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Catching up with Red Hat Mobile to talk about low code in the enterprise

Enterprise 5,083 views
Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2017 by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

Catching up with Red Hat Mobile to talk about low code in the enterprise
Low code is a movement that has emerged in the marketplace in recent times, not only for mobile but also for business process management (BPM) and other application development areas. What company can resist the pull of low-cost and relatively fast development times? Especially when it's as simple as a drag and drop gesture away. So it's not surprising that many big names are throwing themselves into the ring to see how well they can compete against other providers in a thriving marketplace. 

ADM: What is Red Hat doing in regards to low-code?


Red Hat: Both our Red Hat Mobile Application Platform and our BPM Suite have low code tooling to enable faster and more responsive application development. Low code is especially relevant for mobile and process-oriented applications since these are areas where the business can be enabled to adapt and respond quickly to changing demand - and not have to always rely on IT to have the time and resource to deliver.

For the mobile application platform, low code tools help a non-developer to create a forms-based mobile app, quickly and easily, by means of drag and drop components. Think of the workflow for a field service worker. It may involve paper-based work orders that can easily be available as mobile forms on their device - with data fields such as customer location, service description, image capture, mapping, schedule, and sign-off. Such an app, when integrated with back-office systems, can streamline workforce management processes and eliminate many manual and time-consuming activities.

This low code forms builder offers a powerful way for a business department to get a mobile app up and running quickly either as a prototype or to meet a business need. At the same time, using the mobile app platform ensures that this app can access other functionality such as integration with data sources, lifecycle management, centralized security, and policy management.

ADM: What are you all doing that’s different than your competitors?


Red Hat: Red Hat’s expertise in open source and the power of the open source community offers a good alignment for the low code initiatives that Red Hat is working on. This has had a significant impact on the roadmap for the Mobile Application Platform. For example, through the open source project, Raincatcher, we have developed open source modules that can be used in creating mobile workforce management solutions. This helps developers assemble full mobile solutions with out-of-the-box modules from the community.

ADM: What are some of the biggest trends you are seeing in the mobile industry around low-code?


Red Hat:
The emergence of citizen developers (e.g. business analysts, lines of business, developers that sit in business units) is a response to the shift towards more business-led decision making in digital transformation initiatives. No longer does the IT department have full control and decision-making power in software. Commonly available software tools and software-as-a-service (SaaS) have empowered people outside the traditional software development realm to create some of their own solutions. While this led to shadow IT practices, low code is a way for organizations to reduce shadow IT by empowering the business with tools to get their solutions to market faster - while still ensuring that IT can control core aspects of integration, security, and management.

There is a plethora of low code solutions and many different approaches in today’s market. It is hard to define the scope of what low code is for this reason - is it graphical visualization/modeling tools, is it pre-built components, is it drag and drop UI/UX tooling?

Bottom line is that the overall goal is to increase speed to market and help bridge the skills gap in developer resource, so whether we call that low code or rapid mobile app development or something else, the focus of low code is on speed and efficiency… and it’s still evolving.

ADM: What are some use cases for low-code software?


Red Hat:
Some simple mobile app use cases include:

Moving from paper or web-based forms to mobile forms for things like inspections, work orders, surveys, invoices, checklists, inventories, timesheets, approvals, account creation, customer receipts, insurance claims, and more.

Remote worker solutions, for example a simple app for a sales rep to generate a quotation for a customer and complete an order with customer signature, all while with the customer. Think of the insurance industry, pharma, healthcare, manufacturing etc. where being able to access relevant information and complete a sale on the spot generates more revenue while making sales more efficient.

Event-driven or one-off mobile apps that can be simple but effective. A good example is of a maintenance crew being able to quickly assess and prioritize repairs following a weather-related or other damaging event.

Simple informational apps - e.g. for an event, facility, etc.

Low code is also good for prototyping - low code is great for a business to experiment and get feedback on early design of mobile solutions without investing too much time and effort.

ADM: Tell us what you think the Achilles heel of low-code is?


Red Hat: Thinking that low code fits all mobile use cases. This is not the case. There are many mobile use cases that require more complex development and integration, and low code can only go so far to help, if at all. The use case should drive the decision whether to use low code tools and how.

Thinking that low code replaces the need for IT and/or developers. It will not.

How low code works for the app lifecycle and versioning of devices, operating systems, databases etc. Don’t be fooled that an app is “one and done”. Low code apps can seem like a quick fix but may be more tactical than strategic if not tied into a more centralized approach to app dev.

Low code solutions and how they integrate securely with enterprise data - this can create security vulnerabilities unless integration is controlled and simplified.

Over-simplifying enterprise mobile app development. Enterprise application development can not be achieved through low code

ADM: Do skilled developers need to be worried about the advent of low code? Will tech-savvy business people be able to use low code to do the job of developers?


Red Hat: No, low code will not replace the need for developers nor will it enable business to build applications themselves. Low code should be seen as a means to unburden developers from reacting to every need from the business, allowing them to focus on more complex coding applications and clear backlogs.

Even though the perception is that business people use low code tools, often this is not the case. It may be a business analyst or a developer who sits in the business unit that uses low code tools.

Developers can also use low code even though they may be skeptical. They like to have control over code that is ultimately delivered but many of the earlier low-code solutions tended to hide the actual code behind graphical tools.  The newer generation of low-code tools is smarter, and allows developers to switch between the code and the models, and make changes to the code, insert custom code etc.  The intent is to give the developer the same degree of control over the code as they would have with the tools they currently use, but enable them to generate UIs and business logic much more quickly.

ADM: Would the following statement be true or false: Behind every low-code platform, there are real programmers doing the work?


Red Hat: True - but fewer programmers are needed and they don’t have to code everything from scratch.

As mentioned previously low code can’t solve every aspect of app development. There are other complexities around UI/UX, integration, deployment that often require custom coding.

Also, don’t think that low code is just for non-developers. It can be seen as a way to speed some parts of their work.

ADM: Does low code offer any improvements and time-savers for developers?


Red Hat: Yes. Depending on the low code tooling (and there are many different tools, platforms and vendors out there), it may help developer efficiency, especially those that are more business-oriented or that are part of the business unit. It may go against the grain for many developers so it is a matter of how good the tool is and the value it brings to a developer.




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