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One of the top challenges business leaders face when trying to accelerate digital transformation is expanding low code adoption throughout their enterprise. Large scale implementation is a powerful way to get more people involved with digital transformation and supercharge your innovation programs company-wide. However, some of the biggest obstacles business leaders face stem from misconceptions about what low code is and how it should be implemented. In fact, many of the notions that make people hesitant to roll out low code programs are just plain wrong.

Here are the top three misconceptions that slow the adoption of low code in the enterprise:

What is Low Code?

Low code is a way of building digital applications. It empowers both developers and non-developers to quickly create applications using visual drag and drop tools. It allows everyone to be a developer, whether they’re a computer science pro or have no programming experience at all. My former Forrester colleague John Rymer and I coined the term ‘low code’ when we were doing research about these development platforms.
  • Low code is just for citizen developers building ‘throwaway’ applications. In fact, low code adopted at an enterprise level empowers everyone to participate in development, from novices to pros. Because they believe low code is only for citizen developers, pro developers have a mindset that using low code means you’re bad at development. They think skilled developers have no use for low code. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Low code platforms today have the ability to build and scale to the enterprise. Low code lets non-developers contribute to digital transformation projects, and it gives pro devs the resources to complete large, complex projects far faster. Leaders need to start thinking of low code more strategically, as a platform to enable all developers.
  • Low-code traps you in vendor lock-in. Many leaders worry that putting strategic applications in low code will make it impossible to transition to a different platform in the future. But thinking about low code in terms of technical debt or vendor lock-in misses the point. Low code is so fast that it easily makes up for any lock-in. It takes one to two years to build a new enterprise strategic application with traditional development. With low code, your team can build the same application in three to six months. If you keep developing the old way, competitors using low code will blow you out of the water. Investing in low code is about being able to iterate faster, get ideas out, and scale to the enterprise quickly. When you’re looking to get strategic apps out, adding low code enables you to quickly build, ideate, and scale.
    Some leaders also fear vendor lock-in because they don’t realize most companies are using a hybrid approach with low code. It’s common to combine drag-and-drop configuration with custom coding. That’s why John and I called it “low code”. It’s rare, even in citizen development, for there to be no code. When adopting low code at an enterprise level, create guidelines for when and how to use low code, depending on how strategic the app is.
  • Low code is just technology. Since it has ‘code’ in the name, I get why leaders think it’s just a tactical purchase for development. But low code is really a methodology and a leadership discipline. To succeed with scaling low code to the enterprise level, we need to become low code leaders. We need to be able to do more with less talent, to develop and iterate quickly. We need to measure our success as leaders by how much of our business we transform to be digital. And we need to adopt the mindset that low code is like spreadsheets. 30 years ago, only accountants used spreadsheets. Now, everybody uses them. Embrace coding as a core competency for all roles in the organization. I predict that 90% of low-code adoption will fail because it’s adopted only as a technology and not as a leadership imperative. We need a leadership shift.

For a lot of you, low code sounds like just another trend to get caught up on. But the rise of low code is far more than a trend. Low code represents a major shift in the way organizations operate digitally. Low code is essential for digital business literacy. And it affects how quickly you can deliver outcomes. Focus on what it means for your leadership style and how you accelerate innovation in your organization.

If you’re considering adopting low code or expanding its use in your organization, take time to assess the key strategic outcomes you’re trying to get to with low code. Then, identify the gaps that need to be closed and the main low code capabilities and governance guardrails you need to put in place. We offer a complementary assessment to help you with this – take the low code assessment here. I also recommend building a low code transformation playbook. We go over this in our low code masterclass. Sign up if you want to start building your low code transformation playbook. Adopting low code at an enterprise level is a big undertaking, but you got this!