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Appian just won a $2 billion trade secrets claim against Pega. Should you be panicking?

Since last week, I’ve been fielding calls from clients asking how concerned they should be about the court’s decision. My advice: Climb down off the ledge.

But based on the questions clients are asking, there’s a bigger issue that this lawsuit raises for companies adopting low-code as a way to accelerate digital transformation. The number one question I’ve been asked by clients is:

“What do I do if I need to switch to a different low-code platform?”

After eight years of analyzing the low-code market, there’s a fundamental truth that developers and digital transformation leaders are missing: low code development is so much faster that it reduces the risks of platform lock-in. Given the current environment, it’s easy to fall prey to the most common low-code misconceptions that cast doubt on the potential impact for low-code. To keep your low-code transformation on track don’t fall prey to the most common misconceptions that cast doubt on the potential impact for low-code:

  • Misconception #1: Low-Code Is A Bigger Risk Than Custom-Coding. This misconception comes from the assumption that low-code platforms give developers less control and flexibility to build applications based on business users and customers’ expectations. For example, low-code platforms provide flexibility to build the most responsive user interfaces that leverage modern frameworks such as React and Angular — and to do it quickly. One group of developers was concerned that if they adopted low-code they would struggle to build an intuitive and responsive user interface that met their user’s demanding requirements, but soon realized that they could build the specified user interface to the exact requirements and still stay current on the latest user interface frameworks and standards. Ultimately, the team realized that going with the low-code platform was less risky, because they could build using frameworks they were familiar with and update it quickly based on customer and user feedback.
  • Misconception #2: Low-Code Is All Or Nothing, There’s No Middle Ground. In some ways, the low-code vs. custom-code debate can feel like choosing a religion. If you’re Christian, you can’t possibly adopt Buddhist or Muslim practices. This is the logic teams apply to the low-code vs. custom-code conversation. This a false choice. With low-code, you have the ability to package and leverage reusable components built using custom-code. In fact, modern low-code platforms like Pega’s allow you to create libraries of reusable components, including components that were built using custom code. For example, you might decide to take advantage of the workflow or business rules of one low-code platform, even as you use a custom-coded component that runs complex calculations.
  • Misconception #3: Custom-Coding Allows Greater Architecture Flexibility. Enterprise architects and solution architects may complain that low-code offers a “one-size-fits-all” architecture that might not align with their organization’s existing technical architecture. While it’s true that you can’t get into the guts to re-architect how your low-code platform works, most low-code platforms offer greater flexibility in terms of fitting into an organization’s existing environment. Most customers adopting low-code platforms are running these platforms in the cloud and using adaptors and connectors to integrate with third-party and internal applications.

So, what should you do now? 

Use this opportunity to evaluate low-code as a strategic priority and not just a trend that sits at the edge of your organization. Here’s my recommendation to all of our clients: Continue to press forward with your low-code roadmaps because the demand for digital apps is growing and the number of developers needed is not keeping pace. Now is also the time to review your architecture strategy for low-code and evaluate different options that provide additional flexibility.

But be smart. Every platform decision has risks; you should always be planning for alternatives. What you’ll find is that it’s far easier and less risky in low-code environments than in custom-coded architectures.

If you’re looking to build your strategy and roadmap for low-code or looking to expand low-code throughout your organization, be sure to register for our upcoming Low-Code Transformation Masterclass. This masterclass is designed for leaders looking to adopt and extend low-code as a key part of their digital acceleration strategies.

Everyone that attends our Low-Code Transformation Masterclass will get a complimentary copy of our Low-Code Transformation Playbook that is based on our framework for building out and operating your low-code center of excellence.