Q&A: Low-Code With Impact’s Director of Solutions Architecture
A low-code development app is a tool with which you can create software without extensive knowledge or expertise of coding.
Using a simple visual interface, users can make apps by dragging and dropping, lowering the bar for who can develop business software.
Because of this, we’ve seen a huge increase in interest in low-code, with SMBs in particular utilizing these apps more and more.
Today, we’re sitting down with our very own low-code maestro, Impact Director of Solutions Architecture Jon Evans.
Jon has been driving Impact’s low-code efforts with our partner, Mendix, bringing our clients they software solutions they need more quickly and efficiently than previously possible.
How much change in the low-code app development industry have you seen over the last year?
“Well, there’s two kinds of engagements that typically come our way.
The first kind is where we’re being tasked with making an app that changes the entire business model of an organization.
The second kind is often a smaller, more specific line-of-business app to target a singular issue.
“If you look at business specific periodicals that deal with business process management or document management, I guarantee you that they’ve all published low-code articles”
From that side of things, I actually don’t imagine the market will change all that much in terms of people’s needs.
For me, the thing that’s really changing is the information about the industry—that’s the most dynamic part.
If you look at business specific periodicals that deal with business process management or document management, I guarantee you that they’ve all published low-code articles.
It’s definitely picking up momentum as people get more accustomed to it and that’s been really interesting to watch over the last year.”
What are the most common problems that you address with low-code app development?
“It’s interesting because the frameworks themselves can make almost any web-based applications.
With something as nebulous as that, it’s a blank canvas for us. At a certain point it becomes about disqualifying things as much as qualifying them.
When we have conversations with clients about their motivation for wanting a custom app, we often look at off-the-shelf options first in case there isn’t already a perfectly good solution they can utilize.
We spend a lot of time really trying to drive home the purpose of low-code apps and what it means for your business and what it can do for you.
From there, we often find that the opportunities that get the most traction are the ones where we’re helping define a new business model or extending an existing business model for a customer.
That means we’re providing an application that doesn’t already exist or, if it does, is too difficult to implement efficiently.”
What kind of apps do people ask for?
“For a lot of people, they’re looking for purely operational applications for things that are for very specific business concerns.
Then there’s a substantial amount of people who are trying to present interesting experiences to their customers.
For example, you’ll have people needing an app for data collection where they can alleviate the need to do data aggregation and manipulation downstream.
So, you might have a bunch of people that are entering timesheets manually and sending them to you and then you’re spending time reconciling all of that data.
Instead, there’s an app where you can punch in that data directly and it’ll come far quicker than transposing, from a data entry perspective.”
What do your clients typically have in common?
“It takes vision and understanding of how to put something like that out from just being an idea into actualizing it”
“Our most successful clients have all had leadership that understood how to drive technology into an organization.
It’s not a standard model where you get buy-in from a department head from an ROI perspective.
It’s more about people being able to see long-term and having them understand that by implementing a custom app they can potentially open up other opportunities for themselves.
For example, building an app that gives them access to a previously inaccessible marketplace or using a custom app to cut down on expenditure for a data collection problem.
It takes vision and understanding of how to put something like that out from just being an idea into actualizing it as a program which can be a difficult journey.”
What do low-code clients look like?
“It’s not uncommon to find a client that has spent $250,000 on developing an app and not getting anywhere with it”
“They have an idea or have even already gone down the road of trying a full-spec development on it but have struggled with the time and huge costs.
So, with many projects, we’re correcting those issues when they come to us.
There’s an understanding that the client has already sunk an enormous amount of resources into the app and it hasn’t gotten to where it needs to be.
It’s not uncommon to find a client that has spent $250,000 on developing an app and not getting anywhere with it—so we find ourselves in these types of positions where we’re extremely conscious of the client’s investment.
Then of course, there’s other types of engagements where customers want a quick, affordable solution to an everyday issue.
These aren’t necessarily super exciting but getting the low-code perspective on it and getting them up to speed on the process is part of what we do.”
Is the lack of knowledge about low-code app development a barrier or benefit for you?
“It’s an advantage in many ways. We’ll often be talking to a client about low-code and see their eyes light up.
Particularly when we’re talking about how quickly you can deliver the software they need.
Sometimes it takes some effort to get people to understand the technology.
Explaining that low-code doesn’t mean any less complexity or sophistication or fewer features or functions. But once we’ve got that across there is definitely a point where people get it.”
What’s your outlook for 2020?
“Very positive. The demand for the kinds of applications we can make with low-code is continuing to grow.
That space where people want software solutions but struggle with traditional app development is still there, which is really helping the low-code approach.
People are definitely seeing it as a more viable route to improving their business, and I see that aspect growing in 2020.”
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