We have all read numerous articles on how software is eating the world, and how there aren’t enough software developers in the world to build all the applications that are needed to be built. Based on leading industry studies, there are over 500 million applications to be developed in the next 5 years, and in the US alone there is a shortfall of over 1 million developers every year. At a 10,000 ft view, this is absolutely the case, we need more applications and we need more people to develop them. But as you delve deeper into the topic, there are several nuances. Let’s first start with some trends driving this need for enterprise software.
A large majority of the current workforce of knowledge workers across the globe comprises of millennials who are so used to living in a digitally-abled environment. Their expectations from and habituation with mobile applications, messaging platforms, and cloud technology is incredibly high. They use applications that are AI-enabled and cloud-connected in their day-to-day life. There is no doubt, in the face of the changing workplace demographics and the growing demands from a digitally habituated workforce, enterprise application development is experiencing a big disruptive metamorphosis. Applications are expected to be sleek, modern, always fresh and with intelligence to boot.
A vast majority of new applications to be developed will be replacing out-dated legacy applications to make them relevant and useful in today’s day and age.
The Impact of Covid and Work from Anywhere
Enterprise digital transformation moved into top gear in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the industry was warming up with all the digital integrations slowly reshaping the work culture across the world over the last decade, the Covid-19 pandemic has just accelerated the process. Every industry is getting transformed, and for some digital evolution has become a matter of survival. Access to information while working remotely, eliminating bottle-necks and people dependency wherever possible, and letting software do a whole lot of heavy-lifting behind the scenes to make processes faster and more efficient – are all driving the need for new applications to be developed. Today’s digital workers are not tied down to an office, let alone a desktop. Enterprise applications need to be mobile first, accessible from anywhere and evolving over time to keep up with demands. These are all new applications that are streamlining work and improving efficiency.
The Advent of Artificial Intelligence in Everyday Enterprise Applications
Today every popular consumer application has an element of artificial intelligence – whether the recommendations on your social feed, the advertisements you see across the web, or the bots you converse with when reaching out for support. The same level of intelligence, and even more, is now expected of internal enterprise applications. Crunching large volumes of data to derive trends and predictions, machine learning to build and train complex decision making models, natural language processing to make applications easier to use and much more.
A whole new class of application, and functionality in existing applications needs to be developed to leverage the immense power of AI.
Now let’s look at how these applications will get developed. Across these three classes of applications (and there can be many more categories to add to the list), there ain’t a single development methodology that may apply, and consequently you need a whole range of different skill sets.
At the bottom of the pyramid, you have applications that are simple to define and configure and can be built with drag-drop SaaS tools or no-code platforms by citizen developers. With the advent of a new breed of no-code development platforms, you don’t need any IT skills to build a vast majority of applications and that’s why it is called NO-CODE. It is needless to say that now-a-days every business analyst is also an application developer. We estimate over 50% of applications to be developed going forward will be of this kind, ready in days, and built by end users themselves with this no-code methodology.
In the middle of the pyramid are applications that need a bit more customization and complex business logic to be incorporated. Domain or vertical specific business tools with a range of configurability options, or new-age low-code development platforms give expert users the ability to build applications in weeks. What would have otherwise taken months of development with an army of skilled resources, now gets done by a tag team of a business user and an IT expert in weeks. We estimate 25% of new applications to be developed with this low-code methodology.
Intelligent automation platforms
And lastly comes the top of the pyramid applications that are extremely complex, with a high dose of AI/ML and other advanced technologies built in and with massive end-end integration across the enterprise. These applications will typically get built on top of intelligent automation platforms, with involvement from data engineering, business analysts and IT security teams. We estimate over 15% of all applications to be developed in the next few years will fall into this category.
Traditional custom development
And then you have the remaining 10% of applications being developed with traditional custom development approaches for several different reasons. And here, the shortfall of developers is really going to hurt.
The rise of citizen developers
Today’s new breed of no-code development platforms makes it easier than ever for Citizen developers – non-IT business users – to define, create and deploy applications with minimal involvement from IT teams. With drag-drop or point-click type of environments to build applications, traditional programming knowledge takes a backseat. Graphical user interfaces to create applications accelerate the speed, democratize the process, and ensure ease of use for non-programmers. IT teams may still be involved to evaluate and approve the development platforms to ensure requisite data security, scalability and enforce back-up and restoration rules as well as contextual access permissions.
Simple business process management applications that typically involve data collection via forms, task tracking or approval workflows are all great candidates for no-code development. Citizen developers can use visual development platforms to create applications in days. Traditional development programs tend to be time-consuming and fail to keep up with the fierce pace at which the digital requirements of workplaces are changing. No-code development provides a more agile approach to building these simple, yet essential business tools.
So, is there really a shortage of developers?
With the advent of today’s sleek, intelligent and intuitive no-code and low-code platforms like Zvolv, building complex enterprise applications is no longer the sole forte of specialized developer resources. A tag team of a business analyst and a citizen developer well trained in configuring applications via visual means, can churn out critical applications in days. IT teams have to focus on selecting the right platforms to use across their organizations, and support citizen developers in the right architectures and access permissions for data. This opens up a large pool of resources to build, upgrade and maintain enterprise applications. Only the very specialized applications that need deep customization may be relegated to the expertise of domain specific technology experts.