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Moving towards no-code/low-code

No-code is SaaS 2.0

Jag Lamba
© Shutterstock / Maquette.pro

In 2022, we’re going to see a move toward no-code/low-code (NC/LC) startups and offerings, which will address portal fatigue as well as offer a better value proposition. NC/LC offerings are the clear next step for business functions as their flexibility, best practice templates, and ease of integration with current and future solutions make them compare quite favorably to the SaaS solutions that have begun to encumber all of our work machines.

To say that SaaS was a game changer would be underselling the monumental impact the model had. Whole industries changed so fast it seemed like it happened overnight, and software implementation transformed from a headache-inducing, business-halting process into the turning of a key.

Until very recently, this model proliferated with great success, and for good reason. There were so many business functions that still relied on spreadsheets, the digital equivalent of cave paintings (remember, Excel was first released in 1987—35 years ago, which is practically eons when we’re talking technology), and it was simple to take those functions online, add workflow features, reporting and analytic functions, and voilà! A business with recurring and reliable revenue.

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But over recent years, these first-generation SaaS solutions (SaaS 1.0) solutions have flourished to the point that it’s not unusual for an average business user to need to log into several systems to accomplish a single task or goal. As every function went online, the various systems and logins and processes out there proliferated to the point where people started suffering “portal fatigue,” frustration or energy drain due to the process of managing so many different login credentials, workflow and reporting systems, and all the additional details that come with a new system—not to mention trying to get them to work together, which wasn’t always easy.

In 2022, we’re going to see a move toward no-code/low-code (NC/LC) startups and offerings, which will address portal fatigue as well as offer a better value proposition. NC/LC offerings are the clear next step for business functions, as their flexibility, best practice templates, and ease of integration with current and future solutions make them compare quite favorably to the SaaS solutions that have begun to encumber all of our work machines.

NC/LC solutions use dynamic data models, workflows, and in-app reporting systems to provide flexibility that current SaaS point solutions often can’t match. While the first wave of SaaS solutions (hence the 1.0) was typified by a sense of “the work you’re used to—but online,” these new NC/LC solutions can be adapted by the end users to better fit the kind of work they need to do. Those with zero programming skills can use the tools in the solution to adapt it in a way that they’d need to bring on tech teams to do today. That’s the “no-code” part of the name; “low-code” solutions might still need some level of programming ability to make changes to better adapt the solution to their use case, but the barrier is still much lower than it is with higher-code-requirement applications.

No-code software in particular has exciting applications for future business environments. Users will be able to create both web and mobile applications and digitize complex business process with a simple drag-and-drop; no code-writing required. And since these applications aren’t usually tied to a specific use case, but a broad solution, it’s easier for software providers to offer starter templates that clients can use to make the no-code solution meet their specific needs.

The next wave of NC/LC solutions we’re likely to see in 2022 also bring benefits in extensibility, integration, and more. Extensibility is the ability to add adjacent use-cases; spending a year with a point solution only to learn that you have to either abandon it in favor of something more comprehensive or find another solution and integrate it with your current software stack, is not a scenario that anyone should find themselves, but many do today. Along similar lines, many NC/LC tools come with powerful integration engines that will create a unified platform for users that integrates with enterprise ecosystems already in place. And while SaaS made product updates easier to deploy, NC/LC allows for easier continuous updates to keep things humming all the time. And the ability to utilize multiple best practice options—not just what the vendor suggests at the outset of a SaaS deployment.

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2022 will bring an acceleration in both availability and adoption of these no-code/low-code solutions. It’s the beginning of the change that will come to a head in the next half decade. In two to three years, we’ll see many of these platforms integrating with and orchestrating existing SaaS point solutions, relegating those 1.0 solutions to backend databases for business users. Then in a few more years—three to five years from now—I expect NC/LC solutions to overtake and fully replace SaaS point solutions. The benefits and flexibility of these solutions are too attractive for businesses to pass up, and since they directly address the downsides of the SaaS 1.0 solutions we experience today, that adoption will be rapid once it comes. There are already some NC/LC solutions out there if you know where to look, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re the de-facto standard for businesses across industries.

Author
Jag Lamba
Jag Lamba is the founder and CEO of Certa. Jag grew up in Bombay, India, and studied computer science before kicking off his career as a software engineer. After moving to the U.S. and transitioning into Product Management, he began pursuing his MBA from Wharton while working at McKinsey, eventually moving into its strategy consulting practice. Jag founded Certa in 2016 with help from Techstars and angels.

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