"Digital transformation” is a term we’ve heard so often that its meaning has become vague. This is in part because each organization’s digital transformation path is unique.

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There are crucial commonalities, however. Digital transformation means modernizing key technologies to enable innovation, drive fundamental change, leading to higher efficiency and greater business agility — and ultimately, unlocking value for employees, customers, and shareholders. This type of transformation is urgent as nimble competitors rise quickly to challenge established models.

As such, all digital transformation efforts have three characteristics in common:

  • Increased agility
  • Greater collaboration between business and IT
  • Accelerated innovation cycles.

Low-code application development is a key component to delivering these very benefits.

The Role of Low-Code in Digital Transformation

Low-code is a software development approach where applications are developed in a graphical interface. Rather than writing thousands of lines of complex code and syntax, low-code developers drag and drop visual models to create complete applications with modern user interfaces, integrations, data, and logic.

low-code-vs-no-code-graphic-1

Low-code as well as no-code tools have raised in popularity as a way to empower 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.

By removing all the complexity from software development, they allow organizations to accelerate the development of simple departmental applications, while relieving the backlog of IT so they can focus on more impactful initiatives.

However, for more complex use cases, those that involve dynamic, scalable enterprise apps -- the ones that provide true transformation -- most low-code solutions are not up for the challenge.

That’s where the most advanced breed of low-code platforms come in: high-performance low-code.

Why Stretch for High Performance in Your Digital Transformation?

High-performance low-code development is an approach to creating software with radical productivity and exceptional app experiences for a continuously evolving world.

While low-code is a growing software development approach for creating basic, one-off apps, high-performance low-code blends power and speed with security and scale. It allows IT leaders and developers to build, deploy, and manage applications that can transform their businesses.

The results? Improved agility, collaboration, and speed:

  • Greater agility. Thanks to its low-code capabilities, organizations can quickly pivot and deliver new solutions in response to market changes. Because building the application is fast, development teams can present a working prototype for business feedback quickly, potentially saving weeks or months of back-and-forth. Because dev teams don’t have to write every single line of code, they can change applications in real time in response to competition, economics, disruption, or the emergence of new opportunities — adapting much faster than when using traditional development.
  • Increased collaboration between business and IT. Using a visual programming approach empowers business and other stakeholders to be a part of the app development process. The result enables organizations to capitalize successfully on both developer knowledge and business expertise. By fusing experts from business and IT to collaborate on new applications, organizations can leverage the diverse knowledge and skills they possess.
  • Faster innovation and time to market. Low-code software development is up to 10 times faster than traditional methods, according to Forrester. This maximizes developer productivity and empowers organizations to do more with the same resources — which is particularly important in a time of high development demand and developer shortage. High-performance low-code platforms like OutSystems provide drag-and-drop visual models to create complete applications with modern user interfaces, integrations, data, and logic. The result? Organizations get apps into production faster. In addition, low-code delivers speed and simplicity, so junior developers and tech enthusiasts without a strong development background can build apps as if they were full-stack developers. Similarly, skilled developers can focus on more creative, less mundane aspects of programming.

Where High-Performance Low-Code Excels

High-performance low-code application development platforms like OutSystems can enable your teams to produce robust, enterprise-grade applications of any type in a rapid, cost-effective manner. Here are three common areas in which low-code excels:

  1. Customer Apps and Portals: High-quality customer-facing apps improve customer experience, and with low-code, you can build scalable, secure, pixel-perfect apps and customer web portals for consumers, agents, and partners at the speed of your needs, customized to your unique reality. Use cases include new customer onboarding and acquisition, customer self-service, new digital services, and vendor management.
  2. Internal Business Applications: Unlock your unique organization’s full potential and improve employee productivity with low-code. You can build tailor-made internal business apps for any department without constraints to create a modern, automated, and interconnected internal app ecosystem — all to overcome legacy app shortcomings and drive greater efficiency.
  3. Core Systems: Leverage low-code to modernize and develop core systems tailored to your exact business needs, whether a customized ERP, a built-to-purpose CRM or API-enabled service — without the time and expense of traditional development or the vendor lock-in and inflexibility of commercial off-the-shelf solutions.

Low-Code Digital Transformation in Action: Three Case Studies

Need some inspiration? These recipients of OutSystems 2022 Innovation Awards represent the best of the best. Here’s how they have successfully used low-code to accelerate digital transformation at their organizations:

Western Union

Western Union operates in the increasingly competitive, rapidly changing payments sector, where new fintech players are changing how the market operates. To remain agile and innovative, Western Union directed its digital transformation toward building new digital banking products. Faced with numerous applications to deliver, the need to rapidly iterate customer experiences, and the steep learning curve for new Cloud DevOps toolchains, Western Union decided to leverage low-code across its entire IT stack — front-end, integration, and back-end core systems.

The OutSystems platform was able to support not only the robust, secure, and global-scale digital banking app required of a trusted financial services organization, but also the rapid iteration necessary. The result? A full-service digital banking experience, including a multicurrency bank account combined with money transfers, debit cards, and more — from concept to production in 2 countries in a stunning 11 months. 

WU+ mobile app. 

Gen Re: A Team Approach to Accelerating Digital Transformation

Like many established insurance organizations, leading reinsurer Gen Re had built out a complex IT architecture over the years — including custom-developed and packaged software applications that simply couldn’t deliver the agility it needed to deploy increasingly strategic, internal, and customer-facing systems quickly enough to stay ahead of the curve. The company needed a platform that would let it modernize at scale and chose low-code for its ability to support agile development with rapid iteration and continuous feedback from users — without worrying about proprietary technology lock-in.

Gen Re created a low-code development team by cross-training existing developers and recruiting additional talent. The team spent the first three months defining a reference architecture and establishing a foundation of reusable modules for authentication, file storage, and integrations. This initial stage supercharged the development cycle, so much so that the team delivered 30 enterprise-grade applications in just nine months. With the team reaching its racing stride, the company now has a roadmap to tackle modernization of several critical core systems — reducing the technical debt accumulated over time and delivering applications in weeks rather than months or years.

Gen Re’s contract dashboard and requisition dashboard.

Boston Scientific: Digital Innovation to Support Better Healthcare

Can low-code support mission-critical healthcare applications requiring resilience, performance, data security, and compliance with privacy regulations? Boston Scientific’s experience with OutSystems has shown that it can. The worldwide provider of medical devices and innovative medical solutions has a dedicated healthcare solutions and partnerships (HS&P) team charged with developing flexible, data-driven solutions with leading healthcare institutions to improve patient care while lowering costs. Such innovation is highly collaborative, working in long-term partnerships with customers to develop solutions that are differentiated and tailored to their needs – the ideal use case for low-code.

Leveraging the OutSystems platform, the HS&P team developed Clearpath, which helps multidisciplinary teams of doctors, nurses, and clinical technicians collaborate more quickly, cost-efficiently, and safely at every step. A crucial aspect of Clearpath’s success is the ability of the HS&P team to quickly configure and integrate the solution for different hospitals and therapies, expanding far beyond its initial use to support patients’ clinical history review, care, and monitoring through complex pathways, including specific heart procedures, implants, and (soon) cancer treatments.

Clearpath app.

High-Performance Low-Code Digital Transformation: What Will You Build?

As you can see, there’s really no limit to what high-performance low-code application development can deliver — faster, more flexibly, and more collaboratively than traditional methods. The truth is, however, that not all low-code platforms are the same.

Choosing the right technology for your organization starts with understanding the critical differences between high-performance and ‘regular’ low-code platforms. We designed the OutSystems Low-Code Academy to help IT leaders and their teams learn all the skills necessary to capitalize on high-performance development. It’s a great first step in your journey to accelerating digital transformation.

To learn more about high-performance low-code and building high-performance development teams, visit OutSystems Low-Code Academy.