by Vito Solimene, Founder & Chief Technology Officer
The business environment is more turbulent than ever, and most business leaders recognize that innovation and agility are required for their organizations to succeed. Unfortunately, the inflexibility of legacy technology – especially software systems – gets in the way. Why is this so?
The reason is insidious: Years or decades of customizing legacy applications led to massive and increasing technical debt. As a result, changing legacy systems is extremely challenging and established companies often struggle to become more dynamic. The lack of agility has led to rapid adoption of “low-code” and “no-code” solutions that promise to combat technical debt and foster agility by opening application development to users, or citizen developers, from across the business.
But because the two approaches seem similar, they are often lumped into a single category (often and regrettably referred to as ‘LCNC’) which has created a major misconception in the market that low-code and no-code solutions are the same. This does a disservice to business leaders who need to assess the real value of their options when, in fact, there are stark differences between the two methods.
The low-code approach enables IT departments to become more efficient and responsive to requests from the business because it simplifies the development process. However, a major stumbling block is that low-code methods still require users to possess basic coding skills to develop or customize complex applications. That means all low-code solutions must have a “trap door” that exposes traditional coding and will always require intervention by professional developers. The fact that the trap door exists means low-code methods reduce, but do not eliminate, the low-level programming required to modify existing systems which will always lead to technical debt over time.
Some business leaders believe they must accept the burden of custom coding – and the associated technical debt – because they want to build complex rules to define and operate their business but don't believe those rules can be implemented with a no-code platform. This is also a misconception.
Because no-code development provides a simplified way to build applications without any programming skills, a widespread and mistaken belief is that no-code capabilities are limited to building simple applications that cannot support the ongoing, rigorous, and complex demands of an enterprise. This notion is unfounded.
In reality, no-code platforms can deliver enterprise-grade capabilities with unmatched speed and efficiency. They maintain a holistic approach to security, integrate with existing investments in enterprise IT, support established controls and compliance policies, and work seamlessly across the company ecosystem of customers, suppliers, and internal stakeholders. All hallmarks of enterprise-grade applications.
To illustrate this point, at Nextworld we have developed thousands of applications on our enterprise no-code platform that routinely provide mission-critical solutions across a range of industries. From manufacturing to wholesale distribution to inventory-dependent services, no-code applications are consistently proven capable of delivering enterprise-grade solutions for core systems and edge functionality. Some of the familiar and necessary components of these solutions include:
Clearly, no-code solutions can deliver an extensive range of enterprise-grade functionalities – including reporting, complex workflows and business rules, notifications, triggers, and automated forms – that are fundamental to organizations of all types. And they do it without a trap door to programming or accruing technical debt.
So, what’s the case for using an enterprise no-code platform as the basis of an organization’s IT landscape? We’ll explore that idea in the second installment.
(1) US General Accounting Office, Agencies Need to Develop Modernization Plans for Critical Legacy Systems, https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-19-471
(2) Enterprise Reboot: Scale digital technologies to grow and thrive in the new reality; KPMG and HFS Research report, 2020), p.17 https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2020/08/enterprise-reboot.pdf
Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Vito is a veteran of the enterprise software industry, having worked in the business for more than 28 years. His experience began at J.D. Edwards, where he was instrumental in the design and architecture for the application development toolset. Eventually, Vito become Vice President of Engineering and head of application development for J.D. Edwards. He continued in that capacity through the eventual acquisition by PeopleSoft and then ultimately Oracle. Most recently his responsibilities at Oracle involved leading the application development team for Core HR.