4 Low-Code Digital Transformation Strategies for Every Business

Author: Ryan Hammond, VP Customer Success, Appian

As organizations everywhere continue to prioritize digital transformation, the demand for enterprise applications is increasing rapidly. No one has felt this demand more thoroughly than IT leaders and their teams. The average backlog for planned IT projects is between 3 and 12 months, and the volume of new projects is only rising.

However, many IT teams still rely on older technology and practices to meet this challenge. Their tech stacks are full of disparate and disconnected applications that are hard to revise, slowing down software development practices and adding cost. That speed penalty hurts ambitious digital transformation projects.

There’s a better way. Low-code platforms that let developers create software through a visual interface make the process of coding more akin to drawing a workflow diagram. This significantly reduces the complexity and cost of building enterprise applications and streamlining business processes. It also speeds time to build: a 2021 Forrester report found that low-code platforms, which combine low-code tools with a range of automation technologies such as RPA and AI, can improve app development speed by up to 17x.

[ Learn more about low-code’s benefits for digital transformation. Get the eBook: The Low-Code Buyer’s Guide. ]

4 successful low-code digital transformation strategies.

IT leaders can reap major benefits, starting with speed then moving beyond, by applying low-code in strategic ways. Let’s examine four scenarios where low-code could have a significant impact on digital transformation work. Depending on your goals and circumstances, one or more of these strategies could change how you’re able to execute on ambitious digital transformation goals, perhaps around customer experience or time to market.

1. Solve a targeted problem in weeks, not months.

In environments where a single solution can make a big difference, low-code's speed is a powerful draw. Using low-code, companies can deliver and deploy applications in as little as a few weeks. That’s work that would have taken traditional development teams many months. Perhaps the targeted problem is a particular pain point in the customer buying journey, or an internal process where a regular data handoff is slowing teams down.

If you’re just getting started with low-code, how can you prove the speed gains? Pilot projects, often championed by a single, passionate stakeholder, can offer dramatic proof of low-code's power to solve a thorny problem. The project and its internal advocates become effective drivers of more widespread low-code adoption. 

2. Solve several business problems at once.

As many businesses know all too well, tech debt is a cost that just keeps accumulating over time. Leaders must make tough choices, prioritize a few problems, and learn to live with the rest. Low-code can offer a reliable and repeatable routine for rapid app delivery on a continuous basis. So if you have a business unit that can’t seem to get past its tech debt, it’s worth examining how low-code could support a more agile methodology.

In fact, if you’re already using an Agile or DevOps approach, low-code pairs well with them both, helping teams iterate and deploy applications more often, do more frequent testing, get more nuanced feedback, and contribute to more impactful end products. Developers can also securely reuse blocks of code for faster workflows and focus their skills where they’re needed most. 

By leveraging low-code automation, eliminating external dependencies, iterating rapidly, and improving communication, low-code teams composed of just a few individuals can often do the work of much larger teams. That means you can knock out more problems in less time, instead of relegating real issues to the bottom of the priority list.

3. Improve operational efficiency.

Legacy business systems originally designed to improve efficiency have become an impediment for many companies. Why? In these complex systems, data is siloed and difficult to access and tasks are disconnected. Manual processes, where they still exist, exacerbate the problem and cost time and money.

Additional hidden costs show up in the form of subpar customer and employee experiences. Technology that fails to deliver streamlined, helpful interactions from beginning to end is a distraction that breeds negative sentiment about the organization.

Low-code platforms can help eliminate the barriers that legacy systems present, integrating a variety of automation technologies (including RPA and AI) with existing enterprise software. That lets teams connect workflows from end to end and share data wherever it’s needed without migration. 

4. Increase resilience and enable innovation.

For organizations using low-code, resilience is baked in: Process automation with low-code can be quickly modified to address new business rules or changing conditions.

And the value of resiliency is tough to overstate, given the lessons learned during the pandemic. 

To succeed in the digital transformation era, you need to quickly evolve when customer demands and requirements change. But when you’re creating and delivering new offerings that don’t easily conform to established business process models, your organization’s manual tasks, inflexible processes, and complicated business rules get in the way of innovation. They’re not set up to handle unconventional or game-changing product lines.

Launching a new offering can require the production and automation of entirely new functions—an undertaking that could take many months or years using conventional development teams and tools. Low-code radically simplifies and accelerates innovation for companies, helping them beat competitors to market.

When low-code becomes transformative. 

It’s tempting to see low-code as a faster and easier-to-use tool for app creation. To see low-code only in this way, however, is to overlook the transformative effects it can have on businesses. 

Low-code lets teams quickly mold process and workflow automation uniquely to their organization. Compare this to the burden of conforming to the limitations of your legacy systems or accepting the fact that it could take years to address issues with traditional coding methods. In other words, it’s worth considering what entirely new and game-changing technology low-code could open the door to.

[ Which emerging automation trends deserve your attention now? Get the Gartner Hyperautomation 2022 Trends Report. ]

Date: November 18, 2022

Ryan Hammond

VP Customer Success, Appian

Ryan Hammond has been working in the low-code automation industry for more than 20 years. At Appian, Ryan leads the Global Customer Success Management team, helping Appian's customers apply technology to rapidly achieve their goals.

Low-Code Guide

Low-Code development is the way to build apps more quickly by reducing the need to code.