From Software Underground to Living the Low-Code Dream (Part 2)

Suvajit Gupta, Senior VP of Engineering, Appian

(This is the last installment of our two-part series on low-code development and innovation with Suvajit Gupta (@suvajitgupta), Senior Vice President, Engineering at Appian, a low-code platform company in Reston, VA. Read part 1 here.)

As an aspiring software engineer, Suvajit Gupta dreamed of becoming an architect, writing great code and designing and coding complex software. But he says that he had no plan to get there so he did the only thing he knew how to do—code.

Today, instead of coding and designing software himself, Gupta is is busy leading teams that design the software behind Appian’s low-code development platform. It’s what Gupta calls the magical intersection of what he likes to do and what he’s good at. As a senior Appian executive, he spends much of his time working with company founders and stakeholders to map business strategy to Appian’s product roadmap.

But Gupta hasn’t lost touch with his inner nerd. In fact, he says that he still codes when he can although coding is no longer in his job description which brings us back to the topic of low-code development platforms. (By the way, low-code platforms allow you to turn ideas into applications 20x faster than writing code. Forrester defines them as “Platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with minimum hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.”)

IT organizations are now under enormous pressure to keep up with ever-rising demand for new applications and legacy system integrations and research shows that IT professionals rank low-code development as the number one way to alleviate the pressure on IT. So says a recent survey of IT execs and developers by IDG. Here’s the math:

  • 80% agree that low-code is useful for automation of repetitive development tasks, such as coding forms and business rules
  • 79% agree low-code development is a time-saver  More than two-thirds (68%) agree that low-code is viable for the development of mission-critical applications
  • Nearly 80% believe that using low-code can free up developer time to work on higher-level projects

Last week, Gupta broke down the urgency of turning ideas into software in the age of digital transformation. In this episode, he drops some serious knowledge on how low-code empowers developers to move from coding to business impact at remarkable speed. Hope you enjoy the conversation.

Appian: But rapid application development tools have been around for decades. What’s different about modern low-code, and why is it relevant in the age of emerging technologies like AI and intelligent automation?

Gupta: low-code solves the pressing problem of making software development as agile as business needs it to be. Because of their incredible flexibility, low-code systems can help organizations quickly integrate and leverage the latest advances in emerging technologies such as AI and intelligent automation.

Appian: Speaking of AI, Appian recently announced that it was integrating Google AI into its low-code platform. New integrations with UiPath and Automation Anywhere were also mentioned. From a software development standpoint, what’s the significant of these integrations?

Gupta:

These integrations bring the power of low-code orchestration to AI and the digital workforce of RPA bots. This will make it easier for organizations to augment human labor, unleash a new level of collaboration between humans and bots in the workplace and take digital transformation to the next level.

Appian: The explosion of digital transformation has put tremendous pressure on IT. Many organizations blame rising demand for new applications and tech integrations for causing the most anxiety. What do you make of that argument?

Gupta: Research shows that these concerns are well founded. Here’s the thing. Siloed, off-the-shelf applications work well as point solutions, but they don’t play well with each other. On the other hand, custom development takes too long and that’s a problem considering that the average CIO’s tenure is less than five years which is shorter than the lifespan of many custom coding project.

Appian: Less than five years?

Gupta: That’s right. You can Google it. But the good news is that with the modern low-code platform, it’ll soon take less time to build an application than to argue about building it. The problem is that great ideas can get mired in the inevitable meetings, documents, and politics of a large organization.

 Low-code offers a way to convert ideas to applications so quickly that you can see business impacts faster than ever before. These platforms aren’t just bending the laws of software, they’re helping organizations move from coding to configuration at astonishing speed.

Appian: Which is probably why low-code seems to be catching on with senior IT execs.

Gupta: Think about it. When you need a custom house today, you don’t hire a carpenter to saw down some trees and start a multi-year home building project.  You sit in front of a computer and pick from a set of attractive prefabricated options which allows you to move into your dream home in months. Most business applications aren’t that different but unfortunately custom development starts out by recreating things from scratch, which takes too long and ends up failing to meet expectations.

CIOs now have a better option called low-code development which outperforms slower traditional approaches to custom development.

Appian: Put on your developer hat for this question. Fans call low-code development a productivity multiplier. But some developers see low-code as a threat, something that minimizes the value and creativity of writing code. What do you make of that argument?

Gupta: The low-code movement is happening so developers need to accept that and learn how to leverage their capabilities. I believe that low-code platforms will democratize software development for a far bigger population of people than just software developers.

Fortunately, developers are used to disruption so I’m confident they will figure out how to take advantage of the low-code trend.

Appian: Let’s switch gears and talk about the rise of intelligent automation. As you know, more and more companies are pivoting to digital labor to beat disruption. And companies that do a better job of orchestrating their digital workforce will gain a competitive advantage on those that don’t. How does low-code fit into that narrative?

Gupta: Low-code is squarely in the middle of that story. The truth is, companies that fail to jump on the low-code bandwagon will eat dust.

There are numerous companies in the digital disruption graveyard right now because they didn’t take advantage of digital transformation trends like low-code development.

Appian: Finally, as you look ahead, what are some of the big trends that are on your radar for 2020 and beyond?

Gupta: Cloud Native Architectures—they’re revolutionizing the way software companies build, test, deliver, monitor, and maintain applications. Business software has to be reinvented on these platforms to keep thriving in the age of digital transformation.

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