With around 50% of developers using or planning to use low-code, choosing a low-code platform has become a major dilemma for CIOs today. To top that off, every platform seems promising in its own right. How then, should you go about evaluating the low-code platforms available in the market?

Forrester VP and Principal Analyst John R. Rymer, a leading expert, shared in an OutSystems Webinar, what he discovered while compiling “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Pros, Q1 2019.”

To begin with, you might want to decide: what is it that your organisation wants? What are your use cases? Which of them are of higher relevance to the smooth functioning of your organisation? Try looking for platforms that address as many use cases as possible; the more, the better.

Secondly, since you’ll build a range of applications, not to mention mission critical and enterprise grade apps, you might want to look for features that Rymer calls ‘the key enablers of scale’ such as security, dependability, availability, and manageability. “Enterprise”, he adds, “is all about scale”.

Finally, you want to look for organisations like yours—that have a setup, technological maturity, and skill base similar to yours. You’re more likely then, to find a product that suits your situation and who you are.

Moving on, Rymer talks about their functional assessment criteria, namely:

Tools for app development:

  • User experience and mobile: It is crucial that the platform be able to address both web & mobile and has solid forms capability. Organisations are really particular here, including native mobile apps.

  • Data Management: A critical set of needs is data management, transaction management against that data, scale of data, and so forth.

  • Integration: Integration is crucial to digital apps so we look for integration tools kits as well as adaptors.

  • Process and Content: Business process automation is essential and so we look for features that allow you to define and execute processes, sometimes some are workflows allowing humans, some are completely automated. You want to do both. Content is also often a big part of these processes. They are conveying maybe a written agreement, sales contracts, certainly images, videos, are now a very much a part of workflows and content.

  • Reporting and Analysis: If you’re going to be using these platforms and manage key data and core data, you have to be able to analyse your data and report on it.

  • AI, events: These are new emerging areas that we’re finding a great deal of potential in for clients. So does the platform allow you to use AI to create a natural language processing user interface? And events is really about real time data, does the platform allow you to incorporate real time data into your apps?

  • Coding Tools: Sometimes developers would rather code. Sometimes they have to code. There’s also integration point that don’t have APIs. You have to create an adapter that usually means coding. This is a convenience thing. When it’s faster to do some portion of your application to code, let them do it and still remain the context of platform.

  • Tools for Business Developers: Those are tools that allow you to create prototypes and get involved in development projects. They’ve got tremendous knowledge about the data and the processes. They are important and can help further development projects.

Platform and App Administration

  • Identity and access control: It’s considerably important for security.

  • App scaling and performance: Again we’re going into enterprise apps, so are there tools and facilities that allow us to understand app scaling and understand performance issues when they occur and deal with them?

  • Development process support: One of the characteristics of low-code platforms is that the development process tends to run quickly because they can. That can be generated in chaos. If you’re not really managing your process, it’s because you’re typically revving applications really quickly.

  • Application change management: Again, you’re revving very quickly so a platform should help you with that.

  • Platform admin and configuration: And lastly, you need to have some facilities to administer the platform. How many apps are on the platform, administer scaling, configuration, and guard rails, and things like that.

Deployment & Operations

  • Application deployment options: These are some criteria they’ve added recently. Security audits, deployment options these are really important.

  • Data loading and sync features: If you’re operating in an enterprise environment, oftentimes you are loading data from external sources onto the platform and you need to have that data in synch with the primary sources.

  • SLAs for cloud services: What is your service level, the commitment your vendors are making, and how do they handle it, is it your job, is it their job, is it a combination?

  • Application monitoring and management: Is everything up and running well, which of the apps is getting wide usage, and therefore, should it be invested in or not? Portfolio management and so forth. Very important when you get to an enterprise scale.

Conclusion:

As modern CIOs, you’re understandably concerned about building enterprise-grade apps, the freedom to innovate, empowering your team, security, and keeping up with the latest technology; which makes Digital Transformation quite the herculean task. However, by choosing the right low-code platform, you

  • Cut the cycle of rebuilding your apps

  • Never compromise on security for good speed

  • Be a Driver for Business Growth

  • Supercharge your Talent

  • Fuel Innovations and Get Results

And of course, checking off the criteria presented by John R. Rymer can make the process of digital transformation far less daunting. Hope you find your match!