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There’s no question that there’s a dearth of technical talent: Tech leaders and experts are constantly decrying the situation and warning of dire long-term results. At the same time, becoming a developer takes important training, not to mention general interest in, and inclination to, the discipline. 

The emerging solution to these swirling factors (according to some, at least): Drag-and-drop no-code tools that enable users with no technical knowledge whatsoever to design and quickly deliver custom apps. 

“No-code is an amazing way to accelerate automation inside your organization,” said Katherine Kostereva, CEO of no-code platform Creatio

To foster more widespread no-code use, Creatio today announced the vendor-agnostic “No-Code Playbook,” co-authored by Kostereva and product management expert Burley Kawasaki. The company will officially release the playbook in a live event today (at 10 a.m. ET) featuring a discussion with Silicon Valley pioneer Steve Wozniak.

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“We wrote the book to address the unique nature of no-code development so that organizations can maximize their business outcomes while adopting it,” said Kostereva. 

Demand for apps, but not enough developers

According to Grid Dynamics, the world is currently short 40 million skilled tech workers. The staff augmentation firm estimates that dearth to exceed 85 million by 2030. 

Similarly, in a survey of more than 1,000 C-suite executives conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Stripe2, 61% said they believed access to developer talent is a threat to the success of their business — an even bigger threat than lack of access to capital. Furthermore, the survey found that developers spend 42% of their time maintaining and debugging existing code, further reducing their ability to put energy into sources of new software innovation or differentiation.

These factors have led to an explosion in the number of no-code tools like Creatio’s: According to Emergen Research, the global no-code development platforms market size was $12.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $68.1 billion by 2028, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 24%. 

Big players including Microsoft and Salesforce offer no-code platforms; other, more specialized companies vying in the space include Appy Pie, Quickbase, Zoho, Airtable and AppSheet.

No-code, explained

With no-code tools, work is initially done “under the hood,” so to speak, by traditional developers, explained Kostereva. 

Down the line, non-developers can participate in the application development process through visual drag-and-drop tools. Users compose the forms, workflows and data needed to build an application without needing to understand a programming language or having formal software development training. 

The benefits? Apps are faster to start and finish, alignment is improved and agility is increased, according to Kostereva. 

Ultimately, she compared the level of no-code disruption to the introduction of cloud computing in the early 2010s. 

Millions of knowledge workers around the world — in sales, marketing, production or finance, for example — are leveraging no-code, thus decreasing dependency on technical resources, she said.

“Digital transformation is at the forefront of the C-suite agenda, and enterprises around the globe are seeking new ways to keep up with business automation demands,” said Kostereva. “The no-code approach enables organizations to significantly accelerate time-to-market and increase alignment between business and IT.” 

But first, debunking myths

Much as there is much excitement around no-code — and the lauding of its benefits — there are misperceptions, too. 

Most notably, said Kostereva: No-code can’t be used in large organizations. But “this is a stereotype, a myth.”

While it is most definitely helpful for small organizations in areas of website creation and approval processes, she said there are many examples of larger organizations using no-code to automate very complex workflows. 

“Not all mission-critical scenarios demand professional developers,” wrote Kostereva and Kawasaki. “An application’s level of business criticality has more to do with the selection of the business process and domain.”

Another concern is that no-code tooling will put software developers out of work. “This is definitely so far from being true,” she said. There is already a much-lamented shortage; this will help augment developers’ work and close talent gaps. 

There is also the inaccurate misperception that no-code is different from low-code, which does require at least some coding knowledge. No-code doesn’t require any, and it can be used alongside low-code tools and traditional coding. 

“You can very, very quickly change your workflow automation,” said Kostereva. 

Whereas traditional development might take years, no-code can push out applications almost immediately. 

“That’s the value that we wanted to bring to the world — explain that you can do it really fast,” she said. “We see how much value no-code brings to people and organizations. The whole idea is to explain how to use no-code tech correctly to automate processes.”

No-code in use

“The No-Code Playbook” is focused on enterprise automation, explained Kostereva. While there are many no-code tools for simple processes, real disruption comes with large organizations that have sophisticated demands. 

“They get a lot of value of no-code as a methodology,” she said. 

The book emphasizes design, go-live and everyday delivery and is based on three principles: 

  • Use no-code to gather requirements and prototype on the fly.
  • Everything that can be developed with no-code, should be developed with no-code. Or, as Kostereva emphasized: “Don’t custom code, do it with no-code.”
  • Deliver to end-users as fast as you can. 

The no-code lifecycle

The book includes a step-by-step description of the no-code lifecycle: “design,” “go live” and “everyday delivery.” It also helps organizations apply the right deployment strategy. These include: 

  • Do-it-yourself: The simplest delivery model, where primary roles of the no-code project are contained within a team sitting inside a single business unit.
  • Center of excellence: Typically owned and led by a single overall cross-functional leader. Skilled knowledge workers are missioned with maximizing efficiency through consistent definition and adoption of best practices across the organization.
  • Fusion-team delivery: A multidisciplinary team where members from the business side collaborate with IT. Typically, this model is used when there are greater technical requirements and complexity requiring software developers to build some components of no-code applications. 

Also included in the playbook are several tools for assessing application complexity; there is also a no-code governance model and description of no-code project roles. 

Kostereva underscored the fact that the book is vendor agnostic. The ultimate goals are to advance the industry, standardize best practices and increase the adoption of no-code technologies across midsize and enterprise-level organizations.

“We are truly passionate about creating a community around no-code,” she said. 

The electronic version of the book will be available on Amazon and via the Creatio website; the printed version will be available later this year.

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