a man and a woman looking through codes on a computer screen

Hand coding can bog down developers. A low code platform can help make your developers more productive. Source: ShutterStock

Is low-code a panacea for futile digital transformation efforts?

IN recent years, digital transformation has become the buzzword in Asia’s technology sector.

According to research firm IDC, the Asia Pacific region is expected to spend US$412 billion on digital transformation technologies such as IT services and applications in 2018.

Companies want to leverage technology to streamline business processes, improve productivity and boost their P/L (profit or loss) margins.

However, while enterprises across Asia recognize the importance of digital transformation in enhancing operations and keeping costs down, many remain caught in the struggle to realize their digital transformation ambitions.

A Gartner survey of Asia Pacific CEOs actually revealed that enterprises in Asia held fewer transformative views around digital business than their global counterparts and are not as aggressive in advancing their digital business capabilities as their global counterparts.

This begs the question: Why are Asia Pacific companies finding digital transformation so difficult and is there a remedy?

Shifting from an analog approach to a digital-first environment

A recent Gartner report found that a mere 20 percent of CEOs from the Asia Pacific described their company’s business posture as “digital first” or “digital to the core”.

This leaves plenty of room and potential for companies to advance a digital transformation agenda in their organizations.

However, such bold statements often mask the fact that an organization is still operating in an analog mindset.

The failure to advance a company’s application development processes to cope with modern-day expectations, timeframes, and innovation demanded by the digital era is putting IT departments through their paces.

An incessant demand for new applications means that IT departments are down to their bare bones.

They are amassing backlogs that they cannot keep up with, leading to lost business opportunities.

It seems that no matter how fast IT teams work, they are not quick enough to meet customers’ demands.

A widespread shortage of skilled developers, the challenge of integrating modern systems with legacy ones, and silos between business and development teams that hinder communication are just some of the roadblocks.

The fact is that the appetite for digital transformation is simply not matching the capacity of IT departments to deliver it.

The rise of the digital factory

Every shift in economic development has pushed us to adopt new ways of thinking and working.

In the 18th century, machines in factories took over manual processes, resulting in significant leaps in productivity and quality that eventually catalyzed global development.

Three centuries later, we are now witnessing the fourth industrial revolution, where the factory has become digital.

A digital factory is more capable of delivering high-quality finished applications. Its innate structure answers the key challenges that have been holding back digital transformation initiatives.

A digital factory operates on agile principles and makes use of low-code technology, champions a cross-functional team structure, and allows for automated testing to respond to the biggest roadblock: speed of delivery.

A successful low-code digital factory can deliver multiple apps concurrently in short time frames, allowing businesses to evolve at the speed of the market.

Teamwork makes the low-code factory work

The lifeblood of a low-code digital factory is its team.

The team consists of specialists from various departments.

Business users, product owners, technology leads, and developers work together, thereby eliminating communication issues that can plague digital transformation initiatives.

The team moves applications from the ideation stage to the swift development of a viable prototype.

Presentation of the prototype to stakeholders and the incorporation of feedback follows shortly.

After that, it’s on to full development and testing, delivery to the end user, and adoption support and monitoring.

This iterative process allows for continual feedback, revisions, and direction changes as the project requires.

This has definitely come a long way from previous resource-intensive development processes, which created a risk-averse environment where fear of using finite resources on experimentation stifled innovation.

Operating a low-code digital factory helps businesses engage in a test-and-learn strategy without worrying about wasting effort and resources if priorities are altered.

Out with “old” code, in with low-code

Instead of smothering innovation, operating a low-code digital factory unleashes creativity in developers because they are released from the burden of hand-coding and have more time.

It also overcomes the common challenge of varying skills in a team; whether developers are front-end, back-end, or integration specialists, they can all become full-stack developers by mastering the single visual drag-and-drop model of low-code platforms.

This also relaxes hiring requirements in a market where skilled talent is scarce, making junior developers productive more quickly and widening the pool of developer talent among which organizations can search.

A low-code digital factory can successfully deliver robust applications at a rate that significantly outpaces traditional development processes.

As low-code usage increases throughout an organization, the digital factory becomes a center of excellence, delivering greater user satisfaction that can lead to increased demand for services.

Ultimately, the organization transforms into a fully digital enterprise equipped to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and competitive pressures.

With the speed and innovation that low-code digital factories are already achieving, they are well-positioned to be the panacea that businesses need to realize their digital transformation ambitions.


Contributed by subject matter expert Mark Weaser, Vice President, APAC, OutSystems