The shadow IT phenomenon continues to challenge enterprises, as employees are continuing to use personal cloud storage, devices and apps for work at an increasing rate. A recent IDC study found that shadow IT is growing faster than any other type of enterprise software. In fact, 71% of organizations now have a shadow IT problem and sprawl. The emergence of low-code/no-code platforms is opening up new opportunities for unlocking the value in existing non-standard applications by making it faster and easier to integrate them into standard enterprise technology stacks. These solutions allow users without coding skills to create their own visual logic that can be used to build purpose-built apps for their specific business needs and gain value faster. With the correct approach and with a centralized platform, the result is the transformation of shadow code – which was once seen as a risk – into a next-gen technology asset.
What is Shadow IT?
Shadow IT refers to IT infrastructure, applications and services that are used by the organization but are not managed, operated or funded by the IT department. It can arise for a number of reasons, including the fact that the IT department may not have the capacity to address all of the organization’s technology needs. However, it can lead to problems because the functionality of the shadow IT services is not standardized and cannot be fully integrated with the rest of the organization’s technology. If employees are using personal cloud storage, devices and apps for work, there are additional security and compliance issues that must be addressed. Employees typically aren’t aware of the risks involved with shadow IT as they have no responsibility for it. They also have no way to integrate their non-standard apps into the rest of the organization’s technology stack. This can pose a significant risk to the organization. For example, the use of non-standard apps could lead to data breaches if the apps aren’t compliant with security standards.
What is low-code/no-code?
Low-code and no-code are terms used to describe the process of creating apps without writing code. It can be done through a variety of approaches, including using visual programming, leveraging third-party application programming interfaces (APIs) and using pre-built functionalities and use cases. Low-code/no-code platforms are designed for a specific purpose, such as to automate business processes, build mobile apps or orchestrate services. They leverage the power of visual dataflow diagrams to represent the logic within their apps. The diagrams consist of nodes that represent actions and connectors that represent data sources and data sinks. The nodes can be dragged and dropped onto the canvas to create customized apps without writing a line of code. This makes it easier for non-technical users to build their own apps without having to learn to code. Low-code/no-code solutions provide a wide range of pre-built functionality that can be used to quickly build apps.
Why low-code/no-code is the answer to shadow IT
Low-code/no-code platforms allow users without coding skills to create visual logic that can be used to build purpose-built apps for their specific needs. The result is the transformation of shadow software – which was once seen as a risk – into a next-gen technology asset. By transforming shadow software into a next-gen asset, enterprises can unlock the value in existing non-standard applications by making it faster and easier to integrate them into standard enterprise technology stacks. The low-code/no-code approach will help organizations secure their data by allowing them to centralize and integrate non-standard apps into their secure enterprise technology stacks. It will also allow them to comply with regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) since data can be controlled by a single IT team.
By providing enterprise level LC/NC platforms and embracing business developers, an organization’s IT function can offer a new and exciting world when it extends its software-development knowledge to the “shadow side”. The IT department has an important role to play in building out the organization’s IT ecosystem through a continuous partnership by extending its reach into the business to provide an enterprise-optimized environment. An enterprise’s development capabilities can be fully assessed by analyzing its no-code, low-code, and pro-code segments.
Contributions of business developers to value creation
If IT provided business developers with the appropriate tools and guidance in terms of design, development, and security, think about what they could build and innovate. There are many rewards to be reaped.
Business developers play a critical role in the process of connecting non-standard applications with the enterprise. They are responsible for building the visual logic that integrates the application with the enterprise system. With low-code/no-code tools, business developers can create this logic with little or no coding. The result is a more efficient and collaborative process that results in more consistent applications. Business developers are also responsible for building reusable components that others in the organization can use. Ideally, these components can be used by other developers to build applications that integrate with other systems. In many ways, business developers are the modern-day software architects, who think about the larger system, and how various parts of the enterprise work together. They serve an important role in the organization, and their work can help unlock the value in non-standard applications.
Low-code platforms for business process automation
Business process automation refers to the use of software to automate manual processes. Low-code/no-code solutions can be used to automate repetitive processes such as customer onboarding, supply chain management and insurance claim processing. They can also be used to create new customer-facing products and services, such as online sales with e-closing, virtual assistants and document self-service. Low-code/no-code solutions can be integrated with existing enterprise systems to create simple but powerful business process automation apps. They can manage data created by those processes, automate rules and triggers and integrate with other systems to generate additional data. Data can be used to generate customer-specific insights, execute complex decisions and manage risks related to compliance.
Low-code platforms for orchestration and integration
App development and integration is a challenge for most organizations due to the lack of skills and resources in this area. Low-code/no-code solutions can be used to quickly build and integrate apps into existing enterprise stacks. They provide extensive libraries of pre-built functionalities that can be used to build and integrate apps. For example, with a low-code platform, an app could be built to collect data from customers and then sent to a centralized database for analysis. Low-code/no-code solutions can also be used to integrate APIs with existing systems to generate and manage data. This orchestration capability can be used to generate new data and feed it into central business intelligence tools. The data can then be used to generate customer-specific insights and automate complex decisions.
Choosing the LCNC platform that is right for your industry
While the low-code/no-code market is expanding rapidly, not all platforms are created equal. Organizations looking to implement low-code/no-code platforms need to choose vendors that are well established, with a strong track record of success. There are many vendors in this space, but not all of them will be a good fit for a particular industry. That’s why it’s important to evaluate each vendor based on its strengths, the experience it offers, and the value it can provide. Some key areas to consider when choosing the platform that is right for your business:
- Centralized platform: Does the vendor offer a single or multi-platform solution? What is the underlying architecture? Is the platform cross-channel? What document management capabilities do they offer? Is it scalable?
- Orchestration capability: Does the platform support orchestration? Do they integrate API within their flows? Are their APIs open standard? Is this platform capable of bridging siloed applications lacking features? Does this help resolve IT’s department technical debt?
- Compliance: Does the platform consider the regulations in my industry? How does the platform comply with regulations?
- Security: Does the platform align with organizational requirements and policies on security? Is their credentials system strong enough? Does the platform pass penetration testing, intrusion detection, and threat log management?
- Digital Transformation: Do they help us set up a route for transformation? Do they have a gallery of pre-built functionalities and use cases?
- Support to the community: What are their support languages? What is the vendor’s approach to its community? What is the overall user experience? Is there an online or an onsite experience? What is the onboarding process like? How does it compare to other vendors?
Shadow IT is a challenge that many organizations are facing, but it doesn’t have to be. Low-code/no-code platforms can be used to build visual logic that can be used to transform shadow code into a next-gen technology asset.
There are many benefits of using low-code/no-code platforms, including reduced time to deployment, reduced costs, and improved consistency.
It is important to select a centralized platform that can help you connect existing applications transversally with all enterprise systems with no or low coding. This will help organizations secure their data by allowing them to centralize and integrate non-standard apps into their secure enterprise technology stacks. It will also allow them to comply with regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) since data can be controlled by a single IT team.