By Hardik P Gandhi
It is evident to all by now that businesses seeking to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic age need to deploy digital solutions across all their frontiers. Over the last few decades, automation has played a key role in streamlining processes, maximising revenue, and enhancing productivity for businesses across sectors. For easy-to-solve automation problems, off-the-shelf SaaS products can get the job done in most cases. Complex enterprise problems, however, require solutions that span multiple domains – task management, project management, document management, analytics, bot-based automation, and so on. Addressing such complex problems calls for holistic end-to-end solutions that incorporate and integrates multiple technology components. In other words, automation for automation’s sake alone is no longer enough – as customer expectations evolve, businesses must evolve in tandem, which is where intelligent automation and agile no-code solutions come to the forefront.
Intelligent Automation is defined by Gartner as a collection of technologies that includes business process automation (management of tasks, projects, documents, forms, communications etc), robotic process automation (replacing data-centric human tasks with automation bots), AI/ML (leveraging data to make better decisions and predictions), and advanced analytics (understanding your data better to drive strategy). Intelligent automation solutions go beyond simple business process management, helping drive higher efficiency and better decision making. Businesses of all sizes that aspire to become more efficient, drive faster growth or better compliance and consumer experience are looking to intelligent automation as the way forward – and many of them, instead of partnering with an external development team, are building their own automation using no-code solutions.
How no-code automation accelerates business growth
The low-code/no-code market is anticipated to be worth $15 billion by 2021. With the need for manual coding eliminated and product deployment speeded up, businesses are rapidly moving towards a ‘citizen developer’ framework, wherein their own product and process experts construct solutions using a no-code platform. No-code, in fact, is the option of choice for 79% of companies with high digital maturity, be it for starting new initiatives from scratch or speeding up stalled work-in-progress. Here’s how it impacts growth.
Ease of use
Picking the right technology components for every part of the process automation requires developers to write code in different languages and frame-works, often requiring developers with very specific skill sets. It takes thousands of lines of code to construct even a simple solution, and a single error anywhere could lead to major glitches. With a no-code solution, however, the business only needs to define a flow, construct a layout and add components via drag and drop. This gets the job done in a fraction of the time and much more efficiently.
For businesses with small budgets, hiring a top-notch development team is often unaffordable. There are also communication hurdles that often occur with external service providers, as well as disagreements about the coding language to be used and how a final solution looks versus how it was intended to look. With a no-code automation solution, the businesses can develop their own processes and solutions and implement them sooner, thus bringing down time-to-market and overcoming technical skill gaps.
Justifying any complex automation initiative requires a return on investment calculation with the projected cost savings or additional revenue growth on one end, and the cost of development, maintenance, and change management for the tools at the other end. With traditional development methodology, the time, effort and money involved are so considerable as to not be worth the outcome. With no-code solutions, however, the business can benefit from all that automation has to offer without the hefty price tag or time commitment. Not only are the solutions competitively priced, but the business can also save on the cost of hiring developers by letting their own in-house process experts do the job.
Enabling non-developer entrepreneurs
Many businesses have excellent product ideas and a sound picture in their head of how the product will look on the consumer side. What they lack is the technical know-how to code their product into existence, which deters many entrepreneurs from taking that step. By investing in a no-code solution, this hurdle can be overcome, making it easier for many more talented entrepreneurs to enter the market. With rapid prototyping capabilities, it becomes very easy to build minimal viable products to test out business models and user acceptance, and then keep evolving the product to add more features and functionality over time.
As the world changes rapidly, those who cannot keep pace with it will inevitably get left behind. Low-code and no-code automation solutions fill the gap between skilled business analysts and product designers and the complexities of coding, allowing businesses to build their own end-to-end comprehensive solutions without worrying about technical expertise. It is important to remember, however, that highly specific feature or use-case requirements still merit the involvement of a developer team. For most start-ups today, the priority is not to tweak a product to perfection but to get a minimum viable product (MVP) out to the market and make changes later as customer feedback comes in. For a fast evolving business, a building-block based approach to putting together applications fast, and evolving them rapidly is the need of the hour.
The author is CEO of ZVOLV. Views expressed are personal.