Low code offers a glimmer of hope for paying off technical debt

Technology /

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Dive Brief:

  • Companies spend an average of 40% of their IT budget maintaining and updating existing software, according to a new Forrester report commissioned by no-code PaaS company Unqork.
  • Many enterprises are adopting low-code technology platforms to reduce the time and money spent servicing technical debt, according to the report, which surveyed 312 application development and delivery decision-makers. Nearly half use a combination of declarative low-code tooling and hand coding, but 42% still rely exclusively on custom coding.
  • Despite the efficiency advantages of limiting new code, nearly two-thirds of respondents said their companies can’t meet development needs without hand coding, and 62% are too busy updating legacy software to adopt low-code alternatives.

Dive Insight:

Technical debt accumulates as today’s shiny new software innovations age into tomorrow’s legacy applications, in need of security patches and updates.

No-code solutions — modular application development platforms that eliminate the need for hand coding — promise to reduce technical debt, while also opening the creation process to staff outside of IT.

Reducing custom coding drove 3 in 5 respondents to adopt codeless solutions. Freeing coding professionals to focus on higher-priority projects and ensuring nontechnical employees can develop and maintain apps were also high on the list.

While respondents’ companies haven’t yet made the transition to codeless architecture, 70% say it’s critical to do so in the future.

The market for low-code technologies is on a steep growth trajectory, according to Gartner. It is projected to total $27 billion in 2023, up almost 20% from last year. Low-code application platforms, which include no-code solutions that require only declarative text instructions for app building, account for nearly one-third of the total market and are expected to generate 25% more revenue than last year.

While commonly grouped together, the distinction between low-code and codeless technologies is significant, according to Forrester analyst Jessica D’Oliveira.

“No-code is within low-code from an enterprise perspective,” D’Oliveira said. “But no-code refers to systems where you do not inject code.”

Most no-code platforms allow for some hand-tooled coding. But each new line of code adds technical debt.

Codeless platforms provide users with prebuilt components, widgets and services that can be configured without scripting to create an app,” Jason Wong, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, told CIO Dive.

“Anytime you add customizations via scripting and programming, you introduce technical debut into a low-code or no-code platform,” Wong said.

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