The low-code market is not only growing fast, but it's also changing as it becomes mainstream. According to the recent Everest Group PEAK Matrix, low-code development is expected to grow at a rate of 24-26% in the next couple of years. And Gartner tells us that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies. Just a few years ago, that percentage was 65%.

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Why the Sudden Rise in Low-Code Adoption?

In just the past few years, changes in customer expectations and the normalization of remote and hybrid work have resulted in:

  • The pressure to deliver more apps with greater sophistication
  • The need to deliver those apps at a higher speed
  • An increase in IT backlogs
  • A developer talent drought that is only getting worse.

And low-code technology is a perfect fit to help organizations surpass those challenges, because it:

  • Accelerates software development thanks to drag-and-drop functionality, pre-built user interfaces, and models for business processes, logic, and data—in fact, 76% of low-code customers say they go live in less than 6 months (in Everest Group PEAK Matrix).
  • Supports reusability and component-based architecture, increasing developer productivity and enabling organizations to embrace what Gartner calls the “composable enterprise”.
  • In some instances, it empowers citizen developers to build departmental apps critical for their daily tasks, relieving some of the burden on IT.
  • Promotes IT and business collaboration because the visual programming capabilities bolster greater agility.

Is it any wonder that the low-code market has really heated up?

Low-code platforms are not a new technology; OutSystems, for example, was founded in 2001. But over the past few years, we’ve witnessed an increasing demand for this type of technology. For example, from 2016 to 2018, the number of low-code vendors increased from 40 to 60. Today, according to several sources, the number is more than 200.

For organizations to reap the benefits of low-code platforms, however, they need to select the right vendor, one that can act as a true digital transformation partner and empower businesses to innovate as the market demands.

But making that selection can be pretty daunting. Low-code capabilities can vary widely.

Understanding the Low-Code Market Landscape

Just like any other technology, not all low-code platforms are created equal, and as such, not all are suitable for the same use cases.

If you’re currently evaluating low-code for a certain project, it’s helpful to understand the low-code landscape based on 3 criteria:

  • Who is the targeted user of the platform?
  • What functions and features does the platform include?
  • What use cases does the platform cover?

With that in mind, the low-code market can be grouped into three main categories:

  • 1. Low-code for simple departmental apps
  • 2. Enterprise level low-code that solves complex workflows
  • 3. High-performance low-code for business-critical and customer-facing applications.

1. Low-Code for Simple, Departmental Apps

Low-code platforms designed to meet departmental-level needs are usually super easy to use. The goal is for business users or citizen developers—in other words, users with no development background—to create the applications they need to use daily.

These tools are often categorized as no-code, offering the opportunity to build simple applications completely visually without needing any programming knowledge. Personally, I’m not sure low-code and no-code should even be in the same bucket, but I’ll leave that to another article.

2. Enterprise Low-Code for Complex Workflows

Low-code that focuses on process automation has more bells and whistles than low-code for simple apps. It solves the need, at the enterprise level, to digitalize workflows, from business processes to case management.

In other words, these platforms are perfect for addressing anything that can be solved with automation and workflows, from an expense approval process to claims handling to shipping and distribution. Unfortunately, not everything can be solved with workflows. So for use cases related to customer experience requiring more personalization, these platforms tend to fall short.

3. High-Performance Low-Code

High-performance low-code focuses on making the development process more efficient so that dev teams can create serious apps that are future-proof and that evolve and change as the business and the market demand. It offers the high-performance, end-to-end development needed to deliver unique, complex apps fast.

High-performance low-code platforms like OutSystems are not strictly pure low-code tools like the other two categories. You can absolutely create departmental and process automation solutions with it; in fact, that’s a great way to get started with OutSystems. But this development technology is designed to enable dev teams to build solutions that solve their biggest business challenges.

These kinds of challenges might involve several apps, intelligently automating multiple business processes, and even building a core business system. High-performance low-code covers broader use cases, such as advanced UI/UX, extreme performance even with a million simultaneous users, and AI/ML models, just to name a few.

It also focuses on improving the developer experience, blending power and speed with security and scale:

  • AI-assisted development capabilities support the work of developers by suggesting what to do next, empowering them to use best practices, and reducing the risk of human error.
  • A mature marketplace offers developers high-quality reusable, open code modules, connectors, and UI components to speed up their app delivery time.
  • An active developer community brings developers together where they share knowledge and help other users find solutions.
  • A solid partnership ecosystem ensures that every organization achieves success.

How Does High-Performance Low-Code Differ from Regular Low-Code?

I’ve recently published a couple of articles comparing high-performance low-code and regular low-code considering two main concerns that IT managers usually have about low-code: vendor lock-in and security.

So, for this article, I’m going one level up and comparing the two broader development areas:

Low-code vs High-Performance Low-Code 

So, What’s the Right Low-Code Platform For You?

This categorization doesn’t mean that there are good and bad low-code platforms; it always depends on your needs.

If you just want to empower your line of business to build simple apps, the first category is enough. But if you're looking for a technology that supports your digital transformation initiatives, you should look for high-performance low-code.

Also, don’t rush into anything. It's always possible that someone will want to make that simple app or automated process available worldwide, which makes high-performance low-code a safe bet.

Go Beyond Low-Code; Go High-Performance Low-Code

OutSystems is the high-performance low-code platform. Our solution provides a level of abstraction not just to the development phase through visual programming but also to the full CI/CD cycle. Thanks to AI and automation, your teams can accelerate development exponentially by automating those tasks that consume valuable development time.

With Outsystems, developers deliver serious applications with serious productivity fast–the kind that eliminates waste and overhead so professional developers can get on with the creative business of designing and deploying uniqueness.

In fact, we’re the leading leader of the Everest Group PEAK Matrix with the highest score for user interface–both end-user and developer experience–and integrations.

If you want to explore our platform, I invite you to visit our platform page or watch our on-demand demo.