Today’s workforce comprises of two distinct groups, the pre-internet generation and the not-so-new digital natives. From millennials onwards, they have grown up in a world where the internet has penetrated every corner of life, from work to home.
As a result of our new connected lives, we can – and do – expect everything at a more convenient rate. Ask a taxi company for a food delivery or an Amazon bookseller for a new mop, and they will provide.
Thanks to the world going remote in 2020, most generations have caught up to the digital native way of working. Meaning more people than ever rely on apps and software to connect to each other.
So what opportunities lie within these cultural and economic changes? The opportunity – and therefore the challenge – is building software fast enough to keep up with the rate of demand.
The most legitimate solution we see is to empower businesses to build their own software without the need for developers.
To achieve this, a lot of software is working towards standardization, a process that will allow apps to communicate with fewer ‘steps’. In turn, standardization opens up the next opportunity: mass adoption of low code development.
Standardization means businesses don’t always need the flexibility afforded by computer science level coding languages. Instead, non-technical individuals can build powerful apps with low code using tools such as Microsoft’s Power Platform.
With low code, the gap between ideation and delivery is much smaller. These tools operate with a ‘drag and drop’ interface, meaning deductive and logical reasoning skills are the primary requirement, not syntax and science.
To break it down, to meet the high demand for software:
Organizations across the world are catching on and developing their own low code platforms like Google’s Flutter Flow and our favorite, Microsoft’s Power Platform.
We recently worked with a real estate brand, held back by a slow turnover of employees’ request documents; everything from pay slips to holiday documents and HR requests.
The business document contained Arabic and English text, making them too complex for any off-the-shelf solution to prepare. The complex Arabic and English processing also meant a lot of manual copy and pasting, leaving room for human error.
Previously an employee would send an email, the recipient would process it in bulk with other requests at the end of the week, sign it, and finally send it back via email. This process could take a week or more.
So we thought, how can we make the process faster and more accurate?
The company used Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. So, we created new standardized documents in Word that could be stored in the cloud to be accessed and read by computers but were still easy to complete for staff. We then built an automation engine to process the documents within Dynamics 365.
The entire process is triggered by the employees’ email, meaning there was no required change to their behavior. And as a result, approvals went from taking a week, to just 15-20 minutes.
This sounds complex but we didn’t use a single programming language like Java or Python. All we used was the drag and drop flow-maker in Microsoft’s Power Platform.
When we train businesses to use Power Platform, we start with a real problem and we recommend you start this way too.
We teach them how to traverse the low code space while assessing their intuitive reasoning skills surrounding process flows. Then we dive into a 3 or 4-day training program that centers on solving their real business needs & honing those reasoning skills.
For example, we regularly build automated email flows to shorten admin tasks. To do so, we start by simply showing them how to send an email in Power Platform.
Once they are comfortable, we’ll step it up a notch and ask them to create a system that sends the email to inbox ‘A’ if the temperature outside is above 30 degrees and inbox ‘B’ if it’s below. (You can see where we’re going with this.)
We will gradually make the question more complex and remove support until they are building apps like a pro.
Typically we work with IT and finance managers or business analysts. Not developers.
This is because Power Platform holds the most potential for those with vertical-specific knowledge. If they understand the immediate problem, they can be more creative in its solution, and that’s what this is all about.
The biggest challenge long term to using Power Platform is, ironically, consistent use. You need to regularly flex your deductive reasoning skills to build confidence and keep them sharp.
Power Platform can connect to Dynamics 365 and thousands of servers and databases that are not all in the Microsoft ecosystem. Meaning there are endless workflows and solutions you can build and optimize with minimal technical training and guidance.
If you can change an individual’s mindset to see themselves as a “technical person”, they will be amazed at what is possible.
Data engineering is everywhere. You would be hard-pressed to find an organization that it is not right for. Even restaurants are automating their tablespaces and stock levels. All low code applications really do is remove the barrier to entry when it comes to this level of data utilization.
To be successful with low code, you need deductive thinking and the right mindset. With those two in place, anyone in your organization, in any department, can build time and money-saving apps.
Interested in how low code can start solving your business needs? At InTWO we work with companies to create their own low code apps. Chat with us and we will see if we can turn your team into connectivity wizards.