IT tends to be skeptical of no-code, and for fully legitimate reasons.
Outside of the fact that some IT professionals see no-code initiatives as but thinly veiled, shortsighted attempts to replace enterprise developers, enterprise no-code deployments can create more hidden costs than the promised value. Sometimes business teams use no-code to go “behind IT’s back,” which creates security and governance risks, and ends up creating more custodial work for IT than if they’d been the ones to custom build tools for the business in the first place—because the business always needs IT to fix the issues that inevitably arise when implementing technology.
But IT’s skepticism of no-code in such instances is really a skepticism of bad no-code use—not of the technology itself.
No-code is not a vehicle for replacing developers. It’s not a vehicle for going around IT’s back, either. In fact, when used correctly, no-code can provide IT tons of value. It can even elevate IT from custodians of technological implementation to architects of technological strategy—freeing developers to spend exponentially more time and energy on initiatives that make fuller, more efficient use of their unique talents and abilities.
When it’s used the right way, IT should love no-code. Here’s why.
The modern IT department has a tough job. It needs to preserve the integrity (and compliance) of the tech stack and of company data, but it also needs to enable the business to operate efficiently and creatively across functions and processes.
The problem is, today, IT lacks either the resources or the bandwidth to do the latter effectively. The options at their disposal remain limited. When the business needs a solution to a business problem, for example, IT has two options: either 1) buy for the business packaged, task-specific apps; or 2) develop custom solutions themselves. Both options are costly and inadequate. Purchased apps don’t always solve the process challenges they’re requested for, because they’re too functionally specific. And custom solutions can take 6–9 months (or more) to build, and require long-term maintenance after deployment — which, as we’ve written about before, is a big expenditure of IT time and energy.
That’s where no-code comes in. Used correctly, it affords IT a third and exponentially more efficient option for enabling the business.
Certain no-code platforms, like Tonkean, for example, allow IT to provide the business a scalable structure for creating their own workflow solutions, complete with IT-created integrations that allow the business to safely and easily plug into the tech stack. Tonkean empowers IT to effectively establish the parameters in which the business composes their own tools.
Tonkean does this specifically via a capability we call Enterprise Components, which we designed to empower IT to deliver both out-of-the-box and custom-defined reusable building blocks which the business can use—as often as they need—to compose their own custom workflows. These building blocks can facilitate integrations to thousands of enterprise systems; extend custom applications; process unstructured data using NLP and OCR; facilitate people coordination, and more. They allow a way for IT to extend capabilities that normally require custom coding with a dedicated development team to more areas of the business—all while maintaining security and compliance.
This kind of enablement increases by an order of magnitude what the average enterprise is able to accomplish.
It’s also what elevates IT to strategic architects, by enabling IT to focus more completely on initiatives that will truly move the needle, such as process orchestration, new value creation, and optimizing operational design in ways that bridge the technology gaps and solve Last Mile delivery problems that many in the enterprise have written off as operational costs of scale—rather than on technological support, or on cleaning up shadow IT.
According to federal employment data analyzed by IT trade group CompTIA, over the first half of 2019, U.S. employers reported about 918,000 unfilled IT jobs. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, a whopping 79% of CEOs were at the time concerned about the availability of developer talent.
And of course, things have only gotten worse and more concerning since the pandemic. Codingame, a training and recruitment platform for developers, found in a recent survey that 64% of companies worldwide have ambitions of hiring developers in quantities of 50 or more over the course of 2021. But the supply of talented software developers hasn’t kept pace with rising demand. “It’s taking longer, it’s harder and we’re finding fewer qualified applicants to fill those positions,” said Keyur Ajmera, vice president of infrastructure shared services with iCIMS, a talent cloud company, apropos of the developer shortage, in a statement to CNBC. The pool of qualified developers simply remains small.
The danger for companies in all this is clear. Running shorthanded from a developmental standpoint causes companies to operate less effectively, with less agility, and with larger ledgers of operational debt. Developers already on staff, meanwhile, find themselves forced to take on more work, often of the support-focused, custodial variety. The developer shortage further compromises IT’s ability to do the job described above. But it pulls them most emphatically away from creating new value in the form of innovation and product creation, and forces them to spend more time building, implementing, managing, or fixing apps to support and enable the business.
No-code, however, in the way it supplements IT’s ability to enable the business, helps developers get more out of less. How, exactly, can no-code do this? In just one example, let’s go back to the building blocks a platform like Tonkean empowers IT to create in enabling the business. These in a way are what we now think of as APIs—only, they’re modular, and reusable. (Inside Tonkean, business users can pick and choose from them as their self-designed workflow and automation solutions demand.) This means that IT no longer needs to build or buy a new app for every individual business need. In practice, this can reduce the time-to-delivery for projects that would normally take “several months of custom development end-to-end with quality testing,” as Chris Giddings, Sr. Solutions Architect & Innovation Lead at EVERSANA and an avid Tonkean user, has told us, “to just a few weeks.”
That’s time-saving on a game-changing scale. It frees IT from what has become a huge drain on its time and energy, which is the task of both manually enabling the business and, at the same time, monitoring their work to ensure they’re not creating things like shadow IT. In turn, it enables IT to focus on more valuable initiatives, such as delivering on SLAs.
As the demand for software becomes more prevalent across every business and every function, developers will see their role evolve from implementers to architects, supported by enterprise no-code platforms. This is not a bad thing. It’s the next critical evolution of the role of the enterprise developer.
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