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The low code market is worth more than $4 billion today [1], and this is only set to increase, more than doubling to over $20 billion by 2020. What's behind this rapid growth - and could low code help your organisation perform better, faster and at scale?

What is low code?

Low code tends to involve a graphical user interface for the creation of software applications, so that instead of having to code in various programming languages, the user only needs to be trained with the product.

For the unfamiliar, low code platforms are a little like the wave of web-building products that arrived after the first internet boom - but much more powerful, allowing users to build complex applications through a visual interface and automating much of the work under the bonnet. Indeed, as CTO of MatsSoft's Richard Billington says, the company describes itself as "WordPress for the enterprise".

Part of low code’s emergence owes to shifting IT budgets. Board approval on IT projects has long been framed in terms of cost cutting, and while that is still the case to some degree, there are stronger arguments than ever for creating positive user experiences, as well as improving time to deployment - as already seen with the DevOps movement.

However, this shift from IT being a back-office, maintenance function to a fleet-footed, customer-centric model can be tricky to manage. Most IT teams are already wrangling with vast legacy estates, tied to complex technical debt, which in other words is the time and financial cost for reworking old applications and maintaining complex IT architectures.

So, if balancing the back-office IT needs with a customer-facing model hasn't yet moved up the wish-list of your decision-makers it is likely to do so soon.

Low code is more than simply easing the burden on developers

Low code platforms won't ever fully replace coding, but they can help align developers with business priorities such as fast deployment, and alleviate the burden on staff who are constantly encumbered by operations tasks.

By automating as much of the tedium as possible, staff are able to pursue more worthwhile ventures such as providing better features for users. Automatic, meticulous logging, meanwhile, provides a visual map of changes. Tooling that offers a 'single pane of glass' to both developers and project managers can put teams on the same page, de-mystifying code and software architecture for business users and helping developers to communicate the ins and outs of an application to managers.

Low code can help create a leaner, customer-centric organisation

IT decision makers should use this old model as a springboard towards business collaboration and change. Creating a leaner, more efficient business that places customers front and centre is a challenge to be met head-on, especially in an era where the likes of Airbnb and Uber have cleaved open preconceptions about what businesses are capable of. One advantage that the digital-native vanguard holds is the ability to deploy more swiftly as they aren't weighed down by legacy systems. Low code, then, can help companies with considerable legacy estates move more quickly.

Indeed, in this ‘app economy’, customer expectations have quickly shifted. Consumer usage bled into business, and now users expect instantaneous results rather than being stuck in a logjam of customer service tickets. On the front-end, companies are as strong as their applications are functional and easy to use.

There's great opportunity to be had in simplifying your applications, and this can provide benefits to all stakeholders in an organisation, whether that is clearer alignment and collaboration between business and development, better usability for end users, less time spent solving tickets that are a result of mismanaged architecture, or all of the above.

Effectively managing these issues and deploying a low code platform like MATS that makes the technical stuff simpler gives businesses more time and energy to focus on delivering their core value proposition rather than drowning in IT maintenance.

Join MatsSoft and leading IT leaders from Network Rail and more at 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) on 28 March 2019 to meet some of the companies at the forefront of low code. At the event, hosted by CIO.co.uk, you will also find out more about how these platforms can be used to help your organisation get customer centric and operate better at scale.

[1] https://go.forrester.com/blogs/why-you-need-to-know-about-low-code-even-if-youre-not-responsible-for-software-delivery/