While the low code platforms have been around for quite some time , lately they have been getting a lot of traction; potentially because of the recent launch of platforms like MS Power Automate and then a recent announcement on AWS launching Honeycode.
For now, lets focus on what exactly is Low Code and how is it different from the widely used erstwhile tools. People have been using a number of Process/ Enterprise Architecture Design tools to document the process workflow and in most cases people would relate to Workflow Management tools which are primarily used to automate orchestration of manual tasks. To simplify this, think of scenarios where you need to obtain multiple chain of approvals to accomplish the broader objective.
This was followed by RPA, technology used to mimic human actions on the underlying systems. Without getting lot of merits which RPA brings to the table, the issue came with the resilience of the systems, agility in building automation solutions and dearth of core RPA skills in the market.
This led to the evolution of the API driven , IDE rich, user friendly platforms. To keep it brief the core features of any Low Code platform are as follows:
a) Ease of Development / Speed: With the intent of driving citizen development, Low Code platforms are being provided with ready to use drag and drop kind of connectors which can reduce the painful coding process involved in building automations
b) API/ Connectors Driven: This is one of the key aspects on which most of the Low Code platforms are competing these days. and also one of the reasons why platforms like Power Automate is witness 3 digit growth lately. With more ready-made APIs/Integrations/Connectors available the business users do not need spend long hours to perform basic integrations with the commonly used underlying platforms
c) Orchestration of the IA spectrum: This, to me, is the most powerful aspect of Low Code platforms. This can be imagined as Workflow Management with underlying actions performed using any of the Intelligent Automation (IA) enablers (like OCR, AI, ML etc.). These tools provide user the complete flexibility with leveraging any of the best in class technologies available in the market to fulfill a particular activity in the workflow
To put it more crudely, assume a process has 4 steps - A, B, C and D and the business user chooses a Low Code platform to orchestrate the above activities.
The above diagram highlights the flexibility with which these Low Code platforms can be used
d) Cost: One of the other major drivers for Low Code adoption is low cost. There are many options to choose from with costs ranging from 0 to 1000s of dollars depending on the organization needs
Some of the commonly called out Low Code platforms in the market are Power Automate, Appian, Pega, Camunda, Outsystems, Mendix etc. Magic Quadrant from Gartner as below: