Are no-code/low-code data management platforms right for SMBs?

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As businesses seek ways to create new efficiencies, capture new market opportunities before competitors do, improve employee productivity and engage customers using technology, quickly – digital transformation is increasingly reshaping the way we get work done.

Picking up the pace of digitization isn’t just about doing more digital projects, it’s about how the business uses technology to change how it does things and adapts to the needs of a world hungry for enhanced experiences, data insights and greater agility. Netflix is the flagship example of digital transformation at work, evolving in a short few years from a DVD rental company to a global internet TV powerhouse that left archrival Blockbuster in the dust.

But it’s not just the enterprise that has tuned into the digital revolution. A study by analyst firm, SMB Group, reveals that three-quarters of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) agree that digital technology is impacting them and 48 percent are engaging in activities that will help them adapt and transform their business for a digital future.

But even as the intent is there, the study also reveals that as their digital transformation plans take shape, SMBs are concerned about funding and a lack of adequate IT resources. Oftentimes, these challenges see them falling into capability and affordability gaps that hinder their ability to reap the benefits of digital transformation in the way their enterprise cousins are.

Overcoming the Challenges of Digital Transformation

Many products are helping companies move into the digital future, but a key driving force in the journey towards digital transformation is the no-code/low-code platform option. These platforms can simplify and accelerate application development, leading to reduced costs and lower risks. They also enable businesses, from the SMB to the enterprise, to make strategic shifts in how they leverage technology to address ever-changing customer demands.

It can start with a single application and soon after, numerous apps follow, and thus begins the journey to company-wide digital transformation. However, for industries lagging in technology adoption, particularly SMBs, the mere mention of coding (even if it’s “no-code”) much less digital transformation, will send businesses running in the opposite direction.

It doesn’t have to be scary though. Cloud-based no-code platforms, in particular, empower non-technical business users to build a range of simple business applications to make tasks more manageable.

What are No-Code/Low-Code Platforms?

Although bucketed together, no-code and low-code platforms differ in their capabilities.

No-code platforms are designed to provide businesses who lack IT or program development resources with out-of-the-box tools that allow them to quickly, simply, and intuitively create apps without the need for IT intervention – closing the capability gap to digital transformation.

No-code platforms are characterized by web-based portals, WYSIWYG editors, and intuitive “app builder” tools that let you easily create and edit apps that revolutionize the way you work. In essence the no-code approach gives organizations an out-of-the-box environment where “citizen developers” can develop, deploy, scale and manage their apps, all from a single place.

Much of this is made possible by cloud computing. Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions have driven down the cost of technology making tools, such as “citizen developer” no-code platforms much more accessible to SMBs than they were in the past.

Powered by this cloud services approach, no-code platforms bundle all the components needed to develop apps (business logic, security, authentication, APIs, microservices, etc.), into the platform. The result is a simplified UI/UX that further lowers the capability gap so that anyone can create an app without IT skills. Speed to deployment is another big win that the cloud enables.

Unlike bespoke solutions that can take months to customize and integrate, cloud-based no-code platforms can be deployed in your organization in one day, without IT help, and users can be building apps 24 hours later.

How do low-code platforms differ? Unlike zero-code platforms, low-code options do require some program development skills and are aimed at developers who are looking for a fast way to roll-out apps to meet business demands or free-up time to work on more important work.

Customization Minus the Programming Headaches

A common misperception about no-code platforms is that they have minimal functionality and that additional coding is required to achieve it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Customization has now emerged as a hallmark of no-code environments. Easy-to-use drag-and-drop interfaces let you fashion and tailor your apps in minutes, no programming required. For those who prefer a tried and tested approach, robust tools give users the flexibility to take advantage of pre-built templates for even faster deployment.

Cloud-based no-code platforms afford many benefits, but to truly get ahead of the game, organizations are increasingly looking to no-code platforms that are both architected for the cloud and designed for mobile. With apps increasingly being consumed across multiple devices, a mobile-ready platform is key. This means that tools such as GPS tracking, image capture, signature capture, barcode scanning, and mobile payment integration, can be easily added to your app through the drag-and-drop capability – giving you a fast-track path to mobile success.

In conclusion, low-code platforms may have kickstarted the “citizen developer” revolution, but the more recent evolution of no-code platforms are truly empowering organizations to modernize their business. Closing the capability, affordability, and even utility gaps that have held SMBs back from digital transformation success, no-code platforms provide a simple, effortless way to deploy apps and transformative workflows at a fraction of the cost of bespoke solutions.

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