Part 3: Eight Capabilities to Look for in Your Low-Code Platform | Appian

Part 3: Eight Capabilities to Look for in Your Low-Code Platform

In my previous blog posts, I tried to explain low-code and its ability to drive digital transformation. I also provided a viewpoint on the mindset that organizations should adopt to get the most out of a low-code platform. In this blog, I want to write about the key capabilities that a low-code platform should possess to drive sustainable digital transformation.

#1 Supercharge your organization’s Agile transformation

Organizations are increasingly adopting an agile mindset and embracing methodologies like Scrum or Kanban to rapidly deliver new products and services. A low-code platform should supercharge this transition by providing capabilities that help organizations become more efficient at Agile. You should look for capabilities in the low-code platform that will help you get better at all of the 12 principles behind the agile manifesto. While most low-code platforms will help you get better at agile there are a few areas where most products fall short, so pay closer attention to these.

  • Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Business people and developers must work together.

#2 Eliminate application silos

Data is everywhere, and yet there are no insights… millions of dollars are spent on software yet there isn’t a holistic view of the business or a 360 view of customers. The reason is simple, organizations evolve, build new applications to serve business needs, mergers happen, acquisitions take place, and all these activities create a complex mesh of applications within organizations. These applications are typically not integrated with one another resulting in a fragmented or siloed view of business.

A low-code platform should enable you to eliminate application silos. Every application you create should make your business more unified….and just to be clear, I am not talking about a monolithic system that requires infinite work upfront…we all know how that story ends. Rather, I am talking about applications that are built in a matter of days or weeks but in a way that every application makes your business more connected. In other words, you are eliminating one silo at a time! Unfortunately, most low-code platforms today exacerbate the problem of disconnected applications and every application created becomes yet another disconnected silo.

#3 Support mission-critical enterprise applications

A low-code platform should enable you to easily build even the most complex and demanding enterprise applications that require highest levels of security, scalability, and reliability. Following is a list that most enterprise-grade applications generally require:

  • Security and Compliance – Robust platform security and certification such as SOC2 /SOC3 / SSAE 16 Type II, FISMA Moderate, PCI-DSS, FedRamp, HIPAA, etc.
  • Reliability – Guaranteed uptime SLAs, high availability commitment, Published Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives
  • Customer References – Track record of successful mission-critical production applications
  • Functional Breadth – Product capabilities and maturity to address enterprise needs
  • Lifecycle Management – Integrated test, performance, security, and impact analysis
  • Integration – Robust integration capabilities to work within other enterprise technologies
  • Extensibility and customizations – Ability to extend and customize platform functionality

#4 Support decentralized development and business self-service

Business wants to move fast but IT is too slow to respond…this has been the story for years and it is high time to change it. A low-code platform should solve this problem by not only making it faster for the IT teams to deliver applications but also enable business users to self-serve. Centralized IT should be able to create infrastructure and best practices that empower business to self-serve in a decentralized, yet governed way.

Most low-code platforms are only suitable for developers. This does not help…business users can significantly contribute towards digital transformation and low-code platforms should empower them to do so. The organizations that are able to improve and amplify collaboration between business and IT will innovate faster and outpace the ones who don’t.

#5 Build it fast!… AND… build it right!

Digital transformation is all about agility—quickly reacting to market and customer needs. As such, a low-code platform should make it significantly faster to introduce new products and services to the market. Applications should be built in a matter of days or weeks…at least 10X faster than traditional custom coding approach. Simpler applications should be built in minutes.

It’s equally important that the application built using a low-code platform adhere to best-practices and minimizes the chances of creating technical debt and unnecessary maintenance overheads. Here are a few questions that you may want to answer to make sure that the low-code platform is helping you build the applications in the right way.

  • Are application built around a key business dimension like customers, employees, products, etc.?
  • Are new applications making the key business dimensions more insightful?
  • Is the look-and-feel and user experience consistent across all applications?
  • Are new applications seamlessly integrated with other applications built using the low-code platform?

#6 Future-proof your applications

Today Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hottest technology trends and tomorrow there will be something else…today material design is hot among design circles and tomorrow there will be something else. A low-code platform should future-proof your applications and ensure that they are cutting-edge regardless of how quickly the technology landscape is changing. A simple product upgrade should make all your applications smarter, better looking, better performant, and accessible from the latest devices. That’s the power a low-code platform must offer.

Some low-code platforms require you to modify each application separately and republish them if want to make any changes like modifying the look-and-feel or making performance optimizations. This is exactly what you should stay miles away from. What if you have 100 applications? It will be a pain to modify and republish each application.

#7 Make your organization more collaborative and data-driven

A low-code platform should provide built-in capabilities and best practices so that every application you create should make your employees smarter, more data-driven, and more collaborative. This may sound obscure and theoretical so let me try to explain this using an example.

Consider a software company where the product management team uses an application that lets them record their interactions with customers. The same company may have other customer touch points like support, sales, marketing, etc. and each team has applications to record their respective interactions with the customer. Wouldn’t it be incredibly valuable if all this information associated with customer interactions is centralized and easily accessible to everyone? Will it make the company more customer-aware? Will it drive better cross-functional collaboration?

There are incredible amounts of information and insights inside a company. A low-code platform should help you collect and organize this information around key business dimensions like customers, products, employees, etc. It should simplify cross team collaboration and provide centralized data-driven insights on this information.

#8 Instant Mobile

Enterprise mobility should just happen as a by-product of app design. Every application built should be instantaneously mobile, saving developers time and effort. Plus, applications should not just be available through mobile, they should be optimized for mobile without any additional effort—A fully native experience, so users get the best experience and interactivity—as they expect—on any device.

Most organizations spend a significant amount of time and resources on just keeping the lights on…and are often left with little or no time to innovate. As such, it is important to look for a platform that minimizes the ongoing development and maintenance efforts for building and deploying applications across multiple interfaces and mobile devices.

I hope that my blog posts provided you with relevant information about low-code platforms and digital transformation. Please visit our website to get more details about low-code development, or check out some amazing transformation stories that our customers narrate.

Prittam Bagani
Director, Products

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