Chris Huntingford, Director of Digital Innovation at digital transformation company ANS, discusses why SMEs should be adopting low code to boost efficiency and become competitive in the market
In the past, SMEs have struggled to harness the power of new technology to achieve their goals. Without dedicated specialist in house IT teams and large budgets, it simply has not been an option. But low code is now levelling out the playing field. Using low code can allow SMEs to build out software solutions without the need for specialised IT professionals. This means that SMEs can take advantage of tech democratisation and digital adoption, so they’re now capable of being more competitive with larger organisations than they ever have been before.
So, what is low code?
Low code is a modular approach to software development and solution building that is already revolutionising the way businesses develop applications and drive innovation. It is a way of developing solutions and applications that use pre-built software modules, so you don’t need coding skills or IT expertise to be able to build the software that you need. The visual and user-friendly platform also offers templates and drag-and-drop functionalities. This enables better collaboration, accelerated transformation, and increased efficiency. Low code software is often already available for SMBs to use within their existing business applications, for example Copilot being included in Power Platform.
The emergence of low code in businesses
Low code has emerged as a tool for enabling innovation and development in a cost-effective manner. By eliminating the need for costly in-house IT expertise, low code removes barriers to developing technology solutions.
SMBs now have a fantastic opportunity to become more competitive by adopting low code. However, almost half of SMEs are still not embracing it. With tech continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, there needs to be a wider adoption of low code across the industry to overcome the barriers that used to hold SMEs back.
What are the benefits?
- Innovate faster
Low code is becoming increasingly relevant for SMEs. It allows business professionals to experiment with digital transformation solutions, deliver solutions faster and drive innovation. Low code means that businesses don’t need to develop new code from scratch, so can access a level of innovation and digital transformation previously reserved for large enterprises. SMEs no longer need to rely on manual or outdated systems, as low code helps to modernise legacy systems that no longer align with today’s fast-paced business landscape.
- Anyone can use it
The minimal coding required makes it accessible to a wide range of users, you don’t need to be a techie. This means SMEs can modernise their processes while simultaneously minimising risk as the prebuilt modules are already tried and tested. Companies without a dedicated in-house coding specialist can benefit from digital transformation solutions, without needing to fork out to outsource their coding and development.
- Keeping up with the market
With the technological and business advantages that low code brings, organisations can address rapidly changing market needs. This agility means that SMEs using low code can get into markets faster and better compete with larger companies and remain relevant.
Why should SMEs adopt low code?
The drag-and-drop components in low code platforms allow users, both technical and non-technical, to visually construct applications by simply dragging pre-built elements onto a canvas or with the release of Microsoft’s Copilot, makers can use natural language prompts to create useful solutions. This increases the rate at which applications can be built. By utilising the drag-and-drop capabilities, low code allows SMEs to create simple and sophisticated applications to meet their specific needs, such as workflow automation, that they may have previously lacked money and resources to do so.
Low code helps SMEs to innovate cost effectively, enabling them to build new products and services that meet the needs of customers, which were previously challenging to implement. With low code, SMEs can use applications like Power Pages to design and develop their websites, which previously required a skilled web developer.
With Low Code, it’s now much easier for SMEs to compete against companies with deep tech resources. This facilitates rapid technological advancements, making developments more accessible for all businesses, no matter their size, levelling out the playing field.
- Minimal training
The graphical user interfaces (GUIs) used by low code platforms are significantly less complex to learn than traditional coding. Less time spent training is therefore required as makers don’t need a comprehensive understanding of how to code. This takes away the requirements of users to learn programming language and write code. However, if the makers want to write code, they are more than able to switch to a high code interface.
- Strategic focus
As low code can complete time consuming tasks such as data entry, organisations that use low code can shift their focus to more strategic tasks placing more emphasis on innovation and creativity. For example, finance teams can shift from data reconciliation to in-depth financial analysis to drive further insights to better inform financial decisions.
Low code also frees up costs. SMEs no longer need to decide between not having advanced capabilities or paying large amounts for code developers. Organisations can now have the best of both worlds, rapid innovative applications at a low price, freeing up costs to be invested in other areas of business.
With the ability to customise solutions and tailor them to SME’s unique demands, low code platforms are flexible. This enables businesses to create targeted applications of varying complexity that are designed to meet specific requirements.
For instance, a retail SME could use low code to develop a tailored inventory management system. This could automate restocking processes and optimise supply chain operations to ensure that products are consistently in stock to meet customer demands. By aligning technology to specific needs, businesses can enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experience, and unlock new growth opportunities.
Low code can rapidly create a variety of applications so businesses can quickly add new features and stay up to date.
Time to embrace
To unlock the immense potential of low code for SMEs, we must educate people on the simplicity and potential of low code. We must make sure they are not put off by misconceptions of complexity.
For SMEs, low code offers a pathway to rapidly accelerate innovation in line with business ambitions, on par with larger enterprises with greater resources. To make the most of low code’s capabilities, SMEs should have a crystal-clear vision of their software solution objectives. With well-defined goals for digital transformation, SMBs can harness the speed and simplicity of low code to propel their innovation efforts forward at pace.