Low-code: An answer to unrelenting CX expectations

29th Apr 2021

B2B, B2C, B2B2C – pick an acronym, any acronym, and the commonality is there: CX expectations continue to rise, and rise fast. Today’s customers offer brands little benefit of the doubt or margin for error. If you fail to provide an experience that is efficient or memorable (or both, depending on your business), customers will switch to a competitor that does. Achieving assured experiences for every individual in a brand’s customer base requires applications ready to change on the fly, adapt to trends, and deliver deep customization and personalization. With brand loyalty more fleeting than ever, the stakes have never been higher for brands to get CX right.

Brands awash in the ever-rising tide of these expectations but still hard-coding their digital experiences need to recognize their doomed predicament.

Developer and engineering talent is limited and expensive. And even with that talent, traditional application development is slow. Customer demand for the new experiences and application capabilities required to remain competitive is unceasing. Eventually, brands locked into a traditional development mindset will fail to keep the pace modern CX demands, then fail altogether.

Low-code is a cheat code for brands

The answer to this CX challenge is low-code development. Low-code vastly simplifies the development process, replacing hard code with a visual interface enabling Lego-like assembly of drag-and-drop components that can serve all kinds of purposes and customizations. By reducing complexity, low-code enables newly-minted ‘citizen developers’ with far, far less expertise than traditional engineers – and coming at far less expense – to be just as effective in producing new customer-facing features and experiences. In fact, according to IDC, low-code allows a brand to expand its developer base by over 30 percent.

Low-code’s greatest advantage is its ability to accelerate development timetables and bring new CX features to market faster. Versus raw code development, low-code laps the traditional approach when it comes to leveraging code components, API-based services, machine learning, model-driven logic, the IoT and beyond. Because of this speed, brands leveraging low-code don’t just build and introduce solutions quicker, but can also rapidly fine tune and iterate solutions to optimize customer experiences again and again and again.

Low-code primed for high adoption

The clock is ticking for brands to begin a low-code strategy while the competitive differentiation is most pronounced. A survey of 500 engineering leads at medium-to-large brands found that 85% expect low-code to be increasingly omnipresent within their companies, beginning as soon as this year. Looking forward, Forrester foresees the market for low-code platforms to surpass $21 billion by 2022. IDC predicts that the end of 2023 will see 80% of digitally advanced organizations establishing self-service models, in which non-IT users or citizen developers rapidly respond to market needs without involving IT or traditional development workflows. By 2024, Gartner predicts that 65% of all application development will leverage low-code platforms. Given these projections, brands are well-advised to implement low-code practices sooner than later and catch the full wind of this emerging trend.

Low-code under the hood

Most low-code development platforms use a microservices architecture to enable the Lego-like assembly of pre-wrapped code modules into full applications. In this way, low-code can easily make use of API solutions developed by other businesses, providing shortcuts to advanced CX features. Low-code similarly lowers the bar (in a good way) when it comes to incorporating particularly nascent technologies. Digital experiences can utilize AI chatbots powered by natural language processing, IoT data, powerful product recommendation engines, and more without the specialized in-house expertise necessary otherwise.

For example, take the low-code development process behind Uber’s Android app, a seamless and well-celebrated CX achievement. The app finds users’ locations with Google geolocation APIs, handles vehicle directions and routing with Google Maps, provides text communication backed by Twilio, and processes payments by relying on Braintree. It’s next to impossible to calculate the time and cost savings this approach has delivered versus developing the app’s full list of features in-house.

At the same time, open source code is continuously being broken down into smaller and more modular pieces of code in the form of libraries. Within a decade, we estimate that the number of open source libraries freely available to brands will top half a billion. For brands leveraging low-code platforms and libraries, it’s no longer necessarily required to write lines of code to create compelling digital experiences.

Plenty of proof already in the pudding

Retail brands have been some of the quickest to embrace low-code for its advantages in rapidly creating and iterating features to explore new digital experience possibilities (though they are hardly the only industry were low-code is primed to deliver CX gains). Pampered Chef, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned kitchenware company, has demonstrated a clear example of how low-code can enable fast prototyping and live customer testing of new applications. Through experiments driven by low-code capabilities, the brand has been able to explore and optimize pioneering CX approaches. “A low-code strategy enables us to iteratively improve personalization and better engage users on our platforms,” Shiv Dutt, Pampered Chef’s VP of Digital Experience & Innovation, tells me. “With this tack, we are quickly launching prototypes of our application, bringing those experimental solutions before actual customers in live scenarios, collecting data, making improvements driven by that data, and repeating the cycle (quickly).  The risk of putting a ton of effort – and budget – behind software changes that may or may not work is largely mitigated; if something doesn’t work, we know, and we’re on to another iteration.”

As low-code sprints toward ubiquity, fortune will favor the fast

The CX promise of low-code for brands – and businesses across industries and whether selling to consumers or enterprises – is there for the taking right now.

With customers’ marketplace needs and expectations evolving more rapidly than ever, CX success is now defined by the ability to adapt and respond to those needs faster than the competition. Adopting a low-code strategy to develop those experiences provides brands with the dynamic efficiency and speed it now takes to win over customers, and win out against competitors.

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