Improved Application Development Using LowCode and NoCode Platform Solutions
NoCode: Transforming The Future of Application Development; by John J. Tuba
Improved Application Development Using LowCode and NoCode Platform Solutions A recent phenomenon in the software industry should really be no surprise at all to anyone who can step back and observe the evolution of technology. The terms LowCode and NoCode (LC/NC) have become popularized as new buzz words and many people in the software industry are racing to get in. So, what is this sensation about and how will this affect the lives of people outside the software industry? Why should anyone who is not directly working in software development care? People often can’t really see what trend is around the next corner, but this tech trend seems pretty clear to us at ACENji. We provide this paper to explain NoCode, and LowCode, differentiate their purposes, and explore why these may be the revolution you have been waiting for. There are many examples from history that you, the reader, can probably think back upon. Discoveries in your own life that impress you now, such as personal computers and cell phones. A crazy lesson about predicting the future of technology is taken from this quote of a very smart, yet my somewhat vision challenged physics instructor from high school; “Someday you’ll be out in the world needing to do calculations and when that day comes, you may not be able to find a working calculator but there will always be a slide rule available”. Such a profoundly misguided prediction of future technology by such a remarkably smart guy. Never bet against the evolution of technology in the long run. As for LowCode and NoCode technologies, are these truly transformative technologies that can be counted on or just a passing fad? Recall 8 track tapes and 5.25” floppy disks. Those were also transformative and by today’s standards, primitive. Yet, in their day they were state of the art, and both set new directions for music portability and widespread use of personal computers. Typically, early intenders pay a large price and work very hard to overcome technological hurdles. But those technologies couldn’t be what they are today without someone jumping over those early hurdles. Evolution, invention, and technology must conquer each iterative challenge as it emerges. Often competing solutions make some inventions obsolete very quickly. So, what does all this forbode for LC/NC? Software development is not at the “floppy disk, 8 track tape” phase. It is well beyond that. The technical challenge of getting software developed more efficiently through modular architecture has been an ongoing challenge for years and developers have conquered much of it. The direction is established to enable those with ideas and clearly organized, logical workflows the ability to create robust, working applications without needing to learn to write code. This should be appreciated as the next rational evolutionary phase in software development. Software technology is moving forward quickly to liberate clever, creative people from the daunting task of spending years learning complex and rigid code languages before they can bring their ideas to life. The LC/NC movement will proceed with confidence with the understanding that beyond each technical challenge is a solution. A Brief History of Software Development: Why discuss the history of software? Please, permit and humor a few brief lines to provide a little perspective as it relates to this LC/NC trend. Especially to those who did not witness a lot of this history first-hand. In the earliest days of (electronic) computers, a method for communicating with machines was the challenge. The only logical language humans and machines understood was electrical current. “On or off”. That’s it, binary code transformed information into 1’s and 0’s. From there, early IT pioneers created methods of feeding strands of binary pulsations into machines to generate output. From there, they started to take long and tedious, repetitive efforts and bundle these logical algorithms into more efficient “languages”, written as “CODE”. Early languages from the 1950’s include business and engineering languages such as COBOL (common business-oriented language) and Fortran (formula translation). These provided a trajectory still guiding much of what we do in IT. Yet those who still write these languages today do so purely for nostalgia or historic maintenance. In the 1960, the guys who developed and used these languages were geniuses, heroic in their efforts to invent methods to efficiently communicate with machines. Fast forward to 2022; the methods of efficient communication through the bundling of algorithms have become almost child’s play. In fact, children do play plenty using graphical interfaces on wireless devices able to clump together logical thought, displayed as graphical icons, and assembled into rational workstreams. The average teenager can now create, communicate, collect, and share their ideas with others in ways that their grandparents could hardly have imagined 50 years ago. It’s not an exaggeration to say the technology of today would have sounded like science fiction in the 1970s, yet here it is. So, one might ask; where does technology go from here? Using applications is one thing, but creating them? Difficult, unless of course, you are one of the well-educated software developers with an intimate knowledge of writing code, until now. It is now possible to put your slide rule away and perform differential equations on a free cell phone app. Developers need not worry and will still be around and in high demand. In fact, the ever-growing demand to satisfy the craving for more development is precisely why LC/NC exists and will continue to evolve and flourish. High demand for developers and an expectation of high-quality products will become overwhelming without some efficiency gain. LC/NC is one of the solutions to provide that anticipated efficiency gain. The insatiable demand for application development has driven the emergence of LC/NC software technology. Although much of the LC/NC was created to improve developer efficiency in getting products done, the result has also provided the opportunity for any clever, creative citizen developer to create apps without knowing anything about writing code by using a NoCode tool (application). Several NoCode applications exist and given the right tool, a citizen developer can create a broad range of applications, benefiting from the many years and hard work of professional developers. But can NoCode do everything? No, not yet. But it can do an awful lot and it will continue to evolve and solve those challenges as needed. LowCode / NoCode and How They Work: Both LowCode and NoCode (LC/NC) technologies have their purpose and place. Consider this: does having socket wrenches in your toolbox make your clamp and hammer obsolete? Obviously not as they serve different purposes depending on the task you encounter. Both are valued and so it is with LC/NC. LowCode is the term used to define the obvious, incremental step towards NoCode. LowCode is characterized by a useful bundling of modular methodology in taking blocks of coded algorithms, proven, tuned, and efficient. LowCode is intended and used extensively by professionals to streamline their efforts and produce clean products faster and more competitively. Professionals with moderate coding skills are able to weave very complex products together quickly using LowCode platforms. LowCode enables them to quilt together these pre-developed modular blocks of logic and significantly reduce the time and cost of developing and proving their applications. And with proven and tested LowCode bundles comes confidence that the overall product is secure and bug-free. So, if LowCode exists, what is NoCode for and why is this important? Will NoCode ever make LowCode obsolete? To answer these questions, please consider this: If you have the skills to write a bit of code and the time to weave together some code, LowCode might be just fine. But if you are the owner or management of an enterprise that has no interest or desire to either learn code writing or hire a development professional, NoCode provides a great new alternative. This isn’t to suggest that every small to medium size business owner will now be creating their own applications, but they could if they wanted to. More importantly, they are now provided with products that they can control and understand, tweak, and manage by themselves. This opens a whole new paradigm: without any need to hire professional code developers on staff or go looking for them when they need small changes done quickly, will they support with their demand the refinement and enhancement of 100% NoCode technologies, ultimately strengthening the actual NoCode tools themselves? A brief look back at the earlier sections of this paper should make the answer to that question obvious. Proven time and time again, the momentum of value and demand for improvement has driven solutions swiftly with incredible results. Many knowledgeable professionals believe the same will occur with NoCode platforms as they gain strength through use and demand. Businesses will realize with NoCode in their toolbox, they can become comfortable and proficient enough to instantly modify their own mobile device applications at any time of day for any purpose without needing to consult with anyone. Complete and instant control and distribution, also with proven and tested confidence that the overall product is secure and bug-free. To summarize, both LowCode and NoCode tools have their purposes and proper uses. While neither may provide all answers for everyone, there is certainly a case to be made for the value of each. For further information on the appropriate use of NoCode for your applications, please feel free to contact ACENji for a consultation. Both technologies are of high value, and both exist today. And both will improve overtime as so many tools naturally have. Well-prepared technicians will always have multiple tools in their toolbox for many specific and varied tasks and always keep their eyes open to new and better tools as they become available. NoCode’s Specific Purposes: There are several specific purposes that can be discussed, but attention should be noted to the primary purpose of any successful entrepreneurial efforts: The Customer Experience. The old saying, “the customer is always right” may hide some vagaries, but the point is clear; a customer’s positive experience will, in return, reward those providing the experience. Studies show that over 40% of customers will pay more for a better experience and almost a third will dump their service providers and never return if they experience even a single bad experience. In the case of NoCode, the customers are the entrepreneurs striving to serve the needs of their customer base. In doing so with that passion to please and improve, they will constantly plan to improve to remain successful. Those who will remain desirable and relevant must have a “domain knowledge” of their industry and a passion for making it advance and improve in the customer’s experience. They know their marketplace well and how to relieve their customer’s pain. They understand the market for materials and labor issues and the latest desirable and challenging trends. Some entrepreneurs may even possess a sound knowledge of software code development, but this is likely rare. More likely, they have a knowledge of what software applications can do and how to acquire development but have not spent their lives learning the intricacies of writing software coding languages. Consider the seasoned entrepreneur with domain knowledge in, say, the “widget industry” who has become likely to depend on software development from professionals in the past. Whether the entrepreneur has in-house development or outsourced, he has had to depend on someone else to bring his visions to reality. Furthermore, the entrepreneur would be paying for those services, one way or another, and waiting for others to do the technical work. Once their commissioned software product is released, past experience tells us that more than 80% of their efforts have failed at least in some way to meet the original expectations. Additionally, up to about 45% of the paid-for functionality developed for them by professionals turns out to be a waste of time and money as these functions are never used. NoCode changes all this. NoCode simplifies and accelerates the development cycle and enables very rapid deployment of not just a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for testing and evaluation but a full production working model. From there, the entrepreneur and his resources can tweak and refine the product instantly with complete control and understanding of the NoCode elemental functions. The frustrating loop of explaining what is needed, waiting, reviewing, evaluating first results, documenting explaining needed changes, correcting, waiting, reviewing, etc. becomes much faster because development becomes a more collaborative experience. In addition, once the product is deployed, it never becomes “off-limits” to needed minor tweaks and changes as uncontrollable business influences or seasonal adjustments factor into the entrepreneur’s day-to-day business life. NoCode empowers the entrepreneur to react swiftly and confidently, amend the working product, and instantly have revised deployment released. This alone makes NoCode a valuable tool and an asset to any entrepreneur focused on maintaining an excellent customer experience. Industries and Enterprises That Will Benefit From NoCode: The possibilities are nearly endless on which industries will benefit, but one clear industry is the software development industry itself. The software industry, with its many skills and successes, has developed NoCode tools in response to an overwhelming demand for its products. By providing these products and services in NoCode, they serve their customers better and thus, win rewards for the customer experience they provide. In addition to the software industry outright, small companies with a very small or non-existent in-house development staff will be able to take control of their application development cycles like never before. And large firms will benefit from the flexibility to enable departmental customization for specific purposes while remaining pure to the entire enterprise without corrupting internal systems. Large firms will be able to empower their staff and lower-level managers to creatively develop solutions with NoCode within their functional departments while staying within the discipline of their overall IT environment. Medium-size firms are the most resistant to adapting NoCode solutions today as they are very well rounded in optimizations but they could also benefit from reduced cycle time and cost and likely pursue applications they once felt were beyond their reach due to budget constraints and priorities. So, in essence, any industry or enterprise (for-profit or non-profit) will gain from the flexibility and localized control that a NoCode platform will provide. Review of Advantages of NoCode Platform Application Development: • Simplifies use for non-code writing “citizen developers” with an intuitive interface • Reduces overall required resources for development, both in-house and external • Enables instant re-deployment for content changes in reaction to business needs • Simplifies and enhances worksite data collection and adjustments to data required • Enhances the user experience and control of the design of their workflow interaction • Reduces the time and cost for modifications by both Pros and Citizen Developers • Enables very swift deployment of MVP with flexibility built-in to refine iteratively • Apps built using pre-verified compliance and security data protocol components • Apps contain only pre-tested and debugged calculation methods for data functions • Apps adaptable to connect with legacy application program interfaces (APIs) • Apps utilize cloud-native storage capability via a multi-path data communication • Apps adaptable to integrate with traditional and blockchain value transactions Case Studies: While it remains difficult to identify by which methods have been used to develop which applications, it is clear that LC/NC has been accelerating in use. In fact, the reality that NoCode development is nearly impossible to differentiate from traditional code-written applications provides a clearly astounding and reflexive point. You can’t tell the difference from the user's perspective. Only those on the development side can tell and they do so by enjoying the many benefits without compromising any of the end-users expectations. A few examples are provided, but any more exists and interestingly, end users have no idea that NoCode is working in the background to improve the prompt updates to their experience yet are completely unaware of what and how that is occurring. 1.) In a Sept.’21 article in Inc.com/technology; “Don't Get Left Behind by the No-Code Wave. It's time to stop teaching yourself how to code - and start building your business”, founder Joe Procopio of TeachingStartup.com provides a clear and strong argument for the value of NoCode use and expansion. “. . . Developers like me have started building projects, products, and entire companies with no-code. Smart business people . . . (with tech aptitude) . . . are running with no-code tools. Start picking up what NoCode is offering today, and you'll be building (applications) tomorrow.” 2.) A product specifically for the Lighting Industry Quote-Logic.com is launching at the end of 2021. This revolutionary app is poised to disrupt the way Lighting Industry Professionals communicate and conduct business with its 100% NoCode mobile app development. Within this revolutionary application, Lighting Industry manufacturers will be able to control their product offerings, pricing, and specifications and distribute timely information updates and changes to Pros in the field for use on job sites consulting and quotations instantly. “30+ years of experience and knowledge in traditional lighting and recent evolution to LED lighting has led us to create this product using the most advanced, NextGen No-Code 2.0 software platform available. I believe we have the most effective software development team on the planet working on our application, specifically for our lighting industry” – Raul Klein, CEO of DSSL 3.) A sales lead tracking application, FollowUpEdge.com was developed using NoCode. FollowUp is a SaaS platform that takes inbound leads through an automated sequence of text messages, emails, and ringless voicemails. FollowUp Edge has helped businesses increase response rates by about 40% on average. "I had the MVP up in three weeks, and we pulled in our first revenue two weeks later", said co-founder Scottie Schneider. 4.) The Lambda School project is disrupting how education may be funded. Lambda School is built around their Income Share Agreements (ISAs) Model that lets students finance their education without upfront secured payment. Students agree to pay back their debt with a modest % of their income post-graduation, but only after securing a job. Lambda School was built using NoCode. They built their MVP, serving the needs of thousands of student clients. They have since integrated other tools as well to grow and scale their platform. "The NoCode movement allows more people to participate in automation and building. There are a lot of tools and products that can be built without any engineering help" says Mitchell Wright, Senior Growth executive at Lambda School. 5.) Princeton University wanted to offer a simple mobile application that would allow sports attendees to order and pay directly from their smartphones. This was especially interesting to many as we adjust to anti-Covid recommendations. In this app, customers are greeted with a simple “welcome” screen and allowed to log in, followed by a “home” screen with a few fundamental tabs for making and paying for selections. Built completely with NoCode, features such as a dynamic menu (on which prices and menu items can be instantly adjusted and deployed) are a real game-changer. Princeton stadium lets visitors pay directly as well, from their cell phones. Their customers benefit from an intuitive experience that allows them to enjoy the game without worrying about waiting in long lines. 6.) A Local Business application, Kuery is a Costa Rican version of Yelp. Kuery allows businesses in Costa Rica to get found and advertise their products and services simply and effectively. Some of the key features of this elegant tool, developed with NoCode technology are: • Geo-location and tracking of businesses • Promotions and business showcases • Advanced search functionality • Simple listing and filtering of product and services Kuery is a completely inspired app based on the Yelp model but is made exclusively to service the local Costa Rican market. It simplifies the user's experience by focusing only on local business owners, giving them an edge against the huge corporation which focuses on broader markets and audiences. There are many more examples of NoCode written applications and many more to come. An interesting point I this is that even with the many diverse examples, most end users are not even aware of a difference. Some real examples of other NoCode applications that exist include: • Job Board and Human Resource Applications • Package and Service Delivery Applications • Business Management and Manufacturing Productivity Monitoring and Improvement • Engineering Remote Data Resources, Task Assignment, Tracking and Data Acquisition Legal Industry Apps: Documenting Forms, Notifications, Evaluations, Consents, Submissions Conclusion: It has become time for all enterprises to accept the reality of technology as the lifeblood of communication and commerce or remain so small and isolated that their efforts are little more than a cottage industry. In as much as there are small enterprises that will not adapt for a variety of good reasons, for example, the little pastry shop in the village or the little old guys and gals who do tool sharpening in their garage or make quilts for the local art fair, even many of these have adapted with some type of presence online. In the abstract, anyone serious about actual growth and commercial development must either adapt or suffer the consequences. The question is not will they adapt, but rather; “How will they be able to adapt without giving away all their resources to do so?”. What would be the point of pouring all profits into the method of making a profit and yielding no extra benefit? Actually, this last question has been the thing holding all small and medium-sized enterprises in that state of balance between adaptation and not, success and failure. Because up until very recently the burden of technological convergence for the early intenders actually ate away much of the extra profitability it generated in large measure, those who did not adapt could survive with a lot of hard work done the “old school” way. As pointed out in a recent WSJ article (1) “It’s time to get rid of the IT department”. In other words, take control of your enterprise’s destiny and technology with the people who know your business. LowCode is an aggressive step in that direction and NoCode even more so. With a truly, 100% NoCode solution, the valuable members of your team can be liberated to create incredible solutions for your enterprise without the need to employ expensive and time-consuming IT specialists. ACENji is just such a NoCode platform that provides the liberating power to you and your team to “Create Solutions, Not an IT Department”. Contact ACENji for a demonstration of how your enterprise can adapt to NoCode technology and liberate your team. Citations: Ivan Assenov; CEO & Founder of ACENji - 100% NoCode Platform – Direct consultations (LinkedIn) Daniel Abebe; April 2020; ‘The-10-most-impressive-startups-built-with-no-code’ Joe Procopio; Founder-TeachingStartUp.com; ‘Don’t get left behind by the NoCode wave’ Stijn van Wonderen; Aug. 2019, ‘The Ultimate Guide to No-Code: Unlocking Your Full Innovation Potential’ Hexaware; Oct. 2021; ‘ Low-code, No-code platforms: A New Approach to Customer Experience’ Flowfinity Engineering; Oct. 2021; ‘Engineering Project Digitization: Current State vs. Future State’ Neota Logic / Transformdata; Oct. 2021; ‘The No-Code approach for the legal industry’ Joe Peppard; It’s Time to Get Rid of the IT Department; Nov 29, 2021, Wall Street Journal (1) Appendix / Abstract LowCode and NoCode have become popularized as many people in the software industry race to get in. We provide this white paper to explain NoCode, and LowCode and differentiate purpose and value. Appendix/Brief History It’s not an exaggeration to say the technology of 2021 would have been science fiction in 1971, yet here it is. Using applications is one thing, but creating them? That’s a more complex question. Appendix / LC/NC; The Difference And How They Work LowCode is characterized by bundling blocks of coded algorithms, proven, tuned, and efficient. So, if LowCode exists what is NoCode and why is it important? Will NoCode ever make LowCode obsolete? We explore these questions and allow you to draw your own valued conclusions. Appendix / NoCode’s Specific Purposes Enterprises that will remain relevant must have a passion for improving the customer’s experience. Some entrepreneurs possess a sound knowledge of software, but more often they have a knowledge of what software apps can do but have not spent their lives learning to write software code languages. Whether an entrepreneur has in-house development or outsourced, he has had to depend on someone else to bring his visions to reality. NoCode simplifies and accelerates the development cycle. NoCode empowers the entrepreneur to react swiftly and confidently with instantly updated deployments. This alone makes NoCode a valuable asset to any entrepreneur focused on an excellent customer experience. Appendix / Enterprises To Benefit From NoCode The possibilities are nearly endless of which industries will benefit, but one clear industry is the software development industry itself. Software developers, with their skills and successes, have developed NoCode technology in response to an overwhelming demand for its products. By providing products and services with NoCode, they better serve their customers and win rewards for their customer’s experience. In essence, any enterprise can gain from the flexibility and control that a NoCode provides. Appendix / NoCode Advantages • Simplifies use for non-code writing “citizen developers” with an intuitive interface • Reduces overall required resources for development, both in-house and external • Enables instant re-deployment for content changes in reaction to business needs • Simplifies and enhances worksite data collection and adjustments to data required • Enhances the user experience and control of the design of their workflow interaction • Reduces the time and cost for modifications by both Pros and Citizen Developers • Enables very swift deployment of MVP with flexibility built-in to refine iteratively • Apps built using pre-verified compliance and security data protocol components • Apps contain only pre-tested and debugged calculation methods for data functions • Apps adaptable to connect with legacy application program interfaces (APIs) • Apps utilize cloud-native storage capability via a multi-path data communication • Apps adaptable to integrate with traditional and blockchain value transactions Appendix / Case Studies It is clear that LC/NC are accelerating in popular use. The reality is that NoCode development is nearly impossible to differentiate from traditional code-written applications provides a clearly astounding and reflexive point. You can’t tell the difference from the user's perspective. Only those on the development side can tell and they do so by enjoying the many benefits without compromising any of the end-users expectations. We have included a few examples of applications publicly known to have been developed using NoCode technologies, yet many more exists.