Next generation low code platforms snub citizen developers
|Sumit Sarkar in Low Code No Code Tuesday, January 15, 2019|
As businesses trend more toward buy-not-build solutions, they look to development platforms that can offer frictionless delivery of applications without needing to provide additional training for developers. Therefore, it is important to differentiate between the high-productivity/low-code approaches and the 'citizen developer' approach: one is for dev professionals looking to operate more efficiently, and the other is, essentially, an amateur programmer creating simple applications – not ideal for professional IT delivery.
Analysts have touted the growth of high productivity application development platforms which are attractive to many enterprises unable to find the necessary digital talent. These evolving platforms, also described as no or low code, focus on increasing productivity over traditional software development by expanding the pool of talent that can deliver apps. Many professional (or pro) developers remain highly skeptical, believing that these platforms jeopardize jobs and stymie innovation. A recent survey of 5,500+ pro developers titled, “Low Code Platforms – What Developers Think and Why”, revealed that 66% of pro developers felt negative about no/low code platforms and a surprising 72% of managers/architects felt the same way. How can businesses differentiate with no/low code platforms that promise to fill a digital talent gap when the desired talent fears the very platforms enterprises are looking to adopt?
The desire to adopt higher productivity app platforms is driven from established enterprises looking to expand their digital capabilities. A key driver is that customers increasingly expect consumer-grade experiences with enterprises, which have been paved by tech giants like Apple, Amazon or Google. Meeting this demand is often described as the industry trend, “digital transformation”. While digital transformation has become a broad marketing buzzword, it’s a very real concept with many facets. Therefore, this article will focus on strategies that enable established industries to leverage tech to further differentiate in areas that make their business unique. For example, Lowes (US based home improvement retailer) announced last week it will hire 2,000 software engineers amid company overhaul and cited a clear strategy to better engage professional customers such as contractors. Where does this type of shift fit into a low code platform conversation and need for digital talent?
Assessing digital talent by business needs
Businesses often need to accelerate delivery of different classes of apps:
- Consumer-grade. Delivering beautiful and differentiated app experiences for customers or business partners
- Internal productivity. Automating internal processes and workflows that increase operational productivity
There are two general types of developers to deliver these classes of apps:
- Pro developers. They build apps and are well versed in one or more programming language. They may focus on specific areas like the front end or back end, while others are more full stack. Low code approaches can increase their productivity in exchange for yielding some level of control. This may include built-in application lifecycle management; visually guided development with prescriptive UI components or a framework that requires specific programming languages.
- Citizen developers creating applications on no or low code platforms. The required skill set is often available outside of pro-development teams and do not have a formal background in computer science.
When enterprises are looking to differentiate in how they engage customers or partners, they must turn to professional developers that have the necessary skills to deliver innovative app experiences that are aligned with business goals, such as focusing on the needs of home improvement contractors for Lowe’s. It’s unrealistic to expect developers to drag and drop pre-built UI components to deliver a comparable app experience.
What do pro developers want in an app platform?
In selecting app platforms between productivity and control, there are certain tradeoffs vendors and developers must accept. A higher productivity app platform that can attract pro developers should:
- Provide necessary control over the design and development of the app experience
- Be developed on cross-platform frameworks to avoid writing repetitive code
- Deploy apps on a serverless architecture
- Abstract and virtualize enterprise data and auth systems
And platforms that adopt open source development frameworks are expected to further win over developer mindshare. These are not the attributes of traditional low code platforms which is driving a need for next generation low code platforms.
Pro developers should love your platform choice
Low code is rapidly evolving to cater to pro developers which means writing less code, or writing it once, and running across modern app channels such as native iOS, native Android, web, chat, etc. Developers have always feared legacy systems, industry-specific file conversions or complex auth flows which is where enterprise-grade platforms focused on data management really shine for developer productivity. This combination will accelerate delivery of innovation and attract pro developers that otherwise look to work for tech companies. Traditional low code approaches remain popular to accelerate the IT backlog to automate internal workflows using citizen developers, but to really differentiate using app experiences– adopt a next generation low code platform that attracts widely available professional developers. Free food also helps.
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