Low-code/no-code platforms for MSPs' in-house, external use
Service providers gain agility and efficiency benefits when using these emerging development platforms, and also land consulting opportunities with clients.
Low-code/no-code platforms for MSPs and systems integrators deliver benefits on multiple fronts.
Presidio, a digital solutions and services provider, provides a case in point. The New York-based company uses these platforms to decentralize software development within their own business operations. Workers throughout the company employ the technology to streamline and automate processes, thus making the company more agile, efficient and responsive, said Mladen Milanovic, vice president of engineering.
Presidio's own technologists tap these platforms to develop products for client organizations in a faster, more collaborative way. "It significantly accelerates our ability to show business outcomes," he said.
And Presidio advises client organizations on how they, too, can use low-code/no-code technologies to advance their digital initiatives and business transformations, Milanovic said.
For Milanovic and his colleagues, low-code/no-code platforms are proving to be significant opportunities to improve and expand their businesses.
"We are looking at this as a huge asset for us to accelerate our business internally and to become much more efficient, which helps us be more competitive on the market. And it has also created a new offering for us: It allows us to offer new consulting services and it allows us to have a faster business impact for our clients," Milanovic said.
There's high demand for low-code development technologies. Gartner, the tech research and advisory firm, calculated that the worldwide market in this space hit $13.8 billion in 2021, up 22.6% over 2020 figures.
Gartner classifies low-code application platforms, intelligent business process management suites, multi-experience development platforms, robotic process automation and citizen automation and development platforms as low-code development technologies.
Interest from business technologists/citizen developers to automate workflows and processes, as well as the needs of business-driven hyperautomation, are among the top drivers of adoption of low-code development technologies, according to Gartner.
Low-code/no-code development platforms simplify software development by incorporating code into building blocks that users can then put together with little or no need for computer programming experience or knowledge. These platforms use visual interfaces and drag-and-drop features that users string together to automate processes and workflows.
Low-code/no-code technology "makes solving problems much more accessible," said Ryan Martin, industrial and manufacturing research director at technology intelligence firm ABI Research, which is headquartered in New York City. "It democratizes the problem-solving process [and] makes solutions-building a modular activity."
That has CIOs, enterprise IT departments and business unit leaders all looking for how they can take advantage of these technologies to quickly automate, modernize and transform, Martin and others said. That enterprise interest, in turn, generates opportunities for MSPs, integrators and consulting firms who can use low-code/no-code in their own development processes and advise clients on how to use the technology.
For example, Atos, a global systems integrator based in Bezons, France, announced in April 2022 a partnership with Mendix, a Siemens-owned maker of a low-code platform, to drive hyperautomation in enterprises. Under the partnership agreement, Atos is licensed to sell the Mendix platform in regions where Atos has a joint business collaboration with Siemens.
Arjan van Gompel, global lead for low-code platforms at Atos, said the partnership is one growth opportunity out of many it sees around such technologies.
Atos teams use low-code platforms to deliver new applications, features and functions for its customers, van Gompel noted. The company also partners with clients to build apps and automate, using their in-house low-code platforms or similar capabilities built into enterprise software from companies such as ServiceNow and Microsoft, he said.
Arjan van GompelGlobal lead for low-code platforms at Atos
"If you look at low code for corporate development, it has everything in the toolbox to build those corporate applications on top of your core systems," van Gompel said.
Low-code/no-code enables teams to develop upwards of 10-times faster compared with traditional software programming, he said. Furthermore, he added, it supports a more iterative development process and more business involvement -- both of which help ensure the final product meets business needs.
Business opportunities with low-code/no-code
Capgemini SE, an IT services and consulting company based in Paris, is also capitalizing on the growing interest in and use of low-code/no-code platforms.
David McIntire, director of Capgemini Americas, said the company advises clients on the selection and implementation of platforms and also uses low-code/no-code technologies to deliver products and services for its customers.
Capgemini has used these platforms to help an industrial conglomerate automate business processes and workflow in accounts payable, inventory management and other back-office functions, he said. The services provider also worked with a U.S. cable company that used a low-code platform to rationalize and modernize capabilities in engineering, customer care and other divisions, as the company pursued a digital transformation strategy. And it fielded inquiries from government agencies interested in deploying these technologies so that its own workers could become citizen developers capable of automating the manual processes within their own jobs.
In addition, McIntire said Capgemini can use low-code technologies to quickly create modular apps for industries and then quickly customize those for customers in a particular sector -- thereby creating another avenue for business opportunities.
"We absolutely see this as a growth opportunity," McIntire added.
KPMG, a professional services firm with U.S. headquarters in New York City, likewise sees opportunities to harness low-code platforms to better serve its clients -- and, in the process, expand its own business offerings, said Gary Plotkin, a partner and leader of the firm's U.S. digital platforms business.
"The way KPMG looks at this is really around speed to market: With these tools we can go quickly from ideation to codification," Plotkin said. "With low-code tools we can drive change in a much more expeditious manner."
KPMG works with clients to use the technologies to accelerate their transformation efforts, he noted. Clients also tap service providers for integration work needed with low-code apps and to establish best practices for using the platforms, he added.
In 2020, KPMG announced a partnership with Unqork, maker of a no-code application platform, with KPMG lending its knowledge and experience in capital markets, banking, insurance and other industries to develop new capabilities. The companies at that time launched a Mortgage Forbearance and Loss Mitigation app developed for Community Preservation Corp., a nonprofit multifamily housing finance company in New York City.
Navigating benefits, drawbacks
Like other service providers, KPMG advises client companies on deploying and using low-code tools. The company helps its clients with platform selection and training, Plotkin said. The firm also helps clients establish the appropriate governance and guardrails, as well as set up centers of excellence -- all aimed at helping clients maximize the benefits of these technologies while limiting potential pitfalls.
As for the latter, Plotkin and other industry executives identified security issues and duplication of effort as among the challenges. Organizations that fail to put in guardrails and a rationalization approach could end up with an unmanageable proliferation of apps and automation initiatives.
"You could be increasing your tech debt if you're not retiring other systems piece by piece," Plotkin said, noting that organizations could also see an increase in technical complexity. "I think that's one of the largest challenges."