The power of low-code development platforms (LCDPs) to tackle skill shortages in the ICT sector

Even though programming is gaining traction, both within Europe and outside, it is worthy to note that there is still a long way to go towards the EU Digital Decade’s target of 20 million ICT specialists until 2030. Low-code development platforms (LCDPs) however may hold the key to making programming more accessible and reachable by all. 

Making programming even more efficient than now

Low-code development platforms have the power to make programming even more efficient by reducing the average amount of time spent on tasks, and enabling accelerated delivery of business applications. This also means that a much wider segment of the population can participate in one way or another in the development of the application – whereas in the past tasks of this type required not only people with good coding skills, but also individuals with an understanding of good governance and adherence to common rules and regulations. 

In these cases, LCPDs can also help to lower the start-up (initial) cost of setting-up, training, deployment, and maintenance – all stages of a longer traditional process that requires certain time to pass for these phases to take place. 

Poland is in dire need of developers 

On average, 1 in 1 organisations working in Poland today to implement new technological solutions (such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, cloud computing, etc) claim to be experiencing more difficulties in recruiting suitably qualified professionals than before. So can technology in this situation help to bridge the needed IT experts and replace developers at least to some extent in some of their tasks? This is not a completely improbable scenario, as shown by the growing importance of the low-code platform IT model, which allows for the rapid construction of applications.  

For a while now, IT professionals have been headhunted as recruitment targets chased by hundreds and thousands of organisations from all around the world. Because of their particular, technical and rare skill set, digital experts make up some of the world’s most prestigious and well-remunerated occupations. What is more, the rapid force of the digital transformation throughout Poland, Europe, and on a global scale, is causing industries and sectors to adapt and change. And this is not all: IT projects themselves are also becoming much more complex.

Programmers are very much still needed – but a mix of specialist skills and occupations like engineers, testers and developers are also increasingly sought to comprise diverse and efficient application development teams. Research on this topic is also in consensus that the number of ICT specialists in Europe is simply not enough, and as the sector continues to boom, this gap is bound to only increase unless more and more people have the ability (and interest) in going towards digital and IT careers. 

Another aspect pointed out by a number of experts is the potential of Artificial Intelligence to temporarily bridge this gap and support the implementation of a wider range of tasks as a way for the IT sector to emerge from this difficult context. Others are looking towards low-code platforms as potential solutions. Another group is looking for solutions in low-code platforms. So what exactly are these and why this interest in them? In this article, we dive into low-code development platforms, and their potential to change the way programming is done all over the world. 

A switch to low-code development platforms?

Low-code development platforms have a huge potential: but first, some definitions may be useful given the novel nature of the term. A low-code development platform (LCDP) provides a development environment that can be used to create an application software via the use of a graphical user interface. It may produce applications that are entirely operational, or such that call for additional coding in particular situations.

LCDPs are based on a visual approach to software development: what makes them special is the fact that they are so user-friendly, that designing business applications can be quick, pleasant, efficient, and flexible. 

Main function and aims 

In simple terms, LCDPs allow new IT solutions to be built in real time from the graphic interface itself, and by using simpler mechanisms like dragging and dropping. In specific cases, this can remove the need for programming altogether. Through LCDPs, anyone (those with no specialisation whatsoever and the ones that already possess some skills) can work on building business applications, which are functional, compatible with relevant regulation and standards in force, and are easy to integrate with systems already at the organisation’s disposal. 

Sectors and trends 

This potential of low-code platforms is recognised not only by individual companies in Poland, but even by entire sectors as a whole. It is of interest to the automotive, medical or industrial sectors, which need and want to improve business processes, and are currently often hampered by lack of staff of recruitment delays. LCDPs, in such cases, can help to effectively relieve the burden on developers and delegate more difficult tasks to them, whilst leaving minor solutions and challenges to automation. For any organisation, the potential of this extremely efficient use of resources (both technical and human) may well be a game changer. 

The popularity of platforms is now growing, as a result of the widespread use of common programming standards. The LCDP segment is expected to grow by almost 20 % in 2023 alone. As Gartner predicts, 70 % of new applications in organisations will be generated already in 2025. For a growing business that wants to keep up with the fast pace of technological development, this is an option that is difficult to ignore.  

State-of-play of the IT market in low-code

Low-code development platforms are hardly revolutionary – they have been around for a while now, and we should refrain from projecting a vision of LCDPs bringing an end to programming as a discipline, and as certain apocalyptic scenarios suggest. Whilst it is undeniable that LCDPs do have their limitations, then wisely exploited, the improvement margin for any organisation is huge and brings tangible benefits to the company, for instance through automating business processes. 

What are the applications of low-code platforms?

They certainly provide a good starting point from which it is easier to achieve results more quickly. LCDPs are useful in a variety of areas: from building functional prototypes of mobile applications, websites, or process engines, to contributing in accelerating prototyping, conceptual work or testing. This means it’s much easier to get to the desired objective in a much shorter time frame compared to an organisation that has used traditional software development methods.

Organisations also tend to capitalise on the potential of LCDPs anytime they need software which is customised and tailored specifically to their needs. Even at times when application services on the market end up leaving underdeveloped business processes (also not fully in line with company policy and expectations) behind, the more efficient business solution may be to fill the gap fast again, or to design an individually-owned system that meets all company needs. A concrete example of the application of the low-code platform are applications that provide new functionalities and complement or combine cloud options used or EER systems.

Such IT projects, which streamline internal processes, are developed using low-code platforms, giving companies a high degree of freedom to create and adapt a solution. This is often decided by corporations that have developed strategies and a wide range of cooperation with their counterparts. The large number of points of contact influences more infrastructure features and thus potential locations, where the apps available on the market do not fully meet all expectations.

Low-code platforms in the digital transformation world

The digital transformation has been shaping the strategy for many organisations to operate and develop for years. It provides a competitive advantage, opens up new opportunities for business cooperation and provides innovative and interactive ways of engaging with consumers. At a time, when the market lacks the needed IT specialists to realise its true potential, low-code platforms can serve as a bridge – a path to navigating round the problem until the gap is filled, and operate despite evident and large shortages in the suppy of digital talents from the ICT sector. 

This opportunity brought forward by low-code platforms is being used today by all sectors and companies of all sizes – from SMEs interested to tailor available solutions to fit their own specific needs, to big corporations that need to improve the management of data collected in global databases and local systems. Low-code platforms can also help organisations accelerate customer onboarding, as well as deploy solutions like digital machine parks or develop, and improve existing training digital tools. They are a door for safe software development and process improvement, in light of the shortage of ICT experts in Europe. 

Today, business demands are putting great responsibility and pressure on developers to meet their expectations, which they are unable to meet with the current number of professionals. The solution is provided by low-code platforms, which are able to maintain the rapid pace of development and partially address the understaffing issues that have been facing the digitalised world for several years.

Image credit: 
© elizabeth.hargis

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