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Why low-code RAD is taking flight: here’s what you should know

Mar 23, 2020

“There’s an app for that.” We’ve been spoiled for years now, with solutions for almost anything available in our pockets at all times. At work, however, things are often more complicated. No wonder low-code rapid application development (RAD) is expected to grow significantly in 2020. But what is it exactly, and what’s the best way to approach it? Take a deep dive into RAD with our expert Matts Devriendt.

“Low-code RAD platforms allow business users with little to no coding skills to make their own applications, governed by the IT department,” explains Matts. “They are the result of careful analysis of countless applications, which has resulted in an ever-growing list of standardized building blocks. An intuitive, visual user interface makes it possible to combine and connect building blocks via drag and drop. Only when you need extra customization is programming knowledge required.”

The low-code boom

These platforms are becoming increasingly popular for various reasons:

  • Business users can express their ideas in applications they can start building themselves. They no longer depend on the – often very busy – IT department to create tools that make their work easier or more efficient today. 
  • Low-code applications help enterprises ‘keep the core clean’. Instead of customizing the core ERP, users can build applications around it.
  • Citizen development makes businesses more agile and allows them to adapt quickly to a continuously evolving market and rising customer expectations. At the same time, it speeds up the time to market of new applications, since development is quicker and requires fewer people. Where traditional development requires front, middle and back-end developers, a designer and often a project manager, low-code RAD can sometimes be handled by one person, with a little help from IT.
  • It relieves some of the workload of the IT department, which often has a hard time keeping up with all its responsibilities, from ensuring the core ERP is running smoothly to supporting legacy applications.  

 

Less obviously, low-code RAD actually brings IT and business closer together. Since business users are now actively involved in application development, they have clearer ideas of what IT actually entails. Moreover, there’s more buy-in for new applications, since the ideas are directly implemented and executed by the business personnel themselves.


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The changing role of IT

Will low-code RAD make the IT department obsolete? “Not a chance,” says Matts. “Paradoxically, the rise of business-driven rapid application development makes the IT department much more visible. It is regarded more as a sparring partner than a bottleneck, as was often the case in earlier times. “For example, business users still need help from IT for successful integrations with other systems, more complex technical questions, performance optimization, security validation and application governance.”

According to Matts, one of the most common mistakes for businesses experimenting with low-code RAD is the idea that they don’t need IT anymore. “Much to the contrary,” he adds. “In an ideal scenario, IT will take a more proactive and governance-focused role. It’s paramount for the department to keep track of the big picture. This improved symbiosis between IT and business offers a lot of opportunities for co-innovation.”

What will the future bring?

“Low-code RAD platforms will continue to expand their possibilities,” says Matts. “This will result in a sort of ‘democratization’ of technology: small companies will have access to the same cutting-edge technologies that are available to Fortune 500 companies. However, one of the main challenges for businesses will be deciding which applications they can build with a low-code platform, and which they are better off customizing. Or how they can best leverage the potential of low-code to optimize collaboration between business and IT. That’s where an experienced partner like delaware can offer valuable guidance: we’ve done plenty of projects which require both, so we know what we’re talking about.”

Is low-code RAD something your business could benefit from? Contact us to learn how low-code best practices can be applied in your organization, or get started immediately with our 5-day program for building a fully-functional business application.

Rapid Application Development as your ticket to swift digitization