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Build vs Buy – How low-code is changing the SME game

Article provided by JustSolve

In the world of software development, low-code is suddenly on everyone’s lips. The reasons are obvious. Low-code promises SMEs something that was out of their grasp (and budget) for a long time. Described as “Citizen Development”, low-code is attractive because, as the name says, it implies that ordinary citizens can now build and code applications, software and websites. And even though that might still be a bit of a stretch, the reality is that low-code, in the right hands, is a force to be reckoned with.

So what exactly is low-code? 

In a nutshell, it’s a more visual approach to coding, making use of drag-and-drop components. It is literally 5 times faster than traditional coding, cutting out costs and time. With the added benefit of quickly getting to a workable model that can be tested and readjusted accordingly. Basically designing on the fly, with changes made in a jiffy and updated according to your exact specifications without going through the laborious process associated with traditional coding.

According to a recent study, 65% of all apps will be designed in low-code by 2024. What that means for small to medium enterprises is that there is suddenly an alternative to buying software that, for the most part, does almost “exactly” what your company needs, with a lot of wastage in features, that you pay for. The reason being that most of the big software companies design vanilla software in a one-size-fits-all mould.

This becomes a problem when your area of expertise is in a niche market. And it remains a problem even if it isn’t. Because no two companies are the same. Especially in today’s rush towards digital transformation. Things change, all the time. From policies to procedures to new benefits, processes, data management and updated security measures.

What is important today is agile management. The ability to change quickly and adjust to any new challenges that suddenly needs attention. Which is very difficult to do when you’ve bought into a baked-in solution, where customisation is cumbersome at most, if not impossible.

The other side of this coin is that most companies have different needs for different departments, and the software bought for one often doesn’t talk to the software bought for the other one. In other words, there is no integration between the systems, and consequently, the departments.

What ensues is a comedy of errors where data is copy-pasted between systems and the real resource of time itself is wasted, going back and forth between separate screens, systems and programs, trying to make sense of the jumble of non-conformant data. This is where low-code comes in.

Because bespoke software is the new black. Why struggle with a system not optimised for your unique business when you can now build software for the same price? Not only will you be able to design a back-end on par with what your front-end promises, but you will see the difference in the customisation – through the way your entire system maximises your different departments and in turn, your customer experience.

At the end of the day, this is why you are doing it. To gain customers, to provide a service and experience that can adapt to any circumstance. And in doing so, being able to keep up with whatever technological advances are made going forward.

Getting back to the Citizen Development claim – as low-code keeps on developing and no-code or even AI-code are becoming more commonplace, the reality is that without UI and UX knowledge, only the most simple of applications and software can be built without any formal training.

To truly build a robust system that can compete with the best in the world, you would still need to outsource it. Most of the companies specialising in low-code today do so through well-established low-code platforms, enabling them to build at the speed of buying.

Some of the top platforms in the market, at the moment, are OutSystems, Sybrin Nitro and Microsoft Power Platform. Each with its own pros and cons when it comes to capability, integration and flexibility.

You can compare them here:

https://nitro.sybrin.com/
https://www.outsystems.com/evaluation-guide/why-outsystems/
https://powerplatform.microsoft.com/en-ie/

In summary, those who still advocate buying software off the shelf should investigate low-code development as an alternative. Especially if you need to stay on top of an agile industry where building a better mousetrap could be the difference between surviving and thriving, giving you that much-needed edge over the competition. To grow your business, digital transformation is key, with low-code fitting many locks.

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