The democratization of software with low-code/no-code platforms

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Low-code / no-code platforms provide enterprise agility, faster development times and faster business results — and that’s the focus of the latest Transform Technology Summit. And automation, the promise of low code for creators and the creation of great products, was the focus of the chat with Airtable co-founder Andrew Ofstad and Zapier product manager Chris Geoghegan, “How Zapier Uses Airtable to Transform Product Development & Deliver Great Customer Experiences.”

“We all know in the industry how difficult it is to find developers to build software solutions to run our teams,” said Airtable co-founder Andrew Ofstad. “No-code lets anyone build compelling software solutions without having to be a developer or rely on IT. There is the shortage, the gap in the market that tools without code help to fill. ”

Airtable, the platform used by Netflix for marketing, by Intuit for research and insight, and by A&E for content planning, lets teams build their own workflows and modernize their business processes without code.

“We founded the company with the belief that the people who do the work within companies should be the ones who build and configure their software, not programmers, and not that their work should be dictated around hard-coded software,” Ofstad explained. “The focus for us has been how to make these software concepts easy for the end users of the company to lower this floor so that everyone can have the strength that many of us in Silicon Valley have as developers and let someone build their own software. ? ”

Zapier is a no-code platform for automating work by connecting more than 3,000 apps and services in automated workflows. Launched in 2011, they have grown to support more than 3,000 apps on their platform, including Salesforce, Google, and Airtable.

“No code and low code are relatively new terms, but the problems these tools solve are not new,” Geoghegan said. “Being able to provide people with simple tools that did not require a lot of technical knowledge meant that they had the building blocks to create a workflow or process that was important to their business, and sometimes even an entire business. Ultimately, this team allows you to move faster. It lets them innovate. Putting power in the hands of these people on the front lines facing these problems – we believe this is where innovation best takes place. ”

Ofstad also points out that the person who knows best how the software should work and how it should be used in their team is the person on that team — not a developer for a third-party company or anyone in the IT department. This is because too much can be lost in the translation between the business side and the technical side. Another benefit is agility when the team that owns the software can customize it to suit their needs on the go.

“They can constantly innovate and repeat their processes as business conditions or as their mandates change,” he explained. “They can quickly change the software to adapt to the way new processes work and move faster and innovate more in their business than they would be able to with a team of developers they had to go through or an IT department that often has a large backlog. ”

Low code / no code and industry trends

The pandemic shook most industries and awakened them to the need to go digital first, spanning industries from media and entertainment to health and fitness, commerce and more. Because of this, launching a new company can cost far less with a much wider reach – but also a larger competitive field on a global scale.

“With this shift, there is a constant need for innovation,” Ofstad said. “You compete against so many players in this global space that you constantly have to innovate to stay alive. It has driven the need for digital products and software and solutions that allow you to move faster and coordinate on a larger scale with your teams. ”

In addition, the massive, accelerated digital transformation companies that are going through today mean that more and more knowledge work revolves around software for teams, and it has become a huge component in how companies innovate and win. Knowledge workers are growing smarter than ever on software and adopting more products in their workplace at a higher level of sophistication.

Ofstad points out the shift in how companies like Zapier and Airtable also think about this problem. Great efforts have been made to simplify complex processes – in Zapier’s case integration between services and trigger action workflows and broader workflows in business and for Airtable, the software application stack for building team workflows – and making it easy for users to leverage while software creation is simplified.

Geoghegan also explained that the pandemic has created a perfect storm for low-code to democratize software development so that people, regardless of their role or their background, can solve the problems that lie right in front of them. The pandemic is also causing people to take a deeper look at how technology is changing the way they work.

“Companies are changing as a result of COVID,” he said. “It has given us all this collective moment to rethink how we build the companies we build. During this time we have seen how quickly changes can happen. Sometimes during the pandemic it was week-to-week. Low-code platforms allowed us all to be more responsive to change, regardless of your role. ”

The future of low code

“I think the next generation of founders and business owners are not going to be people with lots of engineering experience,” Ofstadt said. “They will probably be teachers who build software for teachers, marketers who build software for marketers. We’re going to see a really exciting innovation come out of it. ”

There will also be a greater diversity of people and ideas represented in technology to build the next generation of businesses. He predicts that we will shift from the typical business package with Powerpoint, Excel, Word and more to something like Zapier, Airtable and Webflow that will be highlighted as part of people’s skills in the future.

“I would just love to see more and more of these creative and ambitious systems thinkers being empowered to build within their businesses without having to do the all-out job of writing a lot of code and having studied computer science for four years and so on, Said Geoghegan. “I would love to see more CVs that have Airtable and Zapier as top knowledge, not just the Microsoft Office suite. I am super excited to see a new generation of people create with these tools. It is the most satisfying part of working with a product like this. ”

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