Low-Code Development Platforms

Low-code development platforms are visual-based, integrated development environments (IDEs) comprising many of the same tools and functionality developers and IT teams use separately to design, code, deploy, and manage an application portfolio. As with any product, low-code application development platforms vary greatly in terms of the developer experience and functionality.

Since Forrester’s early coining of the term “low-code” in their New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications report, other leading analyst firms have covered low-code vendors under various names and acronyms. MADP and hpaPaas are a couple of examples. And while there are more than 100 vendors now claiming to reside in the “low-code platform” space, not all low-code platforms are created equally.

What Can You Build With a Low-Code Application Development Platform?

Internal Applications

Take advantage of the power of low-code application development platforms to create modern, beautiful business applications that employees will actually enjoy. Contemporary design templates, coupled with an intuitive low-code visual design interface, make application development easy for professional and citizen developers alike. Unlock additional value from existing systems and data through new mobile and web interfaces that help enforce business processes and improve efficiency across the enterprise. Automate manual tasks and replace the proliferation of Excel and Access solutions that are the inevitable consequence of shadow IT.

Digital Customer and Field Applications

When organizations want to add new channels to attract and retain customers, great user experience is critical to the adoption of mobile and web applications. With a low-code platform, you can design immersive front end UIs that highlight your brand’s design elements while incorporating best practices for accessibility and usability, on and offline availability, responsive design, scalability, and security. For IT teams, a low-code application development platform can simplify testing, make integration with device capabilities or third-party APIs a snap, and significantly improve iterative feedback and testing to support continuous software delivery.

Legacy Replacement and Modernization

The pressure to innovate or risk disruption from more modern and agile competitors is tremendous. Low-code application development platforms give IT the in-house capabilities to modernize legacy ERP, CRM, and other core systems without impacting day-to-day business and without locking into yet another vendor’s proprietary solution. Incorporating the latest technology for microservices-based architecture and containers and harnessing team-based DevOps approaches to digital service delivery, IT can replace or modernize legacy systems as necessary, without sacrificing availability, scalability, or functionality.

Types of Low-Code Platforms

Enterprise Low-Code vs. Niche Platforms

Niche platforms claiming to be “low-code” are designed to satisfy a strict business need, such as business process management (BPM), case management, and even customer relations management (CRM). Some have been around as long as true low-code development platforms. However, given the recent meteoric success of low-code, many now find it profitable to recast themselves as low-code development platforms. For these offerings, low-code is a feature, not a definition of what the tool offers. They can claim to be low-code thanks to a scaled-down visual development IDE allowing for the creation of apps that work within the software’s own framework and architecture to make up its inherent limitations. They are purpose-built for a narrow use case and often good at what they were built for; but, they won’t satisfy the full enterprise suite of use-cases for digital transformation.

Enterprise Low-Code vs. No-Code 

No-code platforms also fall into the “niche” category due to their limited ability to satisfy the full enterprise spectrum of use-cases. No-code platforms are designed entirely with the citizen developer in mind. Citizen developers are technically-minded IT personnel not classically trained as professional developers, but who have the tacit blessing from IT to develop new applications that serve the business; usually for internal use. Simpler to use than a low-code platform geared for the enterprise? Yes. But, they are extremely limited when it’s time to develop custom applications. Many organization that invest in no-code platforms get pushback from professional developers due to the inherent customization limitations enforced by no-code architectures.

Enterprise Low-Code vs. Bi-Modal

Innovation-focused tools are better suited for organizations operating in a bi-modal environment. Bi-modal teams’ innovation projects are focused almost exclusively on the front-end, hoping to layer new functionality on top of existing systems rather than modernizing core systems simultaneously and without (hopefully) impacting performance and delivery. While bi-modal IT tools may satisfy short-term innovation goals, as the organization grows and needs change, these solutions will not keep up with the enterprise’s growing digital delivery requirements.

Enterprise Low-Code: In a Class by Itself

Take the limitations of niche and no-code platforms and turn them into capabilities instead, and you’ll have a low-code platform worthy of the label “enterprise-class.” Does every organization need an enterprise-level product? Probably not. But before deciding on one or the other, it helps to know where the business is now, where it’s going, and what tools will get it there--hopefully without having to switch vendors and start over in the process.

Benefits of Low-Code Development Platforms

Unbeatable Speed

Visual-based, full-stack development bridges the chasm between traditional SDLC processes and modern DevOps. Dramatically increase IT collaboration, resulting in faster time to market and significantly shortened iterative update cycles. 

Integrate With Everything

Enterprise-class applications and systems development made simple. Integrate with industry-standard protocols, API implementation using REST and SOAP web services, and third-party business tools like SAP and SFDC. BYO tools and templates or use OutSystems. Either way, developers can build amazing things.

Great CX by Default

Deliver consistently impressive user experiences—regardless of platform or channel—for brilliant overall customer experiences (CX). Professional and citizen developers can design from scratch, customize a pre-built design template, or import an existing design, all without compromising performance or functionality.

Modern Architecture

Advanced design and architecture that takes advantage of microservices and containers provide the flexibility to start small and scale up and across without impacting performance or forcing compromises on governance and transparency.

Bullet-Proof Security

More than just “recommended” precautions, enforced security technologies, processes, and audit trails exceed the strict requirements for public and private-sector security regardless of the hosting solution.

Unbreakable Deployment

Rest easy with pre-deployment impact assessments that account for the entire portfolio of applications, along with simplified staging across environments. Should something not work as expected, easily roll back changes with a single click.

Data-Driven Decisions

Intuitive dashboards offer real-time insights into the health and usage of every deployed application, giving teams the feedback necessary to make strategic decisions about resources and availability.

Sensible Governance

Multi-team development initiatives require constant communication and open, but controlled, access to systems and resources. Implement agile, continuous integration and development without sacrificing visibility or control.

The Low-Code Market

Industry analysts categorize low-code platforms many different ways.

But for low-code platforms that address the enterprise market, Gartner and Forrester offer the most complete coverage.
See what they say about low-code platform vendors in these complimentary reports you can download today.

Gartner Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) MQ

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, 2019

Gartner Multiexperience Development Platforms (MXDP) MQ

The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Pros

Low-Code Success Stories


Justin James, Sr. Director (and a developer) at FICO, talks about his early experience with a low-code application development platform.

IT and Business Leaders

When the CIO/CTO of the City of Oakland left the private sector to work in local government, he knew he needed to address challenges around the way applications were developed and the business value being delivered. 

Business Users and Partners

See how Americares uses the speed of low-code to get life-saving medical supplies around the world when and wherever it’s needed.