In this post we welcome guest blogger Maureen Fleming, Vice President at IDC and lead analyst of IDC’s IoT analytics and information management practice, and IDC’s research covering process automation, API management and continuous analytics.
The use of low code application platforms to build and deploy custom applications is one of the fastest-growing large technology markets. In fact, spending on low code is so fast that, by 2018, we expect enterprises to spend more on low code platforms than they spend for traditional application platforms running developer-written custom code. This is true whether enterprises are running custom applications in their datacenters or on a public cloud.
The goal of low code platforms is to speed up development and minimize re-work by making it easy for business teams to work with developers to design and build applications. For smaller, tactical applications, developers may not be involved at all.
Low code development evolved from either workflow-oriented tools or from data-centric offerings. Teams had to choose which approach made the most sense for their application. As customers began demanding more capabilities to support a broader and more flexible spectrum of applications, some vendors began to offer both workflow and information-centric capabilities within the same platform. They saw value in not forcing the customer to choose, and also saw value in greater flexibility by separating information-based functionality from workflow.
Low Code’s Shift to Information-Centric Design
Products embracing information-centric design shift teams from building automation by linking functionality to specific nodes of a workflow to using the information structure as the driver of automation and the basis for functionality development. The foundation of this structure are data entities, which abstract data into subjects and their properties. These properties are then used in the development of rules, in interaction and UI design, forms, in navigation or as parameters that can determine which workflow is called or the flow of a process or the page flow of an application.
By contrast, classic workflow automation uses business objects as a building block. Similar to data entities, forms are created from the business object properties and rules can use the same properties. Unlike data entities, the properties of business objects are always associated with the workflow. Information-centric design does not require associated workflow, and in fact, workflow becomes a subordinate function to the information structure.
As a result of the shift to information-centric design, there has been a significant expansion in the capabilities and use of low code development with corresponding improvements in ease of use for non-developers. Today, the same platform can automate a process and provide case management as well as deploy browser and mobile apps disassociated from any type of automated workflow.
The use of workflow automation tools continues to be important, and with the shift to cloud architecture and the use of APIs, there are ways to access workflow as needed either broadly or discretely in support of a specific purpose. In fact, workflow has become more important in our increasingly distributed way of doing business.
But for organizations investing in low code to help forge autonomy for business teams requiring automation or to use a platform to build strategic applications, identifying software that is centered around information design while also supporting workflow provides an optimal choice for use across a broad spectrum of automation use cases.
More About Maureen Fleming
With more than 20 years of industry and analyst experience Maureen Fleming is Program Vice President for IDC’s Business Process Management and Middleware research area.
In this role, Ms. Fleming examines the products and processes used for building, integrating, and deploying applications within an extended enterprise system.