Why low code development is accelerating business success and driving digital disruption

"Low code development" sounds like one of those tech buzz-words, but in the current business and technology environment, the benefits that it is delivering to organisations around efficiency and speed to market is undeniable.

As a result, businesses are also spending big on low code development, with research from Forrester[1] showing that total spending in this area will reach $US21.2 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of an incredible 40 per cent.

The expected sharp increase in spending in low code development speaks to broader trends within global IT. CIOs are firmly focused on navigating their organisations through massive transformation projects[2], and while those are a difficult proposition, they're essential for many reasons. Chief among them is the desire to make the business digital-ready, agile, and through that have the ability to be fast to market and data-driven. In other words, CIOs are looking to transition their businesses away from being reactive to becoming a disruptor, with first to market solutions and innovations that give their organisation the edge. That is exactly what low code development enables, making it an ideal complement to the overall transformation strategy.

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Low code development is a useful part of that overall innovation agenda, with benefits that closely align with the broader IT strategy. Low code enables the rapid build and deployment of applications. An application that would take months to bring to market can now be launched in a matter of weeks, and in-kind, new iterations can be deployed to that app in a much faster time, allowing for a truly agile approach to software development.

Understanding low code development

But what is low code development, and how does it enable that increased speed to market? Low code development is when a platform – a low code development platform (LCDP) – is used by a developer to create new applications using graphical user interfaces rather than traditional computer programming. To put it simply, it revolutionises software development in the same way that Microsoft Windows and Apple's Macintosh user interfaces allowed computer users to ditch text-input DOS and start interacting with their computers in the way that we continue to do so to this day.

Because the LCDP platform is both visual and the nitty-gritty of the coding is taken off the user's hands, it allows applications to be constructed much more quickly. It's also much more cost-effective and efficient, as applications no longer need teams of coders working away at them.

As an added benefit during the current health crisis in which self-isolation and working from home is highly recommended to avoid communicable disease spread, low code development gives developers the ability to quickly access company data and work on applications remotely.

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pwc, Business Case For Agility

When you look at the challenges that organisations face when building custom applications, two of the top three are related to the length of time required to develop an application. One is a difficulty in meeting business requirements on time, and other is that it takes too long to update apps:

However, when an organisation shifts to low code development platforms, in all cases that organisation sees an improvement in addressing these issues, and in over 50 per cent of cases, users report a significant improvement:

With LCDPs being so clearly capable of assisting organisations in addressing key challenges to their overall IT vision of becoming faster to market and disruptive, it should come as no surprise that organisations are looking to invest significantly in the space.

What to look for in a low code development platform

There are a number of low code development platforms available on the market. United Planet's Intrexx platform has been recognised as a leader in the space, with Gartner placing it in the Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals three times consecutively for its ability to epitomise the holy grail of what a low-code platform should deliver. Those organisations that invest in Intrexx can expect not only a faster time to market with apps and at a lower cost, but the platform is also designed to hit all the core requirements of a great LCDP:

  1. Process and management capability: "Low code" should not mean "simple", and Intrexx has been developed with the understanding that enterprises need sophisticated process management, case management, and rules management capabilities. It offers something well beyond the basic ability to build form-entry or data-gathering projects that most other low code platforms focus on.
  2. The ability to iterate: No application is released into the wild and considered "finished" now. The nature of agile development is such that iteration and ongoing development is a critical process, and Intrexx facilitates that ability to adapt to a continuous improvement cycle.
  3. The ability to integrate: Intrexx is based on Java, a standard programming language that will forever be relevant in technology. This means that it also "talks to" and integrates with other parts of the software environment seamlessly. It would be pointless for a LCDP to work in languages that were incompatible with industry standards.
  4. Future-proof: With the rate of technology development accelerating, organisations need to ensure that their platforms and tools are able to handle the onset of new approaches to data, machine learning, automation, AI, and other technology innovation. Intrexx is a highly flexible platform that organisations can rely on to remain relevant as those innovations mature.
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Intrexx in operation

One Australian organisation that has adopted Intrexx, Advance, is a specialist in application development, website development, business intelligence, processes and consulting. With the modern Australian organisation looking to leverage multiple data sources and work heavily with applications, Advance adopted Intrexx as a powerful, flexible tool that it could use to develop and deploy applications and solutions for its clients quickly.

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https://www.intrexx.com/en/home

"For one example, we were able to build a business intelligence and reporting system where there was a further requirement for managers to provide daily feedback or context to operating reports and financials. Advance Marketing & BDM lead, Peter Dawidowski, said. "Intrexx lets you build and deploy business apps quickly. The current COVID-19 crisis is impacting businesses and we need to respond quickly. One example is a request to build apps to support new processes and compliance requirements with crucial supply chains in the medical industry. We can do that with Intrexx today and that has a real impact."

Advance has been able to leverage Intrexx to "supercharge" existing systems such as its own internal use of Xero for accounting, right through to building some truly unique solutions that are highly specific to vertical markets. For example, a local food processor used digital scales, fridges, and other IoT-enabled devices that were creating a wealth of data. Advance was able to use its Intrexx tools to build an app to connect to these devices, collect the data being generated, and then integrate with other systems to greatly improve efficiencies in the production process, as well as address critical governance, risk and compliance requirements.

The strength that any low code development platform should be judged against is whether it offers the versatility and flexibility to create apps that seamlessly integrate with and enhance an organisation's transformation goals. With sectors and verticals increasingly relying on bespoke, highly tailored applications to their sector, the LCDP needs to be incredibly versatile to be of value across the entire marketplace. 

As Advance's experience has shown, Intrexx is one of those rare LCDPs that does deliver and exceed expectations when it comes to the sheer flexibility of the solution.


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomtaulli/2019/02/17/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-low-code-market/#455d12e05afc

[2] https://www.digitalpulse.pwc.com.au/agile-transformation-business-case/