Main image of article Building No- and Low-Code Tools into Your Workflow

The idea of “citizen developers” with little coding experience using no- and low-code platforms to build apps isn’t a new concept; for many years, companies like Microsoft have released tools designed to empower pretty much anyone to produce mobile apps, games, and more.

While the idea of democratizing app-building is appealing to many, IT specialists and cybersecurity experts have long feared the not-so-controlled chaos that no- and low-code platforms could unleash within an organization with no guardrails in place. The advent of generative A.I. may only heighten these fears, especially if employees rely on A.I. tools from outside their company’s sanctioned tech stack to build things (a trend cheekily known as ‘Bring Your Own Artificial Intelligence,’ or BYOAI).

But the fact is, no- and low-code tools will likely become more powerful in the years ahead, and companies will just need to deal with that. Meanwhile, for tech pros and others out there who want to build apps with a minimum of code tinkering, here are some current options, along with ways to integrate them into your workflow.

No Coding Knowledge? No Problem!

In case you’re unfamiliar with no- and low-code platforms, the concept is a simple one: these tools rely on visual interfaces, drag-and-drop functionality, and pre-built components to streamline the development process. For example, you could create a mobile app by dragging a few visual elements into place, then selecting where you want any information inputted into the app’s front end to flow.

Here are some current options:

  • Microsoft Power Apps: Power Apps offers a user-friendly interface for building mobile and web applications.
  • Mendix: A low-code option that leverages AI, cloud integration, and more.
  • Zoho Creator: Zoho Creator offers a wide range of pre-built integrations and functionalities.
  • Appian: A low-code platform aimed at the enterprise.
  • Bubble: Bubble enables designing and building applications with a focus on UI/UX.

Building No- and Low-Code Tools into Your Workflow

If you’re a “citizen developer,” here's how you can integrate these tools into your workflow:

  • Rapid Prototyping: You can quickly throw together a rough example of a mobile app or other asset, often with the same ease as drawing something on a screen. From there, you can either try to build the product yourself, or show it to a development team as an example of your current thinking.
  • Automate Faster: Build simple automations using LC/NC platforms. This can include data migration, report generation, or basic workflow management tools.
  • Focus on Complexities: By handing off certain tasks to these tools, you can dedicate your time to more intricate projects.

But keep these downsides in mind:

  • Security Concerns: Applications built with limited coding knowledge might be more susceptible to security vulnerabilities. Work with your cybersecurity team to ensure you’re not violating any protocols.
  • Limited Functionality: These tools won’t allow you to create a massive product overnight; they’re much more suited for smaller projects such as relatively simple mobile apps. Keep that in mind as you’re ideating what to use these tools for.
  • Data Integrity: Improper data management by citizen developers can lead to data integrity issues. Make sure your data governance policies are firmly in place before engaging in any kind of database usage via an app-builder.

The Bottom Line

By leveraging these platforms strategically, you can speed up your workflows and engage more creatively with your job. The advent of AI will make these tools more powerful; as long as you pay attention to your company’s cybersecurity and data governance protocols, you can do quite a bit with a no- or low-code tool in a relatively limited amount of time.