Low Code Musings

Scott Francis
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John Reynolds recently posted to LinkedIn on the topic of Low Code, and I’ve been meaning to circle back to it ever since.

John starts by quoting Rob Marvin:

“According to research firm Forrester, which coined the term low-code, the driving factor behind the rise of low-code platforms is the pressing need for companies to deliver and adapt high volumes of new apps fast, combined with dwindling developer resources to hand-code the overabundance of new applications.”

But this simply isn’t accurate.  Developer resources aren’t dwindling. There are factually more developers on earth now than at any time in history.  Dramatically more, in fact. 

So what does it mean, “dwindling”?  It means that the demand has grown even faster than the supply of Developers. I’ll note to my friend in journalism and industry, that if cooler heads had prevailed during the early 2000’s, there would be quite a few more developers and computer science graduates at our disposal.  Media coverage of the tech bubble bursting made it sound as if no coding would happen outside of India or China, and as if this was a dead profession.  Indeed, for a while, it was more expensive to hire someone to clean your house or mow your lawn than it was to hire a Java developer in Austin in 2002.

So, while I don’t accept the premise that developer resources are dwindling, I think it is accurate to say that most companies have stripped the cupboard bare with respect to IT competencies, and so they simply don’t have the developer resources in-house. 

John points out another flaw in the assumptions baked into Rob’s article:

“Fallacy: If you make it easy enough for people to build their own applications, they’ll build their own applications.”

I share John’s experience: that most business people don’t really want to build their own apps.  There are exceptions! But for most people, they want a business problem solved, and they’d rather pay for the solution than build it themselves.  It is really one of the key flaws in low-code software approaches in general.

I’ll point out one more flaw: low-code solutions have yet to figure out how to enable a partner ecosystem to make money.  Without that ecosystem, software doesn’t get adopted into the enterprise if it requires customization.