Why SMEs are undervaluing low code

Low code development is becoming increasingly popular, but global adoption shows it is significantly undervalued. Can your business benefit from adopting a low code platform?


In 2017, Forrester’s worldwide survey found that more than 37% of developers were already using low code platforms to create apps; this number is set to grow to over 50% by mid-2020. This sounds fantastic, but closer inspection of the data reveals that the majority of these developers work in the departments of large – often multinational – businesses, with huge amounts of resources for research and development. This begs the question: Where is the adoption by smaller and middle-sized organisations, and what have we missed?

The truth is that low code development is being significantly undervalued by SMEs. Many of these are companies that can afford a platform such as Appian but have decided against it, or are perhaps not even aware of the platform’s capabilities. 

In my experience, there are three main reasons SMEs are failing to adopt low code platforms:

1. Unaware of potential

This is perhaps the most common reason SMEs are not taking advantage of low-code platforms. In organisations where resources are limited, an ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ mentality can take precedence over the perceived risk of adopting new technology. While this philosophy might appear safe in the short term it is actually the riskiest play a company can make, as it pits you against the future and can make the organisation even more resistant to change. It is our job, as low-code experts, to show how the benefits outweigh the discomfort of transformation.

2. Dependent on legacy systems

This group is aware of low code and its potential but they are limited by a dependency on legacy systems that are often decades old. There is a misconception, stemming from the old ways of doing things, that to replace one system with another is to disrupt a business to the point of irreparable damage. With low code, this is never the case. In fact, its integration ability allows for older products to be retired gradually, often with no downtime at all. We need to make sure businesses know this, and help them to be confident in the abilities of the platform to deliver. 

3. It’s too expensive

Many businesses believe a tool such as Appian is beyond their financial means. Whilst this may have been true ten or more years ago, it is no longer the case: low-code platforms have never been more accessible for SMEs! This lower entry point for low code means companies with as few as 50 employees can leverage the benefits of Appian in the same way as a huge multinational; in fact, they’re likely to realise the efficiency gains more quickly as their smaller size often equates to greater agility. 

Which SMEs would benefit most from low-code?

Of course, it’s somewhat simplistic to say that all SMEs would benefit from transitioning to low code. There may be businesses out there with fantastic development teams and well-supported bespoke software that works well and serves their customers. If that sounds like you, you may not need low code at all. There is, however, a large percentage of SMEs that could benefit massively from a new platform. 

These are companies that have been around for a long time – over ten years – and are well aware of the growing limitations of their legacy systems. Perhaps they have a dependency on older technology and fragmented data architecture, maintaining disparate systems and databases that make cross-communication and integration extremely difficult. This leads to operational inefficiencies, a long turnaround time for change and, ultimately, discontent among their customer base. 

Companies in this bracket would benefit significantly not only from the integration capabilities of low-code but also from their ability to scale as the organisation grows. Many businesses believe that low code is merely a cost saver; this is only partially true. Low code also helps you to improve throughput and gain an unprecedented level of visibility over your processes and allows you to react to changing market forces and steer your business into a profitable future. 

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