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Traditional Development vs. Low Code: What Makes Sense for Your Business


Speed. This one word sums up the most critical business differentiator of our times. As the American entrepreneur, Marc Benioff aptly says, “Speed is the new currency of business.” Tech enterprises are leaving no stone unturned to achieve business velocity. But what if businesses on their digital transformation journey could club speed with scale, simplicity, and agility? The outcome would set new benchmarks for how applications should be developed. This is where low-code platforms come in.

The concept of low-code development is not new, though it may have stepped into the limelight and only seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Global research firm Forrester coined the term “low-code” to classify development platforms that empowered users of all skill levels to create applications through a graphical user interface. And this trend perhaps saw its most significant uptick after the pandemic hit. Today low-code development is everywhere. According to Gartner, low-code will account for 65% of all app development by 2024. And that brings us to the critical debate for enterprises on choosing between traditional and low-code app development.

While both traditional and low-code development has its benefits and limitations, selecting a strategy that will work for your enterprise requires a comprehensive study of the two’s key features, pros, and cons.

Traditional application development, also called custom software development, requires a team of developers and programmers to write code while building enterprise applications. The approach involves gathering app requirements, strategizing a plan, and deploying it with a project management approach. It mandates an appropriate tech stack and a skilled developers team proficient at using related frameworks. Traditional development includes limitless app functionality, flexible customization, high scalability, and greater control of the app’s source code. That said, the process can become complicated and expensive due to:

  • Multifaceted configurations
  • Bug-related issues
  • Manual coding errors
  • Longer turnaround times
  • Beta testing challenges

No surprise then that traditional ways of building applications are being overshadowed by the newer, more agile low-code app development methodology. Industry reports suggest that 84% of businesses are now using low-code primarily to:

  • Reduce pressure on their IT resources
  • Improve speed-to-market
  • Involve business process experts in development

A low-code development platform (LCDP) is designed to complete a lot of work for the developers and eliminate the human errors typical in traditional processes. Apps and systems built on LCDP actively leverage a graphical user interface with features such as drag-and-drop functionality, picklist selection boxes, and spreadsheets. While the platform does generate fully operational applications, it may also need some amount of coding to fulfill special requirements in some apps. Typically, low code platforms offer:

  • Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software tools that support the development, configuring, debugging, deployment, and upkeep of software all through staging, building, and testing processes
  • Visual Integrated Development Environment (Visual IDE) helps developers to define the UIs, workflows, and data models of their application and, wherever required, allows them to write and edit code manually
  • Connectors to different backend systems or services that automatically handle data structures, storage, and retrieval

With low code, enterprises can create apps with modern user interfaces, multiple integrations, valuable data, and business logic at speed and scale. The ability to build numerous apps and software products within short timelines results in lower development costs and eliminates the need to hire experienced developers.

Perhaps, one of the most significant advantages low code platforms offer is the ability to involve a larger team with varied skills to support the development. In addition to the developers with coding skills, organizations can capitalize on the expertise of people who have deep business and process knowledge to ensure that the app development is tuned to key requirements and compliance norms.

If anything, the one common factor that the pandemic has taught enterprises across industries is the need to be agile and adapt swiftly to dynamic market conditions. And a low-code approach addresses this need effectively.

Choosing between traditional and low-code app development

The traditional approach to building applications is the ideal choice where your business is looking for code control and a greater degree of app customization, portability across platforms, unique user interfaces, and flexible scaling. On the other hand, low-code app development makes for a better option when your requirements are:

  • Rapid minimum viable product (MVP) development
  • Static websites and web apps
  • Experimenting with innovative concepts
  • Code/ module reuse
  • Minimizing technical debt
  • Rapid legacy modernization
  • Iterative approach to digital transformation

There is no doubt that low-code platforms have irrevocably transformed the way applications are developed. By collaborating with business and citizen developers, enterprises can rapidly create reliable, robust applications. Companies need to assess the expectations from the application before deciding on the approach to development. From agile workplace innovations and comprehensive legacy migration projects to customer-centric digital transformation, low code platforms are at the center of a wide range of use cases that deliver value-driven outcomes to end-users.

It would make business sense for most organizations to leverage both low code and traditional development in tandem to drive productivity and short- and long-term objectives. A collaborative approach is critical to decreasing your IT team’s workloads and reducing backlogs. Similarly, business users benefit from greater control over app development and not always relying on IT to achieve their goals. Marrying these two approaches with the right balance can truly transform business operations and empower enterprises to maximize growth opportunities.

(The author is Mr. Pankaj Jain, Founder, and CEO, Aaseya IT Services Pvt. Ltd and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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