Low/No-code technology can be a key asset in a company’s digital transformation journey. It can speed up the development and delivery of applications and free developers from mundane programming activities.
We also know this as Citizen Development, because the technologies give problem-solving capabilities to non-IT professionals in the business. It means they can build and adapt applications to suit them, with little or no traditional knowledge of programming languages.
ServiceNow has always been a great application development platform. In its earlier versions you had to know your way around code and markup languages (remember Jelly!?), but today the ServiceNow platform is chock-full of features which enable Business Users to implement the functionality Citizen Developers need, without taking up resources from the over-stretched IT departments.
This apparent benefit can however cause problems for the IT team of course. It can mean companies lose track of what their employees are building. Problems arise when low/no-code applications and workflows are added with no or poor quality control processes. This can lead to high maintenance costs as each citizen developer will follow platform best practices to varying degrees. A lack of control can also lead to security issues and potentially breaches as security teams have low visibility on what is being developed where.
So how can IT departments support citizen developers and keep track of the applications they develop? We don’t want to drive users off the platform by making it difficult to adapt it, but there are clearly risks involved in giving everyone the keys to the car. As a ServiceNow administrator the last thing you would want to do is hand out admin user credentials to anyone who came asking for them!
Here are some areas to consider, some risks to be managed and avoided, before you bring in low/no-code technology:
-How do we stop application sprawl; the same app being built by different business units.
-Can we monitor privacy issues?
-How are the code reviews and security checks etc. going to be done?
-Is the company duplicating data and can we be assured of its quality?
-Can the process be automated with DevOps tools so the benefits of the low-code no-code adoption don’t become a bigger problem?
-What happens if a Citizen Developer leaves the company? Who ultimately is responsible for the project or the application?
In its recently updated report Gartner details how BP brought in citizen development to relieve business demand, (Platform-Enabled Citizen Development (BP)). Of course, this is an organisation with high levels of digital skills, so they developed a range of digital platforms; from no-code to highly specialised platforms for geoscientists. Gartner explains that to mitigate risk BP, ‘automated security testing, component scanning and licensing and release automation’.
This has led to ‘a marked increase in the number of applications built by citizen developers’ at BP. About a third of applications on just one of its platforms. They also found that ‘the percentage of business teams with at least one business-led development project in flight has increased from 50% to 80%’.
In the future we see low/no-code becoming a standard practice for fast application development. Forrester expects the top growth areas to be business process applications, web and mobile front ends and consumer-facing apps. It could also be useful in areas like reengineering technology stacks.
Both Gartner and Forrester predict industry growth. Gartner reports the industry is worth $13.8 billion in 2021 and expects +20% year-on-year. Over at Forrester they predict by the end of 2021 up to 75% of firms could be using a low-code platform (rising from about half today).
At Quality Clouds we expect to see growth in demand for effective citizen development platforms. It’s an area where large organisations will need to be strategic to address many of the potential risks associated with it. We’re here to help companies embrace the Citizen Developer journey with no risk with our leading SaaS Code and Configuration Analysis platform. We’re looking forward to a future not just of low-code and no-code, but quality code.