Low-code and no-code solutions are increasingly gaining traction in the face of severe and ongoing skills shortages in the tech sector - and they’re also changing how children are taught to code.
“We use our own low-code platform to build and manage virtual agents for large companies,” says Ryan Falkenberg, co-CEO of CLEVVA. “These digital experts resolve customer queries, issues and complaints via multiple digital channels, without the need for humans to be involved. And what is truly amazing is that we do this using many people who did not study IT or coding.”
“Low-code technology makes this possible,” he says. “These powerful platforms not only make authoring easy, but they also offer pre-built templates and tools that speed up build and deployment times. Plus, they make ongoing maintenance simple.”
“We see low-code platforms like ours democratising the workplace. They allow anyone who has a vision to realise their dreams.”
Examples of low- and no-code platforms include Coda (a low-code document that brings words, data and teams together), Notion (a no-code project management and note-taking software platform), Zapier (a no-code workflow automation product), Webflow (a no-code website builder and content management system), Appsheet (Google’s no-code app development platform), and Airtable (a no-code embedded data base and cloud collaboration service).
Low-code platforms offer a number of advantages, including a significantly reduced need for expert programming skills, faster time from concept through to going live in a production environment, and ease of use. As a result, companies can, for instance, offer their customers a one-touch customer service experience in months, without a large coding investment.
It comes as no surprise then that KPMG views low-code platforms as “the unifying fabric of digital enterprises” and potentially “the missing link in today’s digital-first, digital-now environment - and the key to accelerating enterprise modernisation, agility, and efficiency”.
But low-code solutions are also useful in another arena that is top of mind for many South Africans: helping children to come to grips with their future in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Low-code for the future of learning and work
The global low-code platform market was valued at almost US$13 billion in 2020 and revenue is forecast to reach approximately US$65 billion US dollars in 2027.
“The market is projected to grow with a CAGR of 26.1% over this period, and we need to get kids ready to actively participate in that economy. That’s why our projects expose Gen Zers to the technology and skills required to thrive in the digital economy and 4IR,” notes founder of edtech start-up and e-learning platform Mindjoy Gabi Immelman.
Mindjoy unlocks the power of learning to code on platforms like Replit, a browser-based development environment that removes the barriers to getting started with code because it works even on a mobile phone.
“Replit itself is definitely not no-code - you can literally start up a code project in any programming language within seconds. It makes coding very simple. But in stricter terms of ‘low-code’ we use platforms such as Coda to build our back-office tooling, and that enables running affordable and quick experiments when building minimal viable products (MVPs),” Immelman says.
“Building MVPs can be daunting and expensive, but low-code tools offer people the opportunity to patch platforms together to build their own products,” Immelman says. “There are tons of amazing resources out there - like Makerpad - that help you learn how to wield these tools. As more aspects of work go digital, the low-code movement serves as a great stepping stone into building and prototyping in a cost-effective way - and fast!”
New thought processes
The new way of thinking about building products, and about coding itself, has knock-on effects on the coders, too.
Falkenberg points out that Forrester Research believes that low-code development has, in turn, given rise to a new type of professional coder. Instead of focusing on finding a technical solution, this coder is primarily interested in solving business problems. This new type of professional coder tends to wear many hats to get the job done, and views “changing our business model” - the ultimate goal of digital transformation - as a high or critical priority for their company.