Rethinking Company Software – again!

Or why the future of company software is “No-Code”

The coronavirus crisis has shown just how much of a difference great company internal software set-ups can make. Having employee workflows laid out digitally, making data and information remotely accessible and being able to interact, edit and effectively work with company information decides between companies success, survival or failure. That’s not new. What’s new is that this kind of company software is beginning to experience a major shift in terms of customisability, speed and cost with the rise of “no-code”.

Actually, no-code is not a new concept. Software systems like WordPress have been using visual set-ups for years. A user setting up a webpage with WordPress requires no actual coding skills but only needs to work with graphical user interfaces (GUI) to achieve custom results. Over the last years more tools appeared embracing a no-code philosophy for creating mobile apps (e.g. glideapps), e-commerce platforms (e.g. shopify) or admin tools (e.g. retool). And this change in philosophy is not stopping there.

There is a new paradigm of company internal software starting to happen with the rise of no-code. This is not just about creating the next CRM, CMS or ERP with a prettier set-up. It’s about changing the way we set-up these applications, reducing programming time and knowledge-gaps about how company systems work. And we want to be a part of it.

Back to the basics

The question of how one creates software that improves companies efficiency, makes jobs easier, faster and ultimately saves costs has been around for decades. I can’t even count how many times I was asked whether it makes more sense to write custom internal business software or use existing tools – and justifiably so!

Already in 1998 Thomas H. Davenport recognized that the implementation of business software often leaves companies with systems that impose their own logic on the business instead of the other way around.

T.H. Davenport further recognized that the root cause of these unsuccessful implementations is typically a lack of managerial involvement in the software development process. Developers get sent off with a set of requirements, they build it with their own ideas in mind creating something completely different than management envisioned.

“Ultimately the company is failing to reconcile the technological imperatives of the enterprise system with the business needs of the enterprise itself”.

To some extent this issue was helped with the advent of agile. Faster review cycles and a focus on the purpose of the tool instead of the initial specifications go a long way.

What no-code can do for us

No-code technology is the software solution for tackling this issue at the root. Non-programmers (e.g. managers) can set-up applications all by themselves without the need for a programmer. This effectively means general managers could solve the problems of their teams by creating workflows and securely sharing information – without no-code.

By using an entirely visual set-up optimized for non-programmers no-code can massively reduce the cost of creating custom internal software by saving on development time, finding skilled programmers, and the need to communicate e.g. sales, marketing, accounting requirements to the software team.

In the case of the YouTube SEO company Tubics the customer relationship management team repeatedly faced the need to switch clients accounts to a different email-address while deciding which channel connection, which payment plan and which tool customizations to keep. This should be solved fast, the solution needed to be simple, also not requiring SQL know-how. Our no-code tool Harmony ContentBase has managed to solve this within an hour.

A New Paradigm

The new paradigm of no-code applications has started. They provide the ability to create custom software applications that previously required programming. Switching from programming with code to visually building software applications, so that:

  1. Everyone can set-up the required applications
  2. The team can handle that application easily (and even enjoy using it!)
  3. The company is reducing knowledge boundaries between teams and developers

For webpages and e-commerce platforms it’s already becoming the new standard. For now this means we’ll sometimes have to limit functionalities for the goal of creating lovable applications (see point 2 above). However, no-code has gone a long way and more is to come. Limited now doesn’t mean we can only create Webpages anymore. Today it means mobile apps, admin tools and ecommerce platforms. Tomorrow it will mean entire business internal applications, such as HarmonyCB that is soon starting its Beta.

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