What is a Low Code Platform?
In simple terms, low-code/no-code platforms are types of visual software development environments that allow “citizen developers” to drag and drop application components, connect them together and create business apps. With many types available, they are typically cloud platforms ranging from business intelligence to marketing automation and e-commerce, to workflow automation and websites.
The challenge with these tools is that they are typically disbursed throughout an organization. They function in silos in various departments or business units with very little visibility from an IT, Governance, or Architecture perspective, and are often not compliant and pose a risk to data privacy. A nightmare for any CIO, commonly known as “Shadow IT”.
Agile and Rapid Adoption
As challenging as these tools are to manage, they do add value to any business unit or business area where they have been deployed as they improve productivity and drive digital transformation. In many cases, the business process owners are quite passionate about the tooling because it allows them to be quick and nimble when it comes to adapting business processes to customer or market needs.
So how does one marry these two worlds together to achieve the benefits of “low code” and ensure that all the underlying security and governance requirements are achieved?
Low Code 3.0
Low Code 3.0 is a platform that allows citizen developers to build local productivity tools in a secure and managed environment. It allows these applications to then evolve, if required, into line of business solutions where the citizen developers work together with the consulting and development teams (also know and fusion teams).
Should these applications then be extended to flagship applications on the platform, they are managed by professional business solution teams. The key is to have all these teams supported by a center of excellence, coupled with a community of practice in the business. The key thinking here is that you build up from the low-code/no-code tools into key business applications.
It also forces the flagship developers to rethink the components that they are building in terms of reusability and componentization and how they collaborate and socialize these modules within the internal community of practice.
The defining trends for “Low Code 3.0” are as follows:
- Whole company transformation engine
- Everything connected through one data platform
- Intelligence infused everywhere
- Seamlessly woven into collaborative workflows
The Complete Microsoft Cloud
Arguably, the Microsoft Cloud is the only complete cloud for Low Code 3.0 requirements and is a key platform to drive digital transformation. It is underpinned by the power of Microsoft Azure which manages identity, security, management and compliance, then augmented by Developer Tools such as DevOps and the Low-Code Power Platform. Coupled with the productivity suite of Microsoft 365 and the Dynamics 365 Apps it completes the entire “Low Code 3.0” framework.
Microsoft’s Low-Code Platform is the most comprehensive responsible innovation engine for deploying Low Code 3.0 at a company-wide scale.
If you are still not convinced, this is what Satya Nadella had to say at the Q1FY22 earnings feedback:
“Power Apps is the undisputed market leader in low-code/no-code tools, now with 10 million monthly active users. Ninety-one percent of the Fortune 500 use the service to build applications. And 129 organizations have more than 10,000 users including 3M, EY, GSK, Marks and Spencer, Sony, and ZF Group.”
Analyst Brent Thill was quoted saying: “The revenue from Power Platform is immaterial today, but it could have a larger impact on all of Microsoft’s products and become a multi-billion-dollar growth pillar, comparable to the early days of Azure.”
In my opinion, the Power Platform is already a game-changer, and I would encourage every organization to have this platform in their quiver of arrows. I would also encourage any young graduate or industry entrant to become familiar with the platform and its capabilities, not only will it put you at the forefront of technology innovation, but it will also accelerate your career in any organization if you have a good understanding of the workings of the Power Platform.