I was invited to join the closing ‘fireside chat’ session of the Low-Code Marathon run by Creatio. The Marathon comprised two weeks of insight, debate, expert analysis, industry examples, and thought leadership on low-code technology, innovation and business change. It was a pleasure to be part of so many of the discussions during the event. Erik Hale moderated the closing fireside chat, as he had done throughout the whole event. So, what are the key takeaways from this final debate and the Low-Code Marathon as a whole?
Low-Code Marathon Takeaways
For me, the takeaways come into three clear categories. Firstly, that low-code technology is an evolution in technology that will have a significant impact. Secondly, that the pace of innovation and change in business will increase steeply as the so-called ‘citizen developer’ takes control. And thirdly, but by no means least in importance, that corporate governance will need to adapt to ensure sustainability amidst all this change.
There has been a steady progression in low-code technology for a long time. The emergence of the PC and desktop spreadsheets was the first move – allowing people to manipulate data that had been accumulated from elsewhere and to perform segmentation and analysis using simple filters and Boolean logic. This trend extended to the point where Excel is a given and nobody thinks twice about extracting information from CRM or ERP and delivering new insights for the business from the Excel analysis. Excel doesn’t equal ‘analytic anarchy’ but it does allow people to do their own thing if they have the data.
Over the past 20 years, low-code has progressed to the now frequent use of in-memory business intelligence (BI) tools and dashboards, initially spearheaded by Qlik. BI and dashboards are now inherent in the design of CRM – Creatio and many others. What’s new at this point in low-code evolutions is a new awareness that governance becomes important and ‘analytic anarchy’ starts to see some corporate control – but more on this a little later.
This is a new term that comes to the market as the evolution of low-code technology moves out of pure analysis and into business processes and the automation of complex algorithms. Today the so-called ‘citizen developer’ is not a member of the IT team and does not report to the CIO in some other capacity. The citizen developer is a member of the marketing team, or sales, or logistics, or fulfilment, or finance, or customer service. It’s someone in your organisation that has a good idea, a concept of better ways of doing things, and also has the low-code tools to turn this idea into a business process. Automation. Fast ways of doing things. Improvements in efficiency. Improvements in the customer experience. Better ways of engaging suppliers. Taking procedures that require manual handling and turning them into a digital process. The citizen developer can be a key driver in digital transformation within your organisation.
It doesn’t stop there of course. The innovation that can be rapidly tested using low-code technology could come from outside your organisation. From a customer, a supplier, a partner, a business analyst report. It could come from anywhere. The trick is to understand the skills you need for citizen developers and the level of corporate control that is involved in allowing them to ‘think outside the box’ (cliché, sorry) in a way that adds value to your digital transformation plans without throwing a spanner in the works. And that brings us to governance.
Early this month, Gartner publish their CIO roadmap strategic cost optimisation. Whilst the report is not focused on low-code, it shows a relevant chart on page 5. It shows that the CIO clearly has responsibility for providing infrastructure and operations for the organisation, and that procurement and vendor management fall under the CIO remit. But for me, the interesting part is that it shows the CIO role in application leadership. The report suggests that the CIO provides input and helps craft plans, together with the data and analytics team, and integrates this across multiple channels to deliver insights about progress against the plan.
This is the very essence of corporate governance in the world of low-code and citizen developers. Everyone has a part to play as I mentioned earlier. But this part must contribute to the overall digital transformation strategy of the organisation as a whole. In my opinion, the definition of corporate governance in this context will vary from one business to another, but the ethos should always be the same. To encourage and enhance the creative talent of your teams, to empower them to prove concepts with low-code technology, but to ensure that initiatives are not anarchic and not counterproductive to the overall plan.
If you would like advice or assistance as you plan your move into low-code technology, then get in touch. We’d be delighted to help you.
This article was originally posted on Alan Joenn’s LinkedIn and can be found here.
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