The software development industry is on the brink of another monumental shift in a landscape marked by rapid digitisation and innovation. A recent forecast from Gartner suggests that “by 2026, 75% of new application development will be done using low-code platforms“. This bold prediction, if realized, could upend traditional paradigms of software creation and thrust us into a new era where application development is democratized, and speed is king.
But what are the driving forces behind this impending shift? More importantly, how will this reshape the role of professional developers and the quality of applications produced?
In this post, we will delve into five compelling and, perhaps, contentious reasons why low code could become the dominant force in new application development. We invite you to explore these arguments with an open mind, question them, and join us in the discussion. After all, the future of our industry could very well hinge on these trends.
Stay with us as we unravel the factors propelling the low-code revolution.
Increased Demand for Applications
The digital era has ushered in an insatiable demand for applications. Businesses across all industries are continuously seeking innovative digital solutions to streamline operations, improve customer experiences, and create competitive advantages. This has led to an explosion in the number of applications needed – a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.
While reliable and robust, traditional development methods are often slow and resource-intensive, given the speed at which businesses now need to operate, there’s a growing concern that these methods may not be able to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for applications.
This is where our first controversial point arises:
- Can the current number of professional developers alone truly handle this surge?
- Is it feasible or desirable for them to shoulder the entire burden of application creation?
- Or should we explore alternatives – like low-code platforms – that could accelerate the development process and meet the demand more effectively?
There’s no denying that professional developers bring expertise and sophistication to application development that’s currently unrivalled. However, with the pressing need for speed and scale, we must ask:
Is the future of application development a race that only the swift and numerous can win?
The Democratization of Software Development
As we grapple with the demand for more applications, a transformative idea has emerged: the democratization of software development. This concept proposes that application creation should not be exclusive to those with formal coding knowledge. Instead, it should be accessible to a broader population within an organization – the so-called “citizen developers“.
Low-code platforms have become the torchbearers of this revolution. By offering intuitive, drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built components, they enable non-technical individuals to build functional applications. This could relieve pressure on professional developers, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks while citizen developers handle less complicated projects.
Here’s where we introduce our second controversial point:
- Is this democratization a boon or a bane for professional developers? On the one hand, it could free them from mundane tasks and allow for a more efficient division of labour. On the other hand, it could also be viewed as undermining the value of their expertise.
- Furthermore, are organizations ready to trust their critical business applications in the hands of non-professionals?
- What are the implications for software quality and security?
It’s a complex issue, and both sides have valid arguments. The question of how democratization will reshape the software development landscape deserves careful thought and open discussion.
The Agility of Low-Code
In the world of software development, agility has become a cornerstone principle. The ability to quickly respond to changes, be it customer needs, market trends, or regulatory requirements, can often spell the difference between success and obsolescence. This is where low-code platforms shine.
Low-code development allows quicker iterations and modifications, enabling businesses to adapt their software solutions rapidly. This agility could be a significant advantage in an environment where change is the only constant.
Yet, this brings us to our third controversial point:
- Are we sacrificing quality and robustness for speed? Traditional coding methods, while slower, often result in more stable and reliable applications. In contrast, the rapidity of low-code development might engender applications that lack the same level of complexity or depth.
- Is it possible we’re compromising what makes a great application in our pursuit of agility?
Or are we simply evolving to meet the demands of an ever-changing digital landscape, where speed is just as important as stability?
This issue is not black and white, and the balance between speed and quality is a topic for discussion. This conversation becomes increasingly relevant as we move towards a future dominated by low-code development.
The Economic Advantage
The economic implications of low-code development cannot be overlooked. In a time where businesses are continuously looking for ways to optimize resources and increase efficiency, low-code platforms present an enticing proposition.
Low-code development can reduce costs by accelerating the development process, thereby decreasing the hours billed for a project. Additionally, empowering citizen developers may lead to a more cost-effective distribution of labour, as professional developers are freed up to tackle more complex and critical tasks.
However, this leads us to our fourth controversial point:
- Are we sacrificing the long-term sustainability of applications for short-term economic gains? Low-code applications, while cheaper and quicker to produce, might not have the same lifespan or scalability as traditionally coded ones. Businesses might save money in the short term, only to incur higher costs later due to maintenance issues or the need for further development. This is often referred to as “technical debt”.
Another point of contention is whether this economic advantage truly exists. Some argue that the costs of implementing and managing low-code platforms, especially at scale, could offset the supposed savings.
Is the shift to low-code development driven by a genuine economic advantage, or is it a mirage that could lead to more significant costs down the line? This question is pivotal to understanding the rise of low code, and we’re eager to hear your insights on this.
The Role of AI in Low-Code Platforms
As artificial intelligence continues to evolve and integrate with various technologies, it’s no surprise that it’s making its way into low-code platforms. AI can help automate some parts of the development process, making low-code platforms more accessible and efficient. This could significantly enhance the capabilities of citizen developers and potentially even allow for more sophisticated applications to be built with low code.
This leads us to our final controversial point:
- Could AI eventually replace human developers? If AI continues to advance and can handle more complex tasks, what will be the role of professional developers? Will they still be needed, or will they become supervisors and maintainers of AI systems?
There’s also a question of whether AI’s role in low-code platforms could lead to a homogenization of applications, as they might all start to follow similar patterns and lose their unique qualities.
Integrating AI into low-code platforms is a fascinating development, but it raises many questions about the future of our profession. As AI becomes a more significant part of the low-code conversation, it’s crucial to consider these implications. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.
In conclusion, we stand at the cusp of a significant transformation in the software development landscape. Gartner predicted that low-code platforms could dominate new application development by 2026. This shift could bring many changes, influencing the demand for applications, democratizing software development, increasing agility, impacting economic decisions, and integrating AI into development processes.
Yet, each of these driving factors brings a set of controversial points that merit discussion. The role of professional developers, the quality of applications produced, the true economic impact, and the potential influence of AI are all areas of debate as we move towards a future potentially dominated by low code.
These are not easy questions to answer, and the reality will likely be a complex blend of these factors. What’s clear is that the low-code revolution presents an opportunity for us to reevaluate our approaches to application development and to engage in thoughtful, forward-looking conversations about the future of our industry.
We hope that this post has provided some food for thought and stimulated a lively discussion. We invite you to share your perspectives, experiences, and ideas in the comments below. The software development landscape is changing, and your voice is essential to that change.