Understanding the Low-Code/No-Code Movement

By Ross Garrett in API Industry Trends Posted Aug 8, 2018

Over the past several years, Low-Code/No-Code ways to solve technical problems has become the technology de jure. It’s not just the latest shiny object in the world of integration, but rather a slow, gradual evolution that started with WIMP in the early 1970s, spawned into products like WYSIWYG web editors, and has now permeated almost all application categories.

 Low-Code / No-Code Movement

However, this surge in popularity doesn’t come without confusion and disruption - across both end-users and vendors. Even the terminology “Low-Code” and “No-Code” can be misleading, as the distinction isn’t necessarily about how much code is required to solve a problem, but rather the persona involved and the scope of the problem in question.

No-Code

Over on the “No-Code” side of the house are business users aiming to solve a relatively simple integration problem - often a “point-to-point” scenario or a trivial business process - but without needing any software development skills or writing even a single line of code. Gartner calls these users “Citizen Integrators”, and while I have never seen an actual person call themselves that, the term is designed to create delineation between highly-skilled integrators and the rest of the enterprise population or workforce.

LOW-CODE

On the “Low-Code” side of the house, we have quite different personas, tackling different problems. Here you’ll find professional developers, expert system integrators and enterprise architects all with extensive technical abilities. The aim of the game in this domain is to promote re-use and help streamline and simplify integration tasks - with the end result being a enterprise-grade integration scenario or application.

Given this separation, you shouldn’t choose between one paradigm or the other - ultimately business requirements and the demand for innovation may start amongst Citizen Integrators, but it’s the CIO’s office that should enable the business to act upon these business requirements. Put another way, IT should look for ways to solve integration problems faster, but also looks for platforms and vendors that can extend this capability to the hands of business users. 

Guidance for CIOs

Many IT departments may push back on the low-code/no-code movement - as a protectionist reaction to defend their role and credibility. After all, IT has been telling business stakeholders for years that the multi-year, multi-million dollar plan is the only way to build enterprise software.

While this was true 20 years ago, when enterprise systems were implemented by 100s of consultants and experts at a multi-million dollar cost, now with low-code/no-code platforms, the same systems can be implemented by smaller teams at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time. Growth-oriented CIOs will run towards this type of innovation.

In summary - the only decision for IT leaders is to embrace these new technology, not choose between them.

  1. “No-Code” is the experience business users have come to expect - the opportunity lies in enabling this experience without creating technology silos or losing control of how sensitive data is being shared and synchronized between applications.
  2. “Low-Code” is a pattern that enables organizations to get more from their technical teams, in less time - creating the platform for innovation that’s needed to compete in today’s increasingly digital world.

Learn more about the low-code/no-code movement and other trends in the world of integration in our 2018 State of API Integration Report.

Get the State of API Integration Report