A “Preach to the Choir” About Low-Code/No-Code and Legacy Application Modernization
This is a “Preach to the Choir” article about low-code/No-code and legacy application modernization with little technical redeeming value.
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How does a company react to changing market conditions and buyer behavior if they’ve got really old legacy software? What will it cost to “transform”? How do we get there and who’s in charge?
Covid-19 brought about the largest disruption of business activity since the great depression but you know that. How organizations reacted to it will keep the faculty at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business busy writing books for many years to come. OK, let’s also mention faculties from the Harvard Business School, the Yale School of Management, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the rest of academe. For the moment we seem to be entering into a post Covid-19 era and academe can’t wait!
In the latest ever-changing world of business, companies must react quickly to changes in the markets and to customer behavior or they will cease to be companies!
Growth of Low-Code
Digital Transformation received a huge boost during the past two years, DevOps (whatever that is) did too. Low-code development grew and is growing at an unprecedented rate as a software development tool. Forrester and Gartner analysts estimate more than half of all enterprise software will be built with low-code technology this year and the year is only half over. Even if that number is inflated, that is an awful lot of apps and applications being created by something that did not even exist 10 years ago
Low-code development has been around for less than a decade and is one of the pillars of Digital Transformation. It was first identified and named by the now retired John Rymer of Forrester around 2014. If you are not aware of Digital Transformation and/or low-code app development and/or dev ops (what am I saying) you should be and google them.
Low-Code a Solution
Low-code development solves lots of problems:
- It exponentially speeds up app development and deployment
- It alleviates the shortage of software developers
- It shrinks technical debt
- In some companies it puts software development into the hands of the business departments and away from IT – always a good thing but when not controlled…
- It creates great user experiences and allows for very fast changes to deployed apps and applications based upon market conditions, changes to customer’ buying behavior and staff requirements. Sometimes called “agility”
- A quicker, less expensive way to legacy application modernization
- Lowers app development and modernization cost
- Contributes to company growth and profit
Consultancies have even adopted low-code development. They were originally anti low-code because they feared they would lose revenue and the belief that low-code is a fad that won’t last forever. They now have accepted low-code development because their clients said and I paraphrase, if you don’t use low-code for development we will find someone that will. If you use low-code we will still pay you because you are delivering more value to us for the same amount of money. It is absolutely amazing what money and technology that actually works can accomplish!
Back to Forrester and Gartner. If half of all enterprise software is built using low-code technology, what about the other half of development? And is that 50% of a companies’ development work is created using low-code or actually 50% of all new apps, oh never mind. The question really boils down to who is not using low-code.
If we look at the history of software development and the competing technologies, we discover that there are some very old technologies that are still in use. Companies still use software written in COBOL, RPG, FORTRAN, BASIC, Autocoder (nah), others. They still use Informix, MultiValue, Toad, DOS (more nah) and other elderly database platforms as their data store. And I will bet that within the vast majority of these companies’ IT departments are still writing application software with “long hand coding” while spending much of their time maintaining the old programs. If they are doing maintenance, they ain’t creating new stuff; they are creating technical debt. The old stuff can’t be easily modified to reflect changing market conditions and customer buying behavior. Besides, their developers know the old stuff, don’t follow market trends and/or tell themselves that low-code is only MBA hype and really doesn’t work as well as advertised!
Yet, it is the new stuff that focuses on the Digital User Experiences that will drive sales and corporate growth.
Companies that rely on legacy software are aware of the decisions they will be forced to make in the near term. It all starts with the understanding that the business world is moving faster than ever and their software must respond to the fluctuations in market conditions, changes to customer buying behavior and staff requirements. If they do nothing or delay their development work the costs could be catastrophic.
Does a company bite the bullet, trash the legacy applications and purchase a new package that offers Digital User Experiences on mobile devices as well as modern presentation layers for the desktop? Many do. They spend lots of money, lots of time and discover that the business logic they spent years developing is not part of their new applications. They become aware that it takes just as long to modify the new applications to meet the uncertainty of today’s business climate as it did to modify the old software!
Yet some of these “dinosaurs” are discovering ways they can quickly react to today’s ever changing business world. They are investigating Digital Transformation and the benefits it can provide including roadmaps for developing apps that will create personalized and customized experiences for customers using their current legacy software's business logic and data.
They are realizing they can begin their modernization journey by introducing Digital User Experiences on mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop devices that focuses on their customers and prospects. A focus that will increase sales and build customer loyalty. They can also create modernity on their old legacy applications at the same time and do it all without hiring new staff.
The way forward is through the use of a low-code development platform that will use their business logic, consume the tons of data and allow for both technical and non-technical staff to build the apps that will keep the company competitive.
It takes company commitment and employee buy-in to create digital mindsets that will grow the business while reacting to market and customer behavioral changes; how is that for marketing schpiel! Some might say a digital transformation is occurring.
Now where is the academe that wants to write books on using the old stuff to build the new stuff!
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