Vendor lock-in is a pretty common – and understandable – concern when it comes to actually committing to a no-code platform. Time to unearth the nuance.
No organisation wants to feel like they’re locked-in with a vendor with no leverage. Unable to move to a different platform or adopt new technology because it’s either too challenging, too expensive or just technically impractical.
In the context of adopting new no-code software, it’s an issue that comes up frequently. What about if you want to share or migrate data? What if the software becomes too heavily integrated with the company’s tech infrastructure? What happens if employees become too accustomed to a specific platform? What happens if the vendor itself isn’t going to last the distance? How will the pricing plan they offer affect you in the future? Lots of fears, all justified.
The truth is that with most no-code platforms, you are putting the key functionality of your business onto a proprietary platform. And it’s quite rare that you’ll be able to export that code. But the chances are that no-code won’t really be near your business-critical apps in the first two years. That means the leverage that vendors are able to exert is pretty minimal.
Here are a few more reasons why vendor-lock isn’t quite the concern it should be – and certainly not something that should stop any conversation around adopting no-code.
• Providers are generally eager to please
It’s worth saying, first and foremost, that most no-code platforms and tools out there try to be as flexible as they can be to the needs of a business. They want happy, satisfied customers – unless their customer support team is full of masochistic types – and they’re not looking to burn any bridges. That means they might support integrations with external systems, provide data export capabilities, or even embrace open standards. That makes a transition to another platform far more seamless – if that’s what you end up doing.
• There are other platforms out there
One of the fears of being locked-in with a no-code platform is that you can’t do the same thing with anything else. Well, most no-code platforms do not have unique capabilities. There’s normally at least one or two other platforms able to do pretty much the exact same thing in terms of functionality. For example, if you build an app in Adalo and shut it down tomorrow, you can go over to Glide relatively easily. Sure, there will be some features, components and templates that aren’t replicated, but generally, you can rebuild your app on another platform if you need to.
• Some platforms do actually allow you to export code
Okay, despite saying it’s rare, there are some no-code platforms that allow you to export your code and host it yourself. Webflow is one example. You can export the entire code of your website, minus a few features. It’s not a huge percentage of platforms that allow you to do this, but still… Plus, there are open-source platforms out there too, such as Appsmith or N8N, which obviously negates the worry of being locked-in. However, the most effective tools are always likely to be closed-source.
• You won’t be beholden to a platform if you structure things properly
Structure your app properly, and the dangers of vendor lock-in are greatly reduced.
You can ensure your data is sitting elsewhere (like Airtable) so that the only thing that’s happening on the platform is the front-end.
You can make sure your app build is well documented so that you can build it again.
You can make sure any calculations, variables or important data that apply to the logic are also documented so that you can use them again.
You can make more use of API calls in your app build.
You can train your staff around the fundamentals of no-code in general.
You can use multiple no-code platforms so you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.
The takeaway: the pros outweigh the cons
With all that said, this is still essentially a trade-off. The benefits of implementing no-code platforms are compelling: you’re saving cash, time and empowering more people within your organisation to actually build digital solutions for the business. That increased productivity and scalability gives serious benefits to an enterprise – in our view, justifying any risks of vendor lock-in. Especially because it’s relatively quick and easy to move onto a new platform if you really need to.