The democratization of software with low-code / no-code platforms

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Low-code / no-code platforms increase business agility, faster development times, and accelerate business results. And automation, the promise of low-code for creators and the creation of great products, was at the center of the discussion with Airtable co-founder Andrew Ofstad and Zapier product manager Chris Geoghegan, ” How Zapier Uses Airtable to Transform Product Development and Deliver Great Customer Experiences. “

“We all know in the industry how difficult it is to find developers to create software solutions to power our teams,” said Andrew Ofstad, Airtable co-founder. “No-code allows anyone to create compelling software solutions without having to be a developer or depend on IT. There is this shortage, this gap in the marketplace that no-code tools help fill.

Airtable, the platform used by Netflix for marketing, Intuit for research and information, and A&E for content planning, allows teams to build their own workflows and modernize business processes without any code.

“We founded the company with the belief that the people who do the work in companies should be the people who build and configure their software, not the programmers, and should not dictate their work around hard-coded software,” Ofstad explained. “The goal for us has been how to make these software concepts easy to understand for business end users in order to lower that threshold of adoption, so that anyone can have the powers that many of us in. Silicon Valley have as developers, and let someone build their own software? “

Zapier is a no-code platform for automating work by connecting over 3,000 applications and services into automated workflows. Launched in 2011, they have grown to support over 3,000 apps on their platform, including Salesforce, Google, and Airtable.

“No-code and low-code are relatively new terms, but the problems these tools solve are not new,” Geoghegan said. “Being able to provide people with simple tools that didn’t require a ton of technical knowledge meant that they had the building blocks to create an important workflow or process for their business, and sometimes even an entire business. Ultimately, this allows teams to move faster. This allows them to innovate. Putting the power in the hands of those people on the front lines of dealing with these issues – we believe this is where innovation will best take place. “

Ofstad also points out that the person who knows best how the software should work and how it should be used in their team is the person on that team – not a developer for a third-party company or someone in the IT department. This is because too much can be lost in the translation between the business side and the technical side. Another benefit is agility, when the team that owns the software can customize it to suit their needs on the fly.

“They can constantly innovate and iterate on their processes depending on the conditions of the business or the evolution of their mandates,” he explained. “They can quickly change software to fit the way new processes work, scale faster, and innovate more in their business than they could with a team of developers they would have to go through, or a IT department which often has a big backlog.

Low-code / no-code and industry trends

The pandemic shook most industries and woke them up to the need to go digital first, spanning industries from media and entertainment to health and fitness, commerce, and more. For this reason, starting a new business can be much cheaper, with a much broader reach – but also a broader competitive arena, on a global scale.

“With this change, there is a continued need for innovation,” Ofstad said. “You are competing with so many players in this global space that you have to constantly innovate to stay alive. This has resulted in the need for products, software and digital solutions that allow you to go faster and coordinate on a larger scale with your teams.

Additionally, the massive and accelerated digital transformation that businesses are experiencing today means that more and more knowledge work revolves around software for teams, and this has become an important part of how businesses innovate and win. . Knowledge workers are increasingly software savvy, adopting more products in the workplace at a higher level of sophistication.

Ofstad points to the change in the way companies like Zapier and Airtable view this problem as well. A lot of effort has been put into simplifying complex processes – in Zapier’s case, the integration between services and trigger action workflows and the larger workflows across the enterprise, and for Airtable, the business stack. software applications to create team workflows – and make them easy for users to take advantage of while simplifying software creation.

Geoghegan also explained that the pandemic has created a perfect storm for low-code to democratize software development, allowing people, regardless of their role or background, to solve problems that come their way. The pandemic is also making people take a closer look at how technology is changing the way they work.

“Businesses are changing because of COVID,” he said. “It’s given us all this collective moment to rethink how we build the businesses we build. During this time, we have seen how quickly change can happen. Sometimes during the pandemic it was week to week. Low-code platforms have given us all the ability to be more responsive to change, whatever your role.

The future of low-code

“I think the next generation of founders and business owners won’t be people with a ton of engineering experience,” Ofstadt said. “It’s probably going to be teachers who will create software for teachers, marketers who will create software for marketers. We’re going to see some really exciting innovations emerge from it.

There will also be a greater diversity of people and ideas represented in technology to build the next generation of businesses. He predicts that we will move from the typical business suite of Powerpoint, Excel, Word, and more to something like Zapier, Airtable, and Webflow touted as part of people’s skills in the future.

“I would just like to see more and more of these creative and ambitious systems thinkers being empowered to build within their companies without having to do the very obscure job of writing a bunch of code and studying computer science.” for four years and so on, “Geoghegan said.” I’d love to see more resumes that have Airtable and Zapier as their top skills, not just the Microsoft Office suite. I’m super excited to see a new generation of people creating with these tools This is the most satisfying part of working on a product like this.

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