Why no-code platforms are key digital transformation tools rather than a shadow IT nightmare

Why no-code platforms are key digital transformation tools rather than a shadow IT nightmare Chris Obdam is founder and CEO of Betty Blocks, a no-code application development platform. Born a programmer, but an internet entrepreneur for the past 15 years, Obdam started Betty Blocks in classic startup style in 2012 with his brother Tim in their parents’ garage. Today the company employs more than 180 people in 3 countries and is still rapidly expanding. Chris’ vision? To make building business applications possible for everyone - no coding skills required!

Thanks to digital transformation, every enterprise today is a software company – whether or not they’re in the business of application development. The need for software hits an organisation from all sides and is so explosive that it can no longer be contained by IT departments. The evolving digital needs of consumers are just the tip of the iceberg. Internal processes like workflow and administrative applications can’t be forgotten in the race for complete digital transformation.

Modern software development demands more speed, agility, and hands on deck than ever before, and application development the way we’ve always done it just isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need to radically change the way we approach software development.

Democratising software development for cultural change

That’s where no-code platforms come in. Going one step further than even low-code platforms which reduce the lines of code needed to build applications, no-code platforms remove the need for writing code entirely. The appeal? Any tech-savvy employee can be trained to use them to develop business applications.

Democratising access to application development tools serves the key goals of digital transformation. Digital transformation depends on technology, people, and culture. No-code platforms are the result of more people needing access to development tools to speed delivery. Plus, you increase your odds for a successful digital transformation by working with technology that is human-friendly.

Can citizen developers be trusted?

To that end, many see no-code platforms as being synonymous with citizen development: letting employees without a programming background build applications. Citizen development isn’t new. For the past 30 or more years employees have been creating their own workaround solutions via Excel sheets and Lotus Notes. Only then it was called shadow IT. And it was, and is, a big problem.

Shadow IT is the risk you run by sanctioning development activity outside of IT departments, and it’s one of the key objections to no-code platforms by CIOs and IT managers alike: “How will this be different than the Excel sheets?” or “How will it survive the next generation of employees?” are often heard (and valid) concerns.

From chaos to order

The difference is that no-code platforms can be governed. You take that tangled web of ad hoc solutions and Excel sheets and put them onto a no-code platform, which outsmarts Excel and does so in a more visual way. And, most importantly, allows for controls like role management and monitoring.

No-code platforms have the capacity to directly involve IT departments in the activities of citizen developers. Digital transformation inherently requires every employee to develop more technical skills and adapt to new systems, but they need support to get there. That’s why a partnership between IT professionals and citizen developers, facilitated by no-code platforms, is a recipe for success. It’s a holistic approach to digital transformation from within: citizen developers get the guidance they need to operate the tool that will motor the organisation forward.

By embracing citizen development rather than fighting to suppress it, you legitimise it. And with legitimacy comes security controls and quality standards.

Channel shadow IT into something useful

Combined with governance, no-code platforms actually solve the shadow IT problem rather than add to it. The technology in terms of what these platforms are capable of is at a point where power and quality are assured. In this way, no-code platforms take shadow IT and give it the structure and support it needs to become something actually useful instead of destructive. And that’s citizen development.

Think of it like the first law of thermodynamics: energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred from one form to another. With strategy, governance, and a no-code platform, you not only eliminate the chaos of shadow IT, you transform it into a powerful force for digital transformation throughout the enterprise.

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