The New Normal Skills Economy (Part 2): No-Code/Low-Code Platforms Are Democratizing Software Development
Welcome to the age of the citizen developer
As the world hopefully begins to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries (including print) have been greatly impacted. In this series, we will focus on the increasing pace of technology and how certain developments will help print companies overcome the challenges of today and tomorrow. Welcome to The New Normal Skills Economy.
There is a significant software developer shortage. We are not churning out enough qualified software developers during a time when demand grows every day. According to The Wall Street Journal, almost 1 million IT jobs went unfilled in 2020. The paper also reported that 80% of employers see recruiting tech positions as a top business challenge.
There are several theories that try to explain the shortages. According to Thanh Pham, CEO of Saigon Technology, the shortage is not as simple as “there aren’t enough applicants.” In fact, she said that there are twice as many applicants for tech jobs compared to non-tech jobs. Pham posits that the real cause of the shortage is a scarcity of in-demand skills within the talent pool at large, and that some jobs are just very difficult to fill. It is not surprising that it takes 50% more time to fill tech jobs.
The business world is unable to hire enough talent to keep up with their digital transformation journey.
The shortage is a major cause for concern—it is impeding innovation. According to Pham, over 50% of CIOs said that hiring difficulties made it difficult to keep up with the latest technologies. The shortfall also comes with a hefty price tag. According to software development staffing agency, DAXX, the shortage can prevent businesses in the US from realizing $162 billion. By the end of the decade, the developer shortfall can wipe out over $8 trillion in revenue worldwide.
One of the primary drivers of the developer shortage—rapidly evolving technology—can be the force that bails us out of the developer shortage. Software development is so advanced that we can build software that makes it easy enough for anyone to develop their own apps and microservices. Thanks to no-code/low-code solutions, ordinary workers can develop their own tools with very little or no support from the department IT at all. We can relegate development work to non-IT workers. That way, ordinary workers can leverage technology to solve their unique business problems on their own. No-code and low-code solutions empower ordinary workers to be self-reliant, rather than waiting for IT resources to free up. No-code/low-code platforms are not just for those of us who cannot code. Developers use these tools to accelerate their projects.
What Is No-Code/Low-Code and What Is the Difference?
No-code solutions are development platforms that enable users to create applications and microservices without writing any actual code. Users drag-and-drop nodes into a graphical development environment and configure their behavior. Low-code solutions aim to automate repeatable coding tasks, but do not eliminate code from the process. Low-code tools may employ the GUI/WYSIWYG development UI/UX that you will see in no-code platforms, but low-code tools do not eliminate the need to write code entirely.
The Citizen Developer
Citizen developers are non-IT professionals with no programming expertise. These are your accountants or salespeople or analysts or executives—anyone at the company who does not earn their paycheck writing code—who develops their own tools for usage in the business.
We have encountered some no-code/low-code solutions in the document imaging space and see great value in them. For example, we have recently tested Konica Minolta Dispatcher Phoenix, an advanced workflow automation platform that enables users to create fully automated, end-to-end workflows. You can take input from MFPs, scanners, smartphones, websites, e-forms, and other applications; manipulate and process that input; and then send it to where it is needed next. What normally would require hours to days of an IT professional’s time can be handled by citizen developers. Instead of writing a ton of code, you develop your workflows in a graphical development environment.
Democratizing Development with Low-Code/No-Code and Citizen Developers
Thanks to low-code/no-code solutions and the rise of the citizen developer, there is more than one route to developing some sort of tool or piecing together processes that originally went through IT. Anyone who knows how to use a computer and has the patience and interest to learn can develop their own apps. Take me for example. I have an English degree. I have zero coding experience. But in the past year, I have leveraged low-code/no-code solutions to develop an event handler that automates portions of Keypoint Intelligence’s scanner and solutions testing. In another iteration of the universe where no-code/low-code solutions and the concept of a citizen developer doesn’t exist, these tools would never have been built because we would not be able to dedicate the IT resources. But in the age of the citizen developer, everyone is an IT resource.
In the next part of this series, we will explore robotic process automation’s role in the new normal skills economy.
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The New Normal Skills Economy