The result is a marked gap between the demand for new business services and the ability of IT to deliver. The business needs speed to market – but also cannot afford high risk, core application change programmes. Enhancements to these systems can take months or even years, and often business requirements have evolved long before upgrades can be implemented. Ultimately, deploying new services and products on these platforms is not an option. With limited IT resources to support innovation, the business looks outside of IT for help. This is when departmental projects begin to deploy “Shadow IT” or “End User Computing” solutions. It’s understandable – when leaders are incentivised with saving costs or implementing a new service, they will look for alternative and creative ways to achieve their goals. The issue with this is that such solutions fall outside the IT domain and are usually supported by the business or the vendor of the application. IT may have no visibility or influence over these selections, even though they underpin critical products and services.
The low-code approach
We often see business stakeholders turn to low-code platforms to meet their needs. Low-code technologies are being used by organisations to fulfil growing demands for speed of application delivery and to deliver highly customised automation workflows. This is a rapidly growing trend with analysts predicting this year a 19.6% rise in adoption from 2022 (Gartner). Quick to deliver, these cloud-based applications are easy for the business to understand and engage with and often are a revelation that enables business heads to meet their objectives. However, it’s all too easy for such applications to become part of the morass of “Shadow IT”. While applications deliver impressive and tangible business value, as a purely departmental solution organisations are missing a much bigger opportunity for low-code to meet its true potential – closing the gap between business demand and IT’s ability to supply. If the enterprise goal is to reduce cost by £500m, the departmental savings are simply a slice of that pie – so what about the rest?
Bridging the gap
Where traditional solutions can take months or years to deliver, low-code solutions are typically delivered in a matter of weeks by small collaborative teams leveraging skills across both the business and IT. Development effort is estimated to be between 10-25% of that required for traditional code-based solutions. It seems obvious that having a low-code capability within IT is a game changer. What if IT could deliver 4x faster with fewer resources, in collaboration with the business, and with all of the corporate standard governance and controls that the organisation requires? Bringing low-code technology into the arsenal of IT is a potent weapon. It reduces shadow IT and enables business agility, while liberating demands for new products and services from the classic obstacle of unacceptable lead times. All of this points to the need for the establishment of low-code delivery capability, in the heart of IT, as a strategic initiative that aligns directly to corporate strategic goals.
Why low-code is a matter for the board
Establishing any new capability requires investment. Like any other business function, it needs to be properly designed and strong foundations put in place before it can reach full “run” potential. This includes selecting the right technology platform; defining governance, controls, and standards for the programme; creating a centre of excellence to support delivery of applications; engaging with the right delivery partners to enable scalability. All of which brings us back full circle to the IT budget challenge. With limited resources for innovation, it’s hard to ringfence funds from the IT budget for such a programme.
Put simply, low-code solutions can deliver at pace against strategic corporate objectives, enabling the delivery of new products and services, new digital channels for customers, streamlining and automating key processes and reducing risk across the business. While departmental usages of the technology will have proven viability and demonstrated tangible business value for those solutions, as mentioned already – these are just chipping away at the wider corporate goals. Establishing the ability to deliver such solutions enterprise-wide opens the door to unlocking business value at a corporate scale. So, investment is needed – and that’s a matter for the board!