<h2 id="Digitalisierung" data-headline="Digitalisierung mit Low-Code"><span class="first_id_number">1.</span> Low Code: Opportunities and Opportunities for the Digitalization of SMEs</h2>
Digital transformation is a challenging process that places high demands on medium-sized companies in particular. Compared to larger competition, there is often a lack of well-thought-out concepts for exploiting the potential of digitization. A lack of IT know-how or a lack of IT infrastructure are among the reasons. Low code is a method by which small and medium-sized enterprises receive support for digital transformation. Simplification, acceleration and agility are just a few of the benefits that low code offers for digitization in SMEs.
<h2 id="Mittelstand" data-headline="Low-Code und Mittelstand"><span class="first_id_number">2.</span> Importance of Low Code for Digitalization in SMEs</h2>
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often still have some catching up to do when it comes to digital transformation compared to larger corporations. According to research by the KfW Bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau), SMEs are spending more and more on digital transformation projects. Despite increasing budget spending among SMEs, however, the use of digital options is often limited to individual, simple applications. These tools include cloud storage or communication tools. Only a fraction of SMEs are pursuing an overarching strategy for digital transformation. The reasons for the lack of digitization in medium-sized companies are usually a combination of high costs for digital infrastructure and a lack of IT specialists in their own company.
At the same time, challenges are growing as a result of advancing digitization and greater competition in SMEs. If you, as the person responsible in a medium-sized company, continue to wait to invest in a digitization strategy, valuable potential for a sustainable business model for digital transformation is lost.
<h2 id="Bedeutung" data-headline="Bedeutung von Low-Code"><span class="first_id_number">3.</span> Low code overview: origin and significance for digital transformation</h2>
In terms of concept, low code means “low code effort.” It is about developing appealing applications with little code and little programming work. It mainly involves the creation of software solutions that would otherwise require complex programming. Low Code uses sophisticated modelling methods and application designs. The modelling concepts have graphical interfaces and visual representations. Accordingly, software and applications cannot be developed using conventional, manual programming methods.
The term low code is derived from analysts Clay Richardson and John Rymon. These analysts from market research institute Forrester Research coined the term Low Code in a 2014 report (New Development Platforms Emerge For Customer-Facing Applications).
Basically, the idea of low code can be traced back to the 1990s. During this time, many programming approaches have been developed that make work easier for the user. Delphi and Visual Basic, for example, were developed under the term RAD (Rapid Application Development).
In the course of digitization, low code is particularly important in connection with corresponding low code development platforms. These first appeared in the USA and have developed into an important building block for the digital transformation of companies. What they have in common is that it should be possible to create applications and software without extensive programming knowledge. A distinctive feature of low-code platforms is the design of applications according to the modular principle. Thanks to visual application logic, end users in SMEs can develop software solutions for digital transformation according to their own criteria without special know-how.
The market research company Forrester estimates that by 2022 as a result of digitization, the market for low-code platforms will reach a volume of up to 22 billion US dollars.
<h2 id="lowcode vs nocode" data-headline="Low-Code vs. No-Code"><span class="first_id_number">4.</span> Distinction from No Code</h2>
The abbreviation “Low” already indicates that corresponding platforms do not work entirely without programming. It is therefore important to differentiate the no code approach from low code. The latter does not require any programming work at all. In no code platforms, further programming is also not possible. No Code is therefore considered a further development of Low Code. Most of these offers and platforms are aimed specifically at end users, sometimes even at private users. This offers convenience advantages, but the fact that it is no longer possible to connect more complex systems or individual components. This makes pure no code less suitable for the digital transformation of companies.
When programming work is or will be required for digital transformation in SMEs depends essentially on the specific project and the associated requirements. According to a rule of thumb, around 80 percent of all application or software development can be done without programming. Individualizations, specializations and fine adjustments require at least basic programming work.
<h2 id="Vorteile" data-headline="Vorteile von Low-Code"><span class="first_id_number">5.</span> Low code and its benefits for digitizing SMEs</h2>
Low code reduces the barriers to developing applications for digital transformation in SMEs. This makes low code an important cornerstone for the digitization of SMEs. In addition to the immediate advantage of creating the software quickly and promptly, the approach offers a number of other advantages.
<h2 id="Intuitive Entwicklung und Verwaltung" data-headline="Intuitive Entwicklung und Verwaltung"><span class="first_id_number">6.</span> Intuitive development and management</h2>
The IT infrastructure of many companies, especially in the course of digitization in SMEs, is characterized by a variety of complex systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or various HR software solutions. Numerous technologies must be integrated within the company or across the board. At the same time, the challenge for SMEs to achieve results quickly is increasing. These requirements call for a modern solution in which applications can be developed, operated and managed without major hurdles. The challenges can be overcome with Low Code both online and offline, mobile and on the desktop. Web and mobile applications can be created directly by internal employees with only a short training period.
<h2 id="Unabhaengigkeit externen Entwicklern" data-headline="Unabhängigkeit von externen Entwicklern"><span class="first_id_number">7.</span> Independence of SMEs from external developers</h2>
Low code can be seen as a way out of the lack of know-how for digitization in SMEs. Digital transformation is a problem for many companies precisely due to a lack of IT expertise. Where complex applications previously required programming skills, Low Code offers an alternative.
Applications can be created conveniently and without much knowledge from the end user using low-code platforms. An example of use is the configuration of functions of a program using a graphical user interface (GUI: Graphical User Interface). The approach thus helps to overcome one of the biggest digitization challenges faced by SMEs. Through graphical user interfaces and drag-and-drop logic, even non-IT professionals can create applications among employees. You create your own, individually tailored apps. This happens regardless of which capacities or resources are currently available in the company for digitization.
<h2 id="Entlastung von Mitarbeitern" data-headline="Entlastung von Mitarbeitern"><span class="first_id_number">8.</span> Reducing the burden on resources when digitizing SMEs</h2>
Thanks to the simple graphical programming environment of the low code platforms, employees from various departments in SMEs can participate in the creation of applications. This relieves the burden of digitization on the company's IT specialists. The IT department, if there is one, does not have to deal with repetitive and simple tasks. This helps us to concentrate better on our core business. Money and resources can be saved for more complex digitization tasks.
<h2 id="Flexible Anwendungsentwicklung" data-headline="Flexible Anwendungsentwicklung"><span class="first_id_number">9.</span> Flexible application development in the various departments</h2>
The independence of programming experts enables the flexible development of specialized applications for various areas of business in medium-sized companies. Non-programmers from different specialist departments can productively participate in the software development process and thus drive digital transformation forward. This allows both individual users and entire departments to design the applications they need. This is associated with the advantage that specialized technical know-how flows into the created applications without going through IT experts. This contributes to the professional quality of the applications. This also allows users to better meet their respective requirements and schedules.
<h2 id="Zeitvorteil" data-headline="Zeitvorteil durch Low-Code"><span class="first_id_number">10.</span> Easy creation and short training time</h2>
The enormous simplification of the programming effort for SMEs is implemented on low-code platforms using various graphical development modules. This includes tables and flow charts. The drag-and-drop principle makes it possible to model individual applications. This includes database models as well as business solutions and user interfaces. After just a short training period, even non-specialist employees are able to carry out professional development work. Low code development also meets the need for complex applications for digital transformation. This makes it possible to adapt to specific requirements in medium-sized companies.
<h2 id="Schnelligkeit durch Low-Code" data-headline="Schnelligkeit durch Low-Code"><span class="first_id_number">11.</span> Saving time through faster development for digital transformation</h2>
In traditional development, creating complex applications takes a lot of time. Writing code is a time-consuming task even for qualified IT professionals, as some things have to be entered manually. In view of increasing competition in SMEs, this required time is often no longer available. A particularly obvious advantage of low-code development is therefore the significant time savings for digitization. The creation of applications is not only easier, but also with a speed advantage of up to ten times over regular programming.
Complete digital applications and processes can be created within just a few hours or a few days, depending on your requirements. The user interface and application development are created in parallel when the concept is created in a low-code platform. As soon as someone develops an application, a graphical interface is generated at the same time. This is a further contribution to efficiency and to reducing development time in SMEs.
<h2 id="Agilitaet" data-headline="Agilität"><span class="first_id_number">12.</span> Agility: Adaptability to new digitization challenges</h2>
The requirements for medium-sized companies are subject to constant change as a result of digitization. This increases the need to adapt systems and processes to the new circumstances. Thanks to their adaptability, low-code development applications are ready for new challenges and requirements just as quickly. In traditional programming, even small changes in requirements often require a major intervention in the code or at least a longer training period. With support from low-code platforms, this effort is eliminated.
An essential aspect of digitization in medium-sized companies is process optimization. In this context, agility is of particular importance and describes the highest level of adaptability. Agility is particularly important in connection with the rapid response to new customer requirements. In view of the increasing competition for digital transformation in SMEs, only companies that react quickly to these challenges can hold their own in the longer term. With low code, the agile implementation of new applications is possible. This potential can be used both on mobile and on desktop and can be responded to new digitization requirements within a few days or hours.
<h2 id="Integrationen mit Low-Code" data-headline="Integrationen mit Low-Code"><span class="first_id_number">13.</span> Integration of existing systems</h2>
Integrativity is an important factor in the corporate world, including for digitization in SMEs. Existing systems should generally continue to be used in the course of digitization and enriched with new applications. Low-code solutions can usually be easily integrated into the existing infrastructure via open interfaces. In this way, the created applications fit into the existing architecture. Ideally, a platform is created that efficiently links all apps together. This option also depends on the choice of the appropriate platform. When the new applications are integrated into their usual systems, employees can continue working in a familiar environment. This environment is extended with complementary tools and apps that are easy to develop and learn.
<h2 id="Schnelle Prototyperstellung" data-headline="Schnelle Prototyperstellung"><span class="first_id_number">14.</span> Create prototypes faster</h2>
After the introduction of low code in a company, a variety of new applications are quickly created. The low cost and simplified accessibility invite intensive use. Employees of medium-sized companies quickly recognize the added value of such a platform. Created applications are quickly ready for use. There are no major transition or introductory phases. This characteristic also and in particular benefits prototype construction in times of digitization. When new ideas and concepts arise in the company, they can be implemented with the help of low code and then immediately tested in practice. Prototyping benefits from this. This is facilitated, while the testing option can promote acceptance among potential end users.
<h2 id="Vielfalt und individuelle Loesungen" data-headline="Vielfalt und individuelle Lösungen"><span class="first_id_number">15.</span> Diversity and individual solutions</h2>
Intuitive low code programming is accompanied by almost limitless possibilities for digitization in SMEs. Processes, services and products can be digitally promoted in a variety of ways. With sophisticated technologies, products can be continuously improved. Challenges such as digital communication with customers (for example via social media), responsive presentation of orders or payment transactions require constant adjustment and improvement. The increasing importance of IoT (Internet of Things) devices is also an example of an area that needs a quick response to new challenges. With low code, you can react quickly to new needs or new business growth goals and integrate appropriate applications into your IT landscape. This makes the low code platform a valuable bridge between IT and business.
<h2 id="mobile anwendungen" data-headline="Responsivität und mobile Anwendungen"><span class="first_id_number">16.</span> Responsivity and mobile applications</h2>
The digital transformation in SMEs is also increasing the importance of various end devices and device platforms. Potential customers require a company's web presence to be presented in an appealing mobile way. Modern low-code platforms enable responsiveness, i.e. the adaptation of apps and their display on various devices. Operators of low-code platforms pay attention to responsive customization right from the factory. This ensures that apps developed on it always have the same appearance and functions. This works regardless of the type of resolution or the size of the screen of the device being used. The apps are also available for all common platforms, so that no change or adjustment is required. Low code platforms are optimized for mobile application scenarios in digital transformation. For this purpose, they use native device properties such as sensors, location determination or the built-in camera.
<h2 id="Low-Code Plattformen" data-headline="Low-Code Plattformen"><span class="first_id_number">17.</span> Low code platforms and their similarities</h2>
There are a number of different low-code platforms (also known as the Low-CodeAutomation Platform) for low-code programming. They come from different providers and sometimes pursue different concepts and functions for digital transformation. However, they have fundamental similarities. What most providers have in common is a visual presentation layer with graphical editors. This allows interface elements or the user interface to be designed and arranged. In addition, typical platforms have a layer of business logic. These too are usually equipped with visual editors and are suitable for creating business processes and entities. This is supplemented by a data layer that is used to generate business entities. The platforms are also equipped with basic services such as authorization and authentication.
<h2 id="Funktionsweise im ueberblick" data-headline="Funktionsweise im Überblick"><span class="first_id_number">18.</span> How it works at a glance</h2>
The visual editors of low-code development platforms typically follow the classic WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) approach to interface creation. There are certain structural elements on a graphical artboard, which you as a user can adjust as you wish. From this, the visual editors create either a source code or a definition for the interface.
Data management for digital transformation is more complex. Tables and other elements must be filled with data from specific sources (such as customer databases). Low-code platforms also master this challenge with visual editors. Its strength is that all data accesses and mappings do not have to be done manually. This alone already saves an enormous amount of time. The implementation logic is different depending on the development platform.
When it comes to creating the logics, the question is how to determine without code what happens with a specific click. Here, too, the platforms work with visual editors. These follow various approaches depending on the platform and are able to implement even complex processes for digital transformation. When it comes to particularly complex digitization problems, many editors also bring their own scripting languages.
The challenges of testing and deploying new applications require an enormous amount of time in traditional everyday programming. Low-code platforms offer internal automation processes for testing applications. If the test goes beyond standard problems and requires manual intervention, the low-code platform also uses various visual editors here.
A distinctive feature of development platforms is that they largely hide the underlying technologies and not confront end users with them. On the one hand, this should make work as easy as possible for users and, on the other hand, they should be able to use the entire range of functions for digital transformation.
<h2 id="Fazit" data-headline="Fazit"><span class="first_id_number">19.</span> Conclusion: fit for digital transformation with low code</h2>
Low code is an opportunity, especially for medium-sized companies, to develop software at manageable time and cost. The use of a low-code platform is recommended as support for digital transformation if the framework conditions are right. Low Code is particularly strong when it comes to creating data-intensive applications. In competition, small and medium-sized companies are faced with the challenge of reacting quickly to changes in the business world. Low code promotes digital transformation, ensures independence and thus contributes to future security.