Technology revolutions have become almost as frequent and sometimes as short-lived as economic cycles. Every incremental development in technology now seeks to revolutionise, disrupt and reinvent an existing space. Despite this, a space left largely untouched has been the enterprise software space. Enterprise softwares are typically legacy vendor-built software that performs a reasonably specialised role. They are large monoliths that are deeply embedded in large organisations and spread into multiple functions. In most cases, these monoliths support functions far beyond the mandate they were created for. Questioning these monoliths, seeking their revamp or removal was seen both as a costly affair and an unwarranted disruption to internal processes.
Even though these monoliths slowed down enterprises, increased bureaucracy took away from customer centricity where concerns about managing change, rethinking control environments and re-training the workforce ensured that nearly 80 percent of technology budgets continued to be spent on this legacy. The core issue, of course, was—what is the alternative? Dispensing a monolith for another and incurring time and cost for procuring something seemingly ‘better’ did not make economic sense. All that is now changing with the advent of no-code platforms.
What are no-code platforms and why make the switch?
No-code platforms mark the start of a new digital revolution that will primarily disrupt the enterprise software and services market. No-code platforms return power back to the end-user and reduce dependence on developers and coding skills. With the shortage of quality developers and coding skills, most IT projects languish for months. No-code platforms take away the most significant handicap in creating purpose built custom software—reliance on developers.
Simply stated, a no-code platform allows any user to pen their thoughts on a canvas, decide the manner in which they would like to interact with the application and design the outputs they seek without writing a line of code. Well architected no-code platforms come pre-packaged with compute engines, UI templates, forms, connectors, reporting tools and dashboards that allow users to simply drag and drop components to create enterprise-grade software. They can make iterative changes quicker and keep translating their ideas into the software without relying on developers or traditional IT skill sets. The power of enterprise software gets truly transferred to the end-user.
Applications on no-code platforms are quick to build, quick to deploy, and cost-effective to maintain and dispense. No-code applications can co-exist with existing legacy software and provide a roadmap to replace legacy applications. Shifting to no-code platforms is expected to drastically reduce the total cost of ownership and maintenance of software. Budgets allocated towards the maintenance of legacy software can be reallocated towards customer and employee-centric software.
What is the no-code opportunity?
As per Gartner, the worldwide low-code development technologies market is projected to total $13.8 billion in 2021, an increase of 22.6 percent from 2020. For a more direct comparison, as per Gartner, the enterprise software and IT service markets are expected to bring in $1.57 trillion whereas low code automation platforms alone are expected to bring in $5.75 billion, a mere 0.37 percent of the enterprise software market. There exists a significant opportunity for no-code platforms to enable optimisation and reallocation of enterprise software spends to business opportunities, engagement opportunities and processes that matter to move the business strategy forward.
Why has no-code not yet swept the market?
No-code platforms are gradually breaking into the mainstream enterprise software market. However, maintenance spends on existing legacy software makes it difficult for large organisations to re-allocate budgets. Legacy enterprise software supports a large services workforce that needs reskilling as it adapts away from core development to business understanding and enhancement of core commercial acumen. While these changes are occurring, a fundamental shift in mindset is required to ensure that no new budgetary allocation is made to enhance legacy software beyond its current mandate.
Can one afford to skip the no-code revolution?
No-code is here to stay and not a stop-gap arrangement until something better comes about. Skipping the no-code revolution could mean skipping the ability to serve a target market effectively. As newer and nimbler players realize the benefits of no-code, existing players straddled with legacy applications would start to see market share losses and limitations in their ability to expand revenue streams. A no-code revolution is no longer an option but an inevitable progression that all enterprises have to adapt to.
Are all no-code platforms the same?
No-code has been used loosely to define a set of technologies and platforms that reduce or eliminate coding. It is important to distinguish low-code platforms that simply enable the creation of websites or webpages or those that enable the creation of a few forms for data input from the true no-code platforms. True no-code platforms are pre-architected, integrated platforms with pre-built libraries, templates and compute capabilities that can help you build an end-to-end enterprise application without connecting many small pieces of software. Making an incorrect decision on what constitutes true no-code can set an enterprise back a few years in this critical transition.
No-code platforms are an inevitable next step in the digital revolution. Enterprises that recognise this early and allocate investments towards adopting and scaling out applications on no-code platforms are likely to see their recurring technology spends drop dramatically. Budgets freed from legacy tech will provide a significant competitive advantage to existing players to keep pace with the free flow of innovation brought on by new entrants each day.
—The author, Muzammil Patel is Global Head Strategy and Corporate Finance at Acies. The views expressed in the article are his own
(Edited by: By Ajay Vaishnav)