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Why 2021 will be the year of low-code

Companies need to put cloud and low-code projects back at the top of the priority list.


Low-code will make it to the mainstream in 2021 with 75% of development shops adopting this platform, according to Forrester’s 2021 predictions for software development. This shift is due in part to the new working environment and product demands caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Forrester analysts found that “enterprises that embraced low-code platforms, digital process automation, and collaborative work management reacted faster and more effectively than firms relying only on traditional development.” 

SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The report identified these drivers behind the increase in low-code adoption:

  • Large service providers geared up to guide enterprises to effectively embrace these platforms
  • Enterprises and their partners using low-code platforms to deliver mission-critical applications including modernizing old core apps 
  • The first success stories about big citizen developer programs in enterprises beginning to appear. 

As Jonathan Greig wrote on TechRepublic, low-code platforms have become an easy way for non-tech companies to build simple apps and programs that address business pain points. On ZDNet, Joe McKendrick talked with developers to understand some of the benefits of a low-code approach:

  • Making innovation easier
  • Making prototyping easier
  • Taking the drudgery out of programming

San Antonio used a low-code platform to modernize a financial services program that was suddenly in high demand due to the coronavirus.

One drawback to this way of working is the risk of losing the deep expertise and insight required to design applications and systems.

Ongoing adjustments for remote work

Forrester analysts also noted the importance of adjusting communication habits and workflows in the  new year. The report notes that  teams that had already invested in high-trust culture, agile practices, and cloud platforms found it easier to adapt to 100% remote work. Teams that relied on a command-and-control approach to work and older platforms struggled to adjust to this new environment. 

SEE: How low-code programming can help your organization create apps quickly and easily (TechRepublic)

In response to continued remote work through 2021, Forrester analysts recommend that development teams implement collaborative work management (CWM) practices, virtual war rooms, and metrics that foster shared purpose, according to the report. This will require sustained attention and active management to make this happen:

“Keeping developers out of endless virtual meetings while maintaining governance will particularly challenge organizations in regulated industries, and they will embrace value stream management as a way of maintaining data-informed insights and collecting process metrics that enable compliance and governance at scale.”

Modernization efforts slowed during the pandemic, but reviving these projects will be a make-or-break moment for companies, according to Forrester. Companies that fail to push this work back to the top of the priority list “will be at a competitive disadvantage, both to the firms that have already modernized or to technical-debt-free startups.”

The other three trends that Forrester identified are:

  • At least a third of test professionals will use machine learning to improve automated testing
  • Application development and delivery (AD&D) pros will reprioritize or flounder
  • AD&D pros will reach a moment of clarity on service mesh technology

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