For those new to the space, it’s common to think that low-code and no-code platforms are more or less the same thing. Indeed plenty of publishers out there refer to them as if they’re one entity: hence the common LCNC acronym. That’s something we disagree with.
Low-code and no-code are two separate things, for two separate user groups, and demanding two separate implementation strategies. Reminder: no-code is for people who genuinely cannot code, but low-code platforms can only be used by people who can. No matter what low-code platform you happen to find yourself using, you’ll require some coding knowledge. For more on the differences between them, check out this article on the topic.
If you’re sitting there feeling slightly confused as to what’s the right fit for your organisation, we’ve got you.
What you need to know:
• Low-code and no-code benefit different departments
There’s a pretty wide range in the level of technical know-how in different departments. No-code platforms are, naturally, going to suit those departments with a lower level of technical know-how. Think: customer service, operations or marketing. If there are digitally literate employees within these teams who know their way around Excel, they can start building their own digital solutions without bothering the IT department. And as long as there’s a centre of excellence in place, you’ve added a brand new capability to their toolkit. These departments, though, won't benefit from using low-code directly.
Your IT department, on the other hand, will benefit from low-code directly. They can make use of platforms and tools to build software apps faster. The business will benefit because IT can build things quicker, better and more efficiently. But an IT department benefits from no-code too. That’s because the majority of IT departments tend to be filled with people who can’t actually code. Or they could code, but twenty years ago (sorry if that’s you). These sorts are a perfect fit for no-code platforms as they’ll have access to an interface that’s easy to use, which lets them move quickly.
• The ideal scenario is to embrace both
If an organisation really wants success in this area, it’s the NCDT view that you should probably be using both low-code and no-code platforms. Ultimately no-code does have its limitations, and whether they’re technical or cultural, (eg, IT doesn't want you to run your customer banking app on a platform like Bubble) there’s just stuff that no-code can’t or shouldn’t do. There, we said it.
When it comes to running complex and risky workflows, IT departments are still going to trust big low-code platforms such as Mendix, Microsoft Power Automate or Outsystems. But that doesn’t mean your designers can’t use Webflow to design your website; it doesn’t mean your product team can’t build prototypes with Adalo; and it doesn’t mean your operations team can’t use Stacker to build internal apps. All no-code platforms with a lot to offer an organisation.
• It’s not always a case of leading with low-code first
In an ideal world, you’d probably start with introducing low-code platforms to the organisation, let the IT department become comfortable with it and then move on to no-code platforms. But the reality is not quite as clear-cut. Because one of the major challenges in bringing no-code into an organisation is the view that non-IT people can’t build software safely. There’s a danger that by implementing low-code platforms, you’re reinforcing the notion that no-code platforms aren’t right for enterprises, and you’re not putting the work in to challenge that perspective. That work, of course, is to work in tandem with IT to create a safe environment where non-technical people can build software.
• The ultimate aim is to create homegrown engineers
One of the amazing things about no-code is the upskilling it offers to employees. It’s not crazy to envision the path an employee might take that starts with no-code platforms.
They increase their level of technical knowledge by using no-code platforms.
They bridge the gap into coding by learning to use a low-code platform.
In a world where engineers are hard to find, expensive, and super hard to attract, being able to ‘grow’ engineers from within your company is a huge advantage. Particularly because these are people who understand the business through and through and might have even been on the phone with customers. That’s an amazing talent pipeline. The future is going to be owned by whichever companies are most digitally productive – it stands to reason that the more people you can make digitally productive, the better.
It’s clearly not accurate to think of low-code and no-code platforms as being the same thing; nor is it a binary choice between one or the other in an organisation. The ideal scenario is a blend of both, so every department (including IT!) can create digital solutions to the problems they’re facing.