no-code components are designed around best practices, and they’ve already been tested for reliability and scalability. Sound security practices and integrations with a range of IT environments are built in.
5. Customers demand digitized processes and services.
The pandemic accelerated the digital trend toward online shopping, telehealth, remote financial services, contactless checkout and more. Customers and employees alike are not only comfortable with digital experiences; they now demand them. Therefore, digital customer service interactions were predicted to leap 40% in 2021, according to Forrester. While 85% of companies said digital processes were “nice to have” back in 2019, by 2020, 100% recognized that digital is crucial to business success, the analyst firm reports.
No-code tools can enable your company to rapidly digitize and automate routine tasks that help improve customer service. They can also extend your digitized, automated processes to both internal and external customers. The result is superior customer experiences and higher customer satisfaction.
Traditional application development can be time-consuming and expensive. It can also be slow to adapt to rapidly changing market demands. No-code tools reduce business risks through easily consumable and proven components that allow citizen developers to quickly create and implement solutions that make them more productive and effective. It’s no wonder no-code is the future of application development.
If your organization is like many, you’re considering whether you could benefit from a no-code or
low-code application development solution. Sales of no-code and low-code technologies will
grow 23% in 2021, for instance, and by 2024, two-thirds of application development will involve
these approaches, Gartner predicts.
In fact, some development pros are even specializing in no-code or low-code, with 2.57 million
developers, or 11% of the global development population, now a no-code or low-code specialist,
according to IDC.
What’s driving the growing interest in no-code and low-code? Primarily it’s rapidly shifting
customer demands, disruptive new business models, tightened IT budgets, and shortened
development cycles – all of which no-code and low-code can help address.
But vendors and analysts alike sometimes use “no-code” and “low-code” in the same breath –
even though they’re not the same thing. Each has strengths and potential weaknesses, and
each is appropriate for different situations. To understand which will work best for you in which
scenarios, it’s smart to recognize the differences between no-code and low-code development.
At the user interface level, there’s not necessarily a lot to distinguish between no-code and low-
code. Both platforms provide reusable, drag-and-drop application elements that citizen
developers or business users and programmers alike can leverage to quickly assemble
But the terms themselves offer a clue to their differences. No-code tools enable creation of
complete, usable applications without any manual programming. Low-code solutions, on the
other hand, reduce the coding required but don’t totally replace the need for programming
No-code solutions enable citizen developers to quickly and easily create value-adding
applications that make workflow processes more efficient and effective. Users build software by
dragging and dropping reusable software elements onto a design canvas. Behind the scenes,
the no-code tool assembles a functional, stable and secure application. If business needs
change, users can easily go back and fine-tune the software with new capabilities or process
No-code tools also offer advantages to IT departments. Programmers can use no-code as the
basis for sophisticated, custom applications, dropping in user interfaces, forms, workflows, and
repeatable process steps. Security and interoperability are already built into the components in
effective no-code solutions. IT departments can also offer a no-code tool in their technology
stack for use by citizen developers across the organization, which frees up IT capacity and
helps reduce the backlog of IT projects.
No-code might not be right for every situation. High-availability, mission critical processes might
be best reserved to custom developed applications, with their extensive design, development,
testing, and debugging cycles. But IT departments are embracing no-code approaches as they
recognize the value in empowering citizen developers to create their own applications, workflow
tools, web portals, and mobile apps.
Low-code solutions enable programmers of varying skill levels – as well as fairly technical
business users – to develop software rapidly and with less manual effort. Programmers can
avoid having to learn a new programming framework, code an entire application from scratch, or
test and debug every aspect of their software.
Low-code can help programmers focus on the most differentiating aspects of their new software
while accelerating repetitive tasks and the creation of standardized forms, interfaces, search
features, and other common software elements. But low-code does require manual coding and
customization to make reusable components work together and deliver advanced functionality.
And programmers employing low-code might adhere to standard processes they would follow in
traditional application development.
Should You Use No-Code or Low-Code?
No-code and low-code can each offer advantages in different situations. In many cases, no-
code can provide reusable yet customizable components to make programmers more efficient
and effective, while offering ease of use that empowers even the most non-technical users to
create business-enabling software. Low-code, in contrast, is best seen as a tool for augmenting
a programmer’s capabilities. In fact, low-code can involve a learning curve even for skilled
When selecting a no-code or low-code environment, focus less on product category and more
on capabilities. Some vendors call their solution “no-code” even though it requires some
technical knowledge. Others claim to offer both no-code and low-code features in the same
package. What’s important is that the tool you choose delivers technology that integrates with
your infrastructure and capabilities that meet your needs.
Ultimately, the rapid application development solutions you invest in should reflect your
development resources, industry and market conditions, and business and technology needs.
By understanding the differences between no-code and low-code development, you can make
an informed choice that will drive the business results you want.