.......and how to mitigate risk when they finally do
Low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms are disruptive to many facets of a business: from altering how applications are developed, to assisting start-ups in reaching the market faster, to altering the business model so that architects and developers require little to no training to get started and add value to the platform from a commercial standpoint.
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Our previous blog discussed the emergence of low-code as a solution to software obsolescence. We shared how traditional software engineering methods can no longer keep up with the required speed of innovation or the changing realities of work due to the rapid digital revolution.
In this blog, we will focus on LCNC integration platforms adoption. How to mitigate risks by following best practices, since according to Gartner’s 2022 Hype Cycle for Cloud Platform Services, low-code application platforms will reach the plateau of productivity in less than two years. The Plateau of Productivity marks the point where the practical advantages of technologies are proven and widely recognised. In other words, a growing number of businesses are at ease with the lower levels of risk, and the adoption process enters its rapid development phase.
As LCNC platforms continue to gain track, among Gartner’s predictions was that their revenue market was expected to reach $7.4 billion in 2022, a growth of 28.4% compared to the previous year. But as much as LCNC platforms pose many advantages by offering organisations a chance to speed up digital transformation, there is still some hesitation in their adoption.
For the scope of this article, let’s focus on LCNC integration platforms. To start with, we have summed up some of the reasons why organisations are holding back from adopting LCNC integration platforms:
- Resistance to change: Employees and developers may be especially resistant to adopting new technology that they feel can replace their labour.
- Technical Skills: Even though LCNC platforms do not require extensive coding skills, they are still somewhat new and require analytical thinking; hence, the lack of technical skills among employees to use low-code platforms could hinder them.
- Integration with existing systems: Low-code platforms may not have out-of-box tools to integrate seamlessly with existing systems, causing data migration issues and requiring specialised skills for such integrations.
- Security concerns: Companies may have concerns about their data security in a low-code environment. How secure are they? Integration of secure code analysis into development workflows is a significant barrier. While creating new applications, the development tools offer static security code analysis reports based on the supplied source code.
- Cost: Low-code platforms may have upfront costs and ongoing expenses to be factored in. For example, once an LCNC platform has been selected, companies are basically ‘stuck’ with it and will not easily migrate to another if such a platform raises its prices. Or the fact that LCNC platforms are not using the same base architecture poses another risk. The depictions produced in one LCNC platform are typically not usable in another. Lastly, when a vendor stops supporting a platform, this poses a major threat to investment protection and may result in dead ends.
- Customization limitations: Low-code platforms may have limitations regarding customisation options. At least at the start and as they further get developed.
- Scalability: Companies may struggle to scale their low-code solutions as their needs grow, a big risk that companies must consider.
Mitigations: best practices
A Harvard Business Review article titled ‘How No-Code Platforms Can Bring AI to Small and Midsize Businesses’ describes the risk of implementing an LCNC on a broad level without seeing if it fits the organisation. By doing so, these tools may institutionalise the “shadow information technology (IT)" situation, which has plagued IT firms for decades and might get much worse if not properly managed.
So, how do you properly manage them? We already mentioned the top 7 reasons organisations are not adopting LCNC integration platforms, but how should they mitigate the risks when they finally do?
- Resistance to change: Involving stakeholders early in the implementation process can help them feel invested in the project and more likely to support the change. Monitoring performance to improve the platform based on user feedback continuously will also help ensure that the platform meets their needs and remains relevant over time.
- Technical skills: Vendor tools do not have a universal programming model; hence, it is fragmented. Citizen developers do not have programming experience but are expected to apply their domain knowledge to build long-lasting applications on systems that are implemented and run entirely on software and rely on the underlying hardware to provide necessary resources. However, this can be mitigated by implementing standardisation, centralised governance, integration, documentation, training, and support.
In addition, you can outsource your integrations for experts to build and maintain them or build them so you can maintain them easily on the cloud.
- Integration: Integrating LCNC platforms with other software systems and tools can help improve the technology landscape's overall cohesion. Detailed and precise documentation is crucial for the success of an integration. The lack of documentation can make it difficult for others to work with the integration, leading to confusion and delays.
Besides, it is important to define both functional and non-functional requirements. Once the non-functional requirements have been identified, they should be incorporated into the development process and considered throughout the entire project as they are a crucial part of integration development projects and can have a significant impact. These requirements specify the quality attributes that a system must possess, such as performance, scalability, and security.
Proper testing of the integration is crucial to ensure that it works as expected. Failure to test the integration can lead to bugs and issues that are only discovered after deployment. Hence, it is important to have adequate error handling in place. Without adequate error handling, it can be difficult to determine what went wrong when an issue arises. It is equally important to keep track of changing APIs or versions of the systems the integration connects to. This can prevent the integration from breaking when the other systems are updated.
Security: Integrations often connect to sensitive systems and data, and it is important to have proper security measures in place to prevent security risks. According to the article ‘Low-Code as Enabler of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing Industry’, there is no interaction with technologies that analyse vulnerabilities in dynamic applications. The future work of these platforms can include this to remove any security risks. Teams should do frequent code checks with Snyk, Sonarqube, or Polaris to be notified before deploying code to production to ensure all systems involved in the integration are configured securely, with up-to-date security patches and software. Access control and data encryption are also part of the integration implementation process.
- Cost: There are many ways to help you mitigate risks when it comes to cost. Besides developing a cost-benefit analysis, planning will help you get a better view of the platform's expectations versus what is available, in addition to helping you identify potential issues and mitigate future risks, which can help you avoid additional costs down the line.
And, of course, as mentioned before, providing adequate training to employees helps to ensure they are familiar with the new system. It will help to prevent mistakes, reducing the risk of costly errors.
- Customization: Clearly defining the organisation’s requirements before starting customisation will help determine what is needed to achieve and avoid unnecessary customisation that can increase the risk of errors.
- Scalability. Low-code development platforms are mostly focused on developing smaller apps not currently addressed in terms of their use in large-scale initiatives and mission-critical corporate applications; hence scalability is a risk.
To mitigate scalability issues, the user(s) may create the initial application for innovation using a low-code or graphical interface tool, then give it to a developer to write in Python, Java, or another more scalable language. This way, there’s no wait or dependency on developers for business users to create a new product or solution. Or you can deploy the low-code integration platform on your private cloud, where you can scale up with underlying infrastructure if needed.
The emergence of low-code as a solution to software obsolescence
The rate of software obsolescence is rising as technology advances more quickly. Due to the rapid digital revolution, traditional software engineering methods can no longer keep up with the required speed of innovation or the changing realities of work. In addition, conventional custom coding often fails to match the speed and agility of business requirements.
Choosing an LCNC platform that fits your business needs
In the upcoming years, completely new software infrastructure platforms will emerge designed to facilitate quicker development. Most businesses have already been digitised, and many are in digital transformation. This digital transformation creates a need for in-house developers and engineers, a strategic necessity. According to Bloomberg, this need will be disrupted by LCNC integration platforms when businesses discover they can achieve even greater success with their digital transformations by doing away with hand-coding altogether and implementing LCNC throughout their organisations without tech-savvy developers or programmers.
As stated in a Forrester analysis done in 2016, organisations should specify a defined role in the architecture of LCNC integration platforms. When choosing one, they should, if necessary, involve enterprise architects by setting the proper goals and features. Examine the vendors' roadmap to see if it lines up with theirs.
At VISMA, we have the knowledge and platforms to help you with any custom integrations you might need. Suppose integrations are holding you back from scaling up your software. In that case, if you need a dedicated integration team or your organisation needs more in-house expertise on integrations, we can help you. We can either provide end-to-end solutions or help you develop the integrations you need, and you can maintain them afterwards.
Our dedicated integration experts understand the risks of using LCNC integration platforms and have created best practices to mitigate them. We can help you launch integrations securely, allowing you to choose the best solution that fits your organisation based on your business needs.
We work with FRENDS IPaaS, a lean, low-code, and intuitive IPaaS that comes with many out-of-the-box components, and WSO2, an open-source platform that can help you launch integrations with faster time-to-market.
Do you need help? Please be sure to find out more about our integration services.