Low-Code/No-Code (LC/NC) platforms are revolutionizing the software development industry. Today, anyone can use them to create their own app, tool, or website without existing programming knowledge. How will Low-Code/No-Code platforms evolve in the coming years, and how are they forcing the industry itself to evolve?
Evolving Applications of Low-Code/No-Code
The LC/NC market is expected to grow 20% in 2023 alone and reach an estimated value of $26.9 billion. This technology has gained popularity in recent years as a means of closing skill gaps and making app and web development more efficient. However, it still lacks the flexibility of custom apps designed more traditionally by skilled developers.
Current applications for LC/NC development sit somewhere between off-the-shelf and custom solutions. How will these applications change in the next few years? Here are some of the areas in which developers can expect to see change.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic Process Automation is one of today’s most common applications for Low-Code/No-Code platforms. LC/NC is a great fit for RPA because it usually requires simplifying something that already exists, such as automating a specific workflow.
Low-Code/No-Code developers already know what they need from an app they want to build, so they can shortcut the process without significant User Experience (UX) design. The LC/NC approaches give new developers the tools to build and integrate a straightforward RPA app in the minimum turnaround time possible.
In the future, LC/NC platforms may include more advanced RPA capabilities, and may be able to integrate data from more sources or handle more tasks in a single app. This particular use case may lean more toward No-Code platforms, since automation will soon be necessary for more jobs. As more people without coding experience will seek the ability to use automation, the demand for RPA-specific No-Code platforms will increase.
Simple Web and App Development
The main apps and tools for which Low-Code/No-Code approaches are currently ideal are typically simple in scope and limited in distribution. Most often, a user develops an app solely for in-house use, for their own personal use, or for a one-time event or conference.
For example, Low-Code/No-Code is commonly used for replacing legacy systems. Digital transformation spending is expected to total $3.4 trillion worldwide by 2026. Businesses must evolve their operations and technology to keep up, but that can be difficult without a large development team. Low-Code/No-Code platforms allow companies to upgrade technologies and workflows without in-house developers.
Low-Code/No-Code development platforms aren’t intended for large-scale applications, nor are they ideal for supporting hundreds of users or managing massive quantities of data. In the future, this could change as the technology becomes more capable. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could make it easier to create complex apps without requiring coding knowledge.
Challenges and Innovations in Low-Code/No-Code
How will the capabilities of Low-Code/No-Code platforms evolve in the future? What new applications are emerging? They will increasingly shift toward zero necessary IT involvement in the development process as AI makes it possible for nearly anyone to create original, customized code.
Generative AI-Powered Coding
Generative AI is changing the game in app and web development. Platforms like ChatGPT are opening the door for anyone to try developing their own app or website with zero prior experience. Users can type in a text prompt explaining what they want, and ChatGPT will do its best to generate code that fits the bill. It can also help debug code that users copy and paste into the prompt window.
Of course, platforms like ChatGPT are not foolproof. They do make mistakes, and users have found flaws and gaps in AI-generated code. As of 2023, ChatGPT-4 excels with small, specific chunks of code but breaks down when asked to write an entire application. It can deliver customized code, but only piecemeal. Developers still need to know what’s required and how it fits with the rest of their apps.
Platforms like ChatGPT could evolve into full-scale app development tools in the future. In many ways, AI is the ultimate Low-Code/No-Code platform. Users type in what they want the code to do and let the AI do the rest. Businesses will likely be able to function with small teams of developers who verify and implement it.
Greater Emphasis on Cybersecurity
One of the pitfalls of today’s Low-Code/No-Code platforms is a minimal ability to customize security features. The lack of visibility into the coding going on behind the scenes simplifies development but blinds developers to potential security risks. Additionally, people with no coding knowledge or experience using LC/NC approaches may not be aware of important security features they should have or red flags to watch out for.
In the future, Low-Code/No-Code platforms will see more emphasis on cybersecurity. For example, the Online Worldwide Application Security Project (OWASP) has developed a framework of 10 key security protocols for Low-Code/No-Code apps. Developers can use it to learn about important security risks and features and how to address them in their development process.
The security options in Low-Code/No-Code platforms themselves will also grow in the years ahead. The global cost of cybercrime is expected to hit $11.5 trillion in 2023 and more than double that by 2027. There will be more demand for advanced security features as security threats grow. For example, developers might begin including AI threat-monitoring tools.
Clearer Intellectual Property Standards
Intellectual Property rights are a growing concern in coding and development, especially since AI can write functional code. When anyone can automate coding, who is really writing it? Who is the developer of new Low-Code/No-Code apps, and who has the IP rights to these programs and any profits made?
These questions must be resolved as Low-Code/No-Code platforms gain in popularity, particularly in the context of growing geopolitical complications surrounding IP rights. For instance, the war in Ukraine led Russia to implement a 0% license fee on IP content from “unfriendly countries” like the U.S. and European nations.
Code and apps can be subject to IP laws, not just content such as books and movies. Low-Code/No-Code platforms may soon be able to develop apps on the same level of customization and precision a professional developer could deliver, and the industry will need to decide who has the IP rights to these new apps—the people using the platforms, or those who designed them.
How Will Low-Code/No-Code Impact Developers?
Low-Code/No-Code technology’s role in the software development industry is also evolving. Everyone is wondering what the future holds for professional software developers today. The combination of AI and Low-Code/No-Code platforms leads many to wonder if they will become obsolete. While this will not happen anytime soon, the developer role is shifting.
Low-Code/No-Code platforms and AI like ChatGPT are tools, like any other technology. They can help developers do their jobs more efficiently and easily but cannot replace the expertise people can provide.
Resolving the skills shortage is one specific area where Low-Code/No-Code platforms will help developers. Coders and programmers are in high demand in all areas of computer science today.
For example, the shortage of cybersecurity professionals leaves many businesses ill-equipped to handle rising cybercrime rates. Similarly, over 37% of recruiters report struggling to find enough developers with the necessary skills for their businesses’ needs. However, young people continue to show a strong interest in computer science, indicating a growing talent pool.
Demand for software development skills continues to grow faster than the available talent pool can keep up with. Low-Code/No-Code platforms will help businesses fill those shortages. Smaller teams of developers can use them to work more efficiently and operate at the same level as a larger group.
Similarly, developers may not need to do much manual coding in the future. Their roles may shift toward designing, testing, and maintaining apps. Meanwhile, Low-Code/No-Code platforms and AI will do the bulk of the actual code-writing process. As a result, developers will be able to roll out apps faster and with less budget required.
Low-Code/No-Code Is Innovating Software Development
Low-Code/No-Code software development platforms are transforming how new apps, tools, and websites are created. Now anyone can get into software development, regardless of prior coding experience.
Low-Code/No-Code platforms will become more capable in the years ahead thanks to the advanced capabilities of AI models like ChatGPT. IP rights and cybersecurity will become important concerns as adoption grows. Professional developers will remain vital to the industry for the foreseeable future, although their roles will evolve to adapt to Low-Code/No-Code processes.