The tech field has a diversity problem. Could low-code and no-code software lead to more opportunities or a wider range of people? Low-code and no-code software development tools aren't just a way to make people more productive. They may bring in fresh new thinking into enterprises, as well open up more opportunities in the technology field for women and under-represented minorities.
Also: What is low-code and no-code? A guide to development platforms
"We're living in a very unusual time in the advent of coding," Jenn Stirrup, founder and CEO of Data Relish, pointed out in a recent post. "Traditionally, coding has been challenging, and it is limited to people who could afford to go to university and learn code for four years."
With the rising trend toward lifelong learning through online courses and boot camps, there are opportunities for users outside IT departments to development basic coding skills, Stirrup says. "Low-code and no-code application development uses development tools that enable people without a background in programming to create software that automates work processes."
The urgency of encouraging greater citizen development was surfaced in a recent Microsoft survey of 900 users and executives. "Embracing low-code or no-code platforms can also help combat the IT industry's gender disparity," writes Richard Riley, senior director of product marketing for Microsoft's Power Platform. "Currently, fewer than 20% of cloud computing professionals are women."
It works both ways. Companies facilitating low-code development may find it easier to attract talent. More than 80% of users and potential users of low-code or no-code platforms report that they would be more willing to work for a company that invests in their technical upskilling, Riley says.
While the survey was underwritten by Microsoft, which is advancing the low-code concept to promote its Power Platform, it also makes a compelling case about the impact of low-code and no-code environments. Namely, that enabling users to quickly build their own solutions enables a highly innovative and less bureaucratic environment. A majority of low- or no-code users, 82%, agree that the technology helps provide an opportunity for software users to improve their development knowledge and technical skills. In addition, the use of no-code or low-code platforms or apps is shown to have led to an 83% positive impact on work satisfaction and workload by users, and an 80% positive impact on morale by users.
An overwhelming majority of managers and users (71% and 76%, respectively) point to a lack of awareness around potential use cases for low-code software. Also ranking highly are cybersecurity concerns and the cost and training needed for their employees to maximize the value of these platforms or apps.
"The call to invest in employee development is urgent," Riley says, noting that 71% of potential users are less likely to consider or stay with employers that do not invest in their technical skills. "Leaders and managers must critically examine the opportunities that they are offering employees and how they support their IT teams, business analysts, and developers of all identities," he says. "When it comes to offering meaningful learning opportunities and a clear path for advancement, low-code or no-code development platforms might be the answer they have been looking for."
The beauty "of no-code solutions is that you're getting the unexpected programmer, the person who understands the business and who can do something to solve a problem internally, increasing productivity by potentially helping you," says Stirrup.