August 25, 2020
No-code development platform (NCDPs) allows programmers and non-programmers to create application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional computer programming. No-code development platforms are closely related to low-code development platforms as both are designed to expedite the application development process.
Is there a no-code revolution coming?
More and more software applications like Salesforce, Pipedrive, Trello, Airtable, and others have built platforms based on no-code principals. Some of these apps focus on specific functions like sales teams. Others deliver more general collaboration. Whatever the application, no-code software strategies include four areas of focus:
Provide drag and drop “widgets” or other elements that can be visually organized to build apps or configure business processes
Create simple “filters” and data queries to empower instant customization
Use APIs to easily integrate data from various web services or other applications
Broaden appeal to non-technical users versus targeting traditional developers
The no-code revolution mirrors the computing and software environment prior to Mac OS and Windows. Before GUI interfaces transformed personal computing, mainstream use of computers was limited to techies unafraid of navigating DOS prompts and other programming languages. Mac OS and Windows leveled the playing field, allowing anyone to quickly learn, use and adapt software applications to fit their unique needs. We’re at the same place in time today when it comes to no-code software. “Developing” apps and truly customizing software applications are limited to the techies.
But things are about to change.
Just like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services dominate the cloud computing infrastructure market, in the future, no-code infrastructure platforms will shift the balance of power away from custom development to no-code application and business models. Zapier, for example, enables data sharing and “handshakes” across dozens of applications. GitHub provides “code snippets” that deliver out of the box functionality for hundreds of topics for instant use in developing applications. The biggest no-code opportunities include both the overall infrastructure to power no-code development and next generation applications for just about every industry vertical.
No-code market adoption
Like any transformation, the adoption of no-code software and approaches won’t occur overnight. But there are significant forces driving the trend, which make it a topic to be understood and explored by both developers and users alike.
According to Salesforce, 52% of IT departments say that IT-related skill gaps are a big problem for their organization. That’s why 74% of the IT leaders who run these departments say they plan to push application development into the business units they serve. The problem is that this approach isn’t solving the root cause of the issue — that talented developers are tough to find and expensive to pay.
The talent and skill gaps that exist are already creating the need to simplify development so customized solutions can be created within resource-strapped IT departments and business units alike. In addition, the tension between corporate IT and business unit autonomy has already fueled the rise of applications like Zoom where monthly subscription models allow individual teams to bypass the IT bureaucracy.
While these realities will impact enterprise software, the bigger disruption — and opportunity — resides within the small to medium business markets. Small and medium sized businesses represent about 99% of the US market and many of these organizations don’t possess the people and resources required for custom development — or even just customization — of traditional software applications. No-code platforms represent an entirely new way to build and deploy custom solutions that would otherwise be unattainable to the masses.
Like any disruptive innovation, one of the biggest barriers to no-code adoption will be developers themselves. Like other industries where automation has disrupted business models, work processes and jobs, no-code development may do the very same thing to many of today’s highly skilled coders.
We know that software has already “eaten” the world. As we’ve seen with other industry transformations, after the train leaves the station, it’s just a matter of time before we experience massive disruption. Jump on before it’s too late.
How can it help my business?
You will no doubt get drawn in by the glossy marketing materials, demos, webinars and case studies. They drive home the main benefits of a CRM and showcase key fetures:
- Maintain a centralised repository of all of your customers
- Manage all communication and interactions with customers
- Provides a multi channel experience (Phone, Web Chat, Email, Social Media)
- Real time Reporting and Analytics
- Greater customer and staff satisfaction
- Improved time to market
- Provides tools to support automation
- Regular updates and new features
- And much more...
But, before you can even begin to start thinking abour realising any of these you need to define your requirements and criteria for success. With these clearly articulated, your project sponsor signed up and everyone talking the same language you can start exploring your options.
Buy an Off the shelf CRM
This is buying pre-built software from a supplier then configuring and customising it to support your business needs. This is a key point - if you choose an off the shelf platform, you need to keep customisation to a minimum. The more you customise the more pain that generally causes further down the road in terms of updates, changing to another product, onboarding new team members etc.
It's a brave decision, if you find yourself starting on that journey start to think of the skills required, the project management involved, the total cost of ownership, the time required to build and deploy, the list goes on! But who is not to say you don't end up building something so good it could be resold and compete on that gartner quadrant.
What about the power?
I started writing this blog fresh off the back of consulting with a small finance company who were looking at using a CRM to support their growing customer base. During that engagement I often referred to the "power of the CRM" and how they should look to utilise the out of the box features where possible - lets not reinvent the wheel. This often lead to dicsussions on changing business process but only where that benefited the company, and was generally best practice in the industry.
The true power today comes from the flexibility of CRM platforms. Vendors have invested huge amounts of money in these systems - to truley unleash the power you have to maximise the features against your investment. You might have selected a CRM which meets all your requirements but what else does it offer? Are there other features you get from your procurement and can they improve the customer experience.
One of the most powerful elements of any platform, especially with the no-code/low code features offered, is that business people now find themseleves with great power and with that comes responsibility. Business users with minimal training can create complex line of business applications without the help of dedicated IT professionals - this initially seems like a really big benefit but can quickly become a real problem.
To make sure you realise the full power of a CRM, you need to ensure a robust governance structure is in place to ensure you have control in how your platform develops. Weave into that princples such as configuration over customisation, monitor usage and app creation, ensure users have the correct skills and create a development community around your platform to support and nurture ideas.
Would you like to learn more about how a CRM could work for your business? Do you need help gathering requirements or with product selection stage? Get in touch with the team and we will be happy to chat through ideas with you.