Enterprises have been focusing on digital transformation for several years now – long enough to realize that such change is more about how they meet customer needs than the enabling technology that supports such change.

We say that digital transformation is customer-centered and technology-empowered – but such empowerment comes at a price. More often than not, technology is more a hindrance than a help, especially for more complex, strategic transformation initiatives.


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From legacy technical debt to cybersecurity vulnerabilities to the shortage of skilled technical personnel, senior executives are more concerned with technology’s limitations than its ability to empower the change they are looking for.

Such challenges are the most obvious when they concern the applications companies want to put in front of their customers. Applications are the glue that holds the digital transformation initiative together, empowering organizations to better meet changing customer needs over time.

To address this challenge, a new generation of low-code application development tools has exploded onto the scene, with the promise of empowering both professional developers and a range of non-technical business people (the so-called citizen developers) to collaborate on building the applications companies require for their digital transformation efforts.

Many low-code tools on the market, however, aren’t up to this challenge, as they focus on simpler, departmental applications instead of the dynamic, scalable enterprise apps that drive digital transformation.

What these organizations need is high-performance low-code, which – rises to modern enterprise challenges by accelerating developer productivity, promoting elite-level CI/CD, and empowering teams to deliver unique, high-value, complex apps fast.

From Low-Code to Enterprise Low-Code

Several low-code platforms have moved well beyond supporting the creation of simple departmental applications, a trend we call enterprise low-code.

Enterprise low-code platforms and tools offer capabilities centering on integration, security, and regulatory compliance. These are essential capabilities for focusing on the software needs of large organizations beyond simple departmental applications.

True enterprise low-code players must also support the broader architectural context of complex enterprise applications that may span multiple teams working on multiple parts of the application at once.

On the one hand, these enterprise-class capabilities require more technical expertise than citizen developers are likely to possess (although there are exceptions, of course). But on the other hand, such capabilities also require active collaboration with the IT organization. Even the simplest no-code platform requires some support from IT.

In the case of enterprise-class features, the IT organization should have an active, ongoing role in supporting the low-code efforts – even when building applications that require no coding at all. Support from the IT organization is important, not only to ensure compliance with security and compliance policies, but also to avoid shadow IT problems.

Shadow IT – running departmental applications off the radar of IT – has been the bane of earlier low-code technologies like Lotus Notes from the 1990s. Such apps were notorious for their security holes, compliance issues, quality challenges, and the unmanaged proliferation of redundant applications across the organization.

Enterprise low-code addresses these shadow IT issues – but even so, it still leaves organizations wanting more as they attempt to scale applications across the enterprise.

Contrasting High-Performance Low-Code with Enterprise Low-Code

The rapid maturation of cloud-native technologies and practices has given enterprise low-code platforms better ways of achieving enterprise-class scale while supporting rapid development of multiple applications in parallel.

High-performance low-code platforms leverage these technologies, including the Kubernetes container orchestration platform, along with the entire Kubernetes ecosystem of open source and commercial infrastructure components, all running in hybrid multi-cloud environments.

From the perspective of the application creators, however, these underlying infrastructure details are hidden from view. What matters to them is the scale, productivity, and rapid change benefits that impact the creation and management of applications using low-code.

The productivity benefits of high-performance low-code are twofold. First, the modular, containerized approach to application creation speeds up the work of developers, enabling them to make more progress on application creation and modification tasks in a given amount of time, even when working in parallel.

Secondly, application creators can tackle more complex applications than they might have with enterprise low-code approaches. As a result, they can clear out the organization’s application backlog more quickly, resolving both simpler and more complex application requirements more efficiently.

In particular, high-performance low-code is well-suited for building applications with large numbers of users, for example, enterprise-class, consumer-facing applications. To address the fluid nature of these customers’ needs and expectations, applications must support variable, changing interfaces and business logic – tasks only high-performance low-code can enable without bogging down the effort.

Enterprise-class, consumer-facing applications also require innovating ahead of customer demand – a riskier endeavor involving rapid development and even faster reworking of applications on the fly. A high-performance low-code platform is ideal for supporting such ongoing innovation.

The Intellyx Take

Broadly speaking, high-performance low-code platforms like OutSystems empower enterprise application teams to participate fully in modern application development practices.

Application creators are better able to focus on strategic applications that meet diverse, dynamic business needs, even for the largest organizations.

Creating such applications is an iterative process that follows modern development practices like CI/CD and GitOps, thus empowering organizations to ‘future-proof’ their applications.

Finally, high-performance low-code also delivers the essential capabilities of enterprise low-code, including enterprise-grade security and compliance, integration across the entire hybrid multicloud landscape – but now, at Internet scale and velocity.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. OutSystems is an Intellyx customer. Intellyx retains final editorial control of this article.