With the technological evolution we’ve witnessed over the past decades, one could think that, by now, we would have a more elegant solution to solve the integration problem. But the reality is that integrations continue to be one of the most challenging areas of application development.
And there are several reasons for that.
First and foremost, most applications in your stack were not designed to stick together by default. Long gone are the times when a company relied only on one software vendor to deal with most of their business areas. Plus, vendor APIs vary significantly, which means developers need to have several considerations in mind when crafting application integrations.
Then, your applications, data sources, and even requirements are constantly evolving and changing. So, you may have an integration that meets 100% of the needs of your business at that particular moment. But over time, that will less likely be the case. Eventually, you’ll have to change it, which is no easy task, and until you do it, you’re adding up to your technical debt.
Now, when there’s a market need, there tends to be a solution that claims to solve that problem. Any teleshopping program that’s on at 4 AM can prove this theory. For integrations, several no-code and low-code vendors claim to simplify application integration in a way that even business users can do it.
But is this realistic? Is low-code up to the integration challenge? That’s exactly what we went to find out in our webinar How to Speed Development of the Most Complex Integrations with Intellyx President and industry analyst Jason Bloomberg.
Low-Code Integrations: Myth or Fact?
Fact: low-code technology has matured over the last years, and today there are several platforms that have improved the integration experience for developers.
Myth: no-code and low-code integration tools don’t require specialized expertise and can be autonomously used by business users (or citizen developers) to build their own integrations.
For full disclosure, that can be true to some extent; there are, indeed, easy-to-use no-code tools where users can easily hook up one app to the other. Zapier is a great example of that. But that’s only applicable to a small subset of the enterprise. An organization’s landscape and its integration needs are typically more complex than connecting Asana to a spreadsheet. They have to deal with large legacy technology and work in hybrid environments with on-premise and cloud, so it’ goes way beyond connecting A to B.
That being said, low-code platforms can chip in this complexity, but they are no magic wand that anyone can use. They still require coding expertise, whether it’s actually hand-coding or the knowledge and experience of people who understand the broader context of integration, including security and compliance issues, and that know how to deal with change over time.
The Role of Low-Code Platforms in Enterprise Integrations
As we’ve talked about, applications and requirements are constantly changing. But while these imperatives to change keep on growing, the windows for change are shrinking. This puts organizations in a position where they need to support high levels of agility.
From an integration perspective, the key is for development teams to embrace a full lifecycle approach where they plan ahead, acknowledging that requirements will change and where the work doesn’t end once the integration is deployed. Developers need to continue to manage the integration, update it, revise it, and go through another iteration to make changes or add to it.
Of course, this approach is hardly achievable with traditional development, particularly in a time when organizations are pressured to innovate but can hardly keep the light on with their existing development resources, what’s more, changing hundreds or thousands of applications as requirements evolve.
That’s why they need a technology that not only deals with the design time and connecting things up before they run them but also deals with the runtime, post-deployment phase. That’s the role low-code can fulfill in the enterprise integrations context.
The more advanced low-code platforms aren’t just a pre-deployment tool. They’re more of a full life cycle platform that, thanks to their visual interface, foster collaboration and communication among the technical folks and the business, stakeholder-oriented people, allowing these two groups to work through the application integration requirements on an ongoing basis.
While at the same time, it lightens up the load on professional development teams so that they can be assigned to more impactful projects while dealing with large numbers of applications in a more lightweight fashion.
Now, this is just a quick overview of our webinar How to Speed Development of the Most Complex Integrations. To learn how low-code can help you address complex integration scenarios and, particularly, how OutSystems capabilities can help you adjust and rethink integrations in the modern world, join Jason Bloomberg for the full conversation.