Low-Code Automation: Simplifying Processes Without Extensive Coding
Traditional software development methods often involve lengthy coding cycles and dependencies on specialized IT teams, resulting in time constraints, resource limitations, and a lack of agility. Low code automation platforms empower both IT professionals and non-technical users to build and automate applications, workflows, and processes with minimal coding requirements. By offering visual interfaces, pre-designed templates, and drag-and-drop functionality, low code automation eases application development, accelerates time-to-market, and fosters collaboration between business and IT teams.
In this essay, we will discuss the remarkable potential of low-code automation platforms. We will explore how they empower enterprises to overcome the challenges of resource constraints, streamline application development, and foster a culture of innovation within organizations. By embracing low-code automation, businesses can unleash their creativity, expedite time-to-market, and drive digital transformation in an increasingly competitive business landscape.
What is Low Code Automation?
Gartner defines low-code automation as powerful platforms designed to rapidly develop and deploy custom applications. These platforms achieve this by abstracting and minimizing the need for extensive coding during the development process. In essence, they provide a user-friendly environment where businesses can create feature-rich applications while overcoming the traditional barriers imposed by complex programming languages.
Low-code automation presents developers with a comprehensive set of intuitive tools for building, automating, deploying, and modifying applications, workflows, and processes while minimizing the need for extensive coding. It empowers business technologists, who possess domain expertise but may lack extensive coding knowledge, to actively contribute to application development. Although professional developers play an indispensable role in creating and maintaining critical business process applications, the goal of low-code automation is to streamline the development process and involve non-technical people as well.
The importance of low-code platforms goes beyond speed and inclusivity. These technologies enable organizations to achieve the level of digital competency required in today's technology-driven world. Low-code automation offers a wide range of uses that benefit businesses across various industries. Here are five examples that demonstrate the versatility and effectiveness of low-code and no-code solutions.
- Low-code platforms excel in UI design, simplifying the creation of appealing and functional user interfaces. With the complexity of operating systems, browsers, libraries, and dependencies, no code development tools enable the rapid generation and easy updates of code for different devices and platforms, be it mobile, web, or desktop.
- Integration is another prominent use case for no-code solutions. Seamlessly combining various customer relationship management (CRM), content management systems (CMS), and other applications into a cohesive system becomes achievable with the help of no-code tools.
- Low-code automation also aids in API generation, particularly for legacy systems that lack modern API support. Low-code API generators automatically build APIs based on existing application code, enabling integration with modern tools and technologies.
- Business project management can also benefit from low-code tools. While traditional business process management (BPM) systems may lack specific built-in features, low-code platforms allow for quick addition of required functionalities, such as data analysis and management.
- Low-code automation can be implemented in Docker containers, providing flexibility and scalability. Using low-code systems, organizations can rapidly build development environments tailored to their needs, whether on bare-metal servers, virtual private servers (VPS), on-premises clouds, or public cloud platforms.
Gartner's predictions for 2023 highlight the tremendous growth anticipated in the global market for software technologies that utilize little or no code. The market is projected to reach an impressive $26.9 billion by 2023. The increasing prevalence of hyper-automation projects and complex business initiatives is expected to drive the accelerated adoption of enterprise low-code application and no-code technologies. By 2026, these technologies are anticipated to play a pivotal role in empowering organizations to effectively tackle intricate challenges and streamline their operations. A report by Forrester states that 39% of companies are currently leveraging low-code development to empower developers outside of the IT department. Additionally, the report indicates that 27% of firms have plans to adopt low-code development within the next 12 months.
Benefits of Low-Code Automation
Low-code automation offers significant advantages over full custom coding and fully low-code options, particularly when customization is required for automation projects and business applications. The democratization of development enables organizations to leverage the collective expertise of their teams, fostering collaboration and innovation while minimizing the bottleneck typically associated with relying solely on IT developers.
The following benefits highlight the value of low-code automation in accelerating development, enhancing scalability, ensuring stability, and fostering collaboration between business and IT teams.
- Accelerated Development: Full custom coding can be time-consuming, leading to delays in achieving ROI for critical projects. Low-code platforms designed specifically for developers facilitate accelerated development by reducing the need for extensive custom coding. This results in faster time-to-market and improved ROI.
- Flexibility and Integration: Low-code platforms tailored for developers offer greater flexibility compared to low-code tools intended for citizen developers. These platforms allow for seamless integration with various systems and applications, ensuring that developers are never blocked in their efforts. Additionally, developers can design unique user interfaces that align with specific business needs.
- Efficient Testing: Low-code automation platforms equipped with testing toolkits enable both technical and non-technical developers to create integration tests quickly and efficiently. This not only saves time during the development phase but also results in better-tested software. With comprehensive testing, the likelihood of unanticipated problems after deployment decreases, leading to smoother operations.
- Scalability and Complex Logic: Low-code tools are well-suited for building highly scalable applications that support complex logic. These applications play a crucial role in ongoing digital transformation efforts, allowing businesses to adapt and evolve to meet changing requirements and market demands.
- Stability and Maintainability: Applications built using low-code platforms are designed for stability and maintainability over a long life cycle. This is especially important when businesses depend on reliable and robust solutions that can withstand evolving needs and technological advancements.
- Collaboration between Business and IT: Low-code platforms provide visual tools that facilitate collaboration between business and IT teams. The visual interfaces enable easier communication and understanding of application requirements, fostering effective collaboration throughout the development process. This alignment between business and IT stakeholders contributes to the creation of successful, tailor-made solutions.
Low-code Automation Tools
A robust low-code automation platform encompasses essential capabilities, ensuring the seamless creation of complete applications. These capabilities include low-code features, such as model-driven or graphical programming approaches with scripting, allowing users to develop comprehensive applications. Moreover, these platforms offer support for developing applications with intuitive user interfaces, robust business logic, streamlined workflows, and efficient data services. They also simplify crucial stages of the application lifecycle, including testing, deployment, and ongoing management.
The following are some of the most popular low-code automation platforms available today:
Outsystems: OutSystems is a high-performance low-code platform known for its serious productivity and continuous innovation. With visual development tools and AI-powered automation, OutSystems enables customers to address strategic challenges such as application modernization, workplace innovation, process automation, and customer experience transformation. The platform ensures secure, resilient, and scalable solutions that are cloud-ready. Its features encompass UI and programming code extending, customized branding, application templates, workflows, data migration, synchronization, and security. With seamless application deployment, platform compatibility, and lifecycle management, OutSystems emphasizes ease of use, customization, straight-out-the-box functionality, and comprehensive help guides for a streamlined development experience.
Mendix: Mendix is an all-in-one low-code application development platform to rapidly create enterprise-grade solutions using abstraction and automation. With its drag-and-drop approach, the Mendix Platform enables the building of software with complex data integrations, workflow automation, and development of react native and progressive web mobile applications. Mendix offers both low-code and no-code integrated development environments (IDEs), allowing developers with different skill sets to collaborate on the same application. Customers leverage Mendix to excel in their markets by delivering exceptional digital experiences, automated processes, and modernized legacy systems. The platform features an open platform, social collaboration, multi-channel and multi-device support, visual application development, simplified deployment, centralized app management, and enterprise integration and security capabilities.
Microsoft Power Apps: Microsoft Power Apps is a comprehensive suite of low-code development software designed to empower both citizen and professional developers in creating custom applications with robust business logic and workflow automation capabilities. The suite excels in building web and mobile apps, such as employee onboarding or work scheduling, as well as web portals like customer or community portals. Key features of Power Apps include app creation and management, data and integrations management, data security and compliance, artificial intelligence (AI Builder) integration, pre-built templates for canvas and model-driven apps, a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, and the Power Apps component framework, specifically designed for professional developers.
ServiceNow: ServiceNow is a powerful platform designed to streamline enterprise workflows and automate processes based on ITIL principles (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). It offers extensive customization options to tailor itself to specific requirements. Leveraging machine learning technology, ServiceNow enables automated processes and workflow creation. Key features include instance-based implementation, asset tracking, controlled approval processes, an activity dashboard for tracking activities, improved operational tracking, user-friendly configuration, excellent customer support with minimal maintenance costs, real-time analysis of processes, robust security ensuring data confidentiality and integrity, and easy customization of settings to align with individual needs. ServiceNow empowers organizations to optimize operations and enhance productivity with its comprehensive set of features.
Oracle APEX: Oracle APEX is an enterprise-grade low-code application platform that empowers users to develop scalable and secure web and mobile applications with robust features. It offers the flexibility to deploy these applications in various environments, including the cloud or on-premises. APEX is a web-based solution that enables application development, deployment, and execution directly in the web browser, supporting a range of devices such as mobile, desktop, and tablet browsers. APEX caters to Database Developers, Front-End Developers, and Citizen Developers, providing an intuitive interface that simplifies the software development process. While Oracle's Autonomous Cloud offers a self-repairing and self-running database for running APEX applications, users also have the option to deploy APEX on-premises, in a private cloud, or using containers developed by the community or Oracle itself.
Apart from the popular low-code platforms discussed above, there are upcoming tools that are rapidly gaining importance. The Appian Platform has strong automation capabilities, exceptional multi-region high availability, and a robust security approach. It also boasts an ever-evolving ecosystem driven by partnerships and certified developers. Zoho Creator supports multiple development languages and offers innovative features like AI support for data, serverless functionality, and process blueprints. Pega specializes in low-code development for workflow automation, supporting process mining, AI-driven process optimization, and robotic process automation (RPA). It provides a flexible cloud-native, microservices-based, and multitenant experience, ensuring adaptability for various needs. These emerging low-code tools bring unique features and capabilities to the market, catering to the evolving demands of businesses.
Low-code and No-code automation with Nanonets
Nanonets are an invaluable tool for low-code automation, specifically in the domain of document automation. With its no-code platform, Nanonets simplifies manual processes by implementing automated workflows, enabling users to automate tasks without requiring coding expertise. Its specialization in Computer Vision allows Nanonets to offer pre-built solutions for common document types while also granting users the flexibility to create custom models.
By operating within a no-code environment, Nanonets eliminates the need for coding in automation processes and allows users to establish role-based restrictions for controlled access to workflows. The platform offers several unique features that set it apart:
- Text Extraction: Nanonets facilitate the extraction of text from various document formats, such as invoices, bills, and receipts, while also providing data enhancement capabilities before forwarding it to other applications.
- Document Format Support: Supporting multiple document formats, including PDF, PNG, and JPEG, Nanonets accommodates a wide range of document sources.
- AI-Enhanced OCR: Leveraging an intelligent AI-enhanced OCR API, Nanonets automates data extraction, entry labeling, logo detection, and document classification.
- Self-Service AI: Nanonets focuses on enabling self-service artificial intelligence, making it easy to adopt machine learning models even with minimal training data or prior knowledge of machine learning.
- User-Friendly Interface: With a modern and intuitive user interface, Nanonets offers a drag-and-drop feature for creating document workflows. Users can choose from templates or design custom workflows to suit their specific requirements.
- Flexible Hosting and Pricing: Nanonets provides transparent pricing plans and offers a range of hosting options, including on-premise and cloud solutions.
- Integration Capabilities: With an extensive integration library encompassing over 5000 integrations, Nanonets seamlessly connects with other tools and systems, enhancing overall workflow efficiency.
- Data Security and Compliance: Nanonets prioritizes data security and compliance, adhering to GDPR and SOC2 standards to ensure the protection and privacy of user data.
- Customer Support: Users receive 24x7 online chat support and have access to personal client managers who provide prompt assistance.
With its robust features and high customer satisfaction, Nanonets has established itself as one of the leading tools for document automation in the no-code landscape. Additionally, Nanonets offers language bindings in Shell, Ruby, Golang, Java, C#, and Python, making it accessible to developers across different programming languages. The platform provides an easy-to-use API for communication with its servers, allowing users to build machine-learning models and make predictions on image data. The models that can be built using Nanonets include Image Classification, Multi-label Classification, Object Detection, and OCR.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is low code automation?
Low-code automation is a technology approach that enables the rapid development and deployment of applications and workflows with minimal hand-coding. It empowers both developers and non-technical users to create business applications and automate processes through visual interfaces, drag-and-drop components, and pre-built templates. With low-code automation, the need for traditional manual coding is reduced, accelerating the development cycle and increasing productivity. It allows organizations to streamline and digitize their operations by automating repetitive tasks, integrating disparate systems, and optimizing business processes. Low-code automation promotes collaboration between IT and business teams, fostering innovation and agility in application development.
What are the four main benefits of low-code automation?
The four main benefits of low-code automation are increased speed of application development, improved productivity, enhanced agility and flexibility, and greater collaboration between business and IT teams.
- Increased Speed of Application Development: Low-code automation enables the rapid creation and deployment of applications by providing visual development tools, pre-built components, and reusable templates. This significantly reduces the time and effort required for coding, resulting in faster application development and delivery.
- Improved Productivity: With low-code automation, developers can focus on high-value tasks rather than spending excessive time on manual coding. The visual interfaces and drag-and-drop capabilities of low-code platforms streamline the development process, allowing developers to build applications more efficiently. This boosts productivity and allows teams to handle a higher volume of projects.
- Enhanced Agility and Flexibility: Low-code automation empowers organizations to quickly adapt and respond to changing business requirements. The visual nature of low-code platforms enables rapid prototyping and iterative development, allowing for faster iterations and adjustments to applications. This agility enables businesses to stay competitive in dynamic markets and quickly address emerging opportunities.
- Greater Collaboration between Business and IT: Low-code automation promotes collaboration between business and IT teams by providing a common platform for communication and understanding. Business users can actively participate in the application development process, contributing their domain knowledge and requirements. This collaboration fosters alignment between IT and business objectives, leading to better solutions and improved user satisfaction.
What is a low-code digital automation platform?
A low-code digital automation platform is a software development platform that enables the creation and deployment of digital applications and automation workflows with minimal manual coding. It provides a visual interface and a set of tools and components that allow users to design, build, and deploy applications quickly and easily. With a low-code platform, users can leverage pre-built modules, drag-and-drop functionality, and configurable workflows to automate business processes, streamline operations, and enhance customer experiences. These platforms typically offer features such as visual development environments, integration capabilities, data management, and collaboration tools, empowering both professional developers and citizen developers to create sophisticated digital solutions with reduced time, effort, and complexity.
What is the difference between low-code and no-code automation?
The main difference between low-code and no-code automation lies in the level of technical expertise required to build applications or automate processes.
Low-code automation platforms provide a visual development environment with pre-built components and a minimal amount of coding. They enable users with some coding knowledge or development experience to create more complex applications, workflows, and integrations. Low-code platforms offer flexibility and customization options, allowing developers to extend the functionality of the applications as needed.
No-code automation platforms are designed for users with little to no coding experience. These platforms provide a completely visual interface, typically based on drag-and-drop functionality, allowing users to create applications and automate processes without writing any code. No-code platforms focus on simplicity and ease of use, enabling citizen developers or business users to build functional applications with minimal technical knowledge.