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Mendix has published the results of a new survey that shows British businesses are deploying low-code and complementary technologies to help them cope with the double challenge of Brexit and COVID-19. The survey findings are condensed in the ‘Navigating the UK landscape: It’s time for a low-code approach’ report.
The new role of the IT team
2020 has been a challenging year for the British economy: the COVID pandemic has radically transformed the way businesses operate, at a time when many were still in the midst of their preparations for Brexit.
Companies have been relying on their IT departments to play a critical strategic role in navigating the changes caused by COVID-19 and Brexit. Two thirds say the IT department has been instrumental in preparing for Brexit (65%) – and that it is better prepared for the transition than the rest of the business (65%).
IT leaders have prioritised solutions that boost business resilience (46%), slightly ahead of agility or employee productivity (both at 45%). Technologies that support these initiatives have therefore seen the most gains, with cloud computing (27%), collaboration software (26%) and productivity software (26%) most cited.
This new role has also put another challenge in the spotlight: the need for speed. The IT department is now expected to deliver projects, services or digital changes faster, according to two-thirds of leaders. Many businesses are increasing their investments accordingly. In most organisations, the IT department has received extra resources (68%) or budget (67%) to prepare for the long-term impact of COVID-19 and Brexit.
Low-code to the rescue
According to two thirds of leaders (65%), employees have become more tech savvy over the course of 2020 as they have had to adopt digital technologies to work. This provides businesses with an opportunity to rethink their approach to app development and improve their response to the need for faster app development, and limited IT resources.
One way enterprises are achieving these goals is by implementing low-code, a visual approach to software development. Low-code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. It breaks the traditional silos of business and IT to promote continuous collaboration.
A number of key industries across the UK are already implementing low-code solutions for critical enterprise-level applications:
This boom in low-code adoption is a direct response to IT teams’ need to work more closely with other departments in response to COVID and Brexit (63%). Two-thirds of businesses have specifically adopted new technologies to enable IT and business teams to collaborate (65%). 68% have even implemented tech to empower non-IT employees to develop and implement their own digital business applications.
Low-code platforms provide companies with a simple way to empower non-technical staff to design these critical applications, in collaboration with and under the supervision of IT. This enables organisations to deliver solutions that immediately support their strategic needs, while enabling the IT department and other divisions to work in a more agile, collaborative manner.
While this is a step in the right direction, leaders believe that more training is still needed to underpin the process. To respond to this, two thirds of businesses have already started training up employees for new digital roles, tasks and processes (67%). Nonetheless, 61% of leaders admit they still need to hire in new staff with additional skills.
This comes at a time when leaders are concerned that the UK’s transition from the EU will put a squeeze on digitally skilled talent. Three fifths are worried it will be harder to find the talent they need (61%), while difficulties hiring international staff (14%) and losing current staff (13%) are challenges that many feel unprepared for. Adopting a low-code approach to software development enables companies to solve this challenge by opening up the development talent pool to digitally savvy professionals and empowering them with tools to design business critical applications.
Nick Ford, VP of product and solutions marketing for Mendix, explains: “The double whammy of Brexit and the COVID pandemic has forced British businesses to radically change the way they operate. Digital transformation initiatives can no longer be put on the back burner while the IT team solves immediate problems – they are the immediate problem to solve.”
He adds: “Yet, with a talent crunch that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon, businesses need to ensure they tap into all their digitally savvy talent. This is why so many businesses have been adopting low-code. While 2020 was a good time for them to experiment, we will see this new approach to software development come to its own in 2021 as businesses juggle their need for resilience and innovation. Mendix has been pioneering this approach for years; we are very excited to see how far low-code developers take our platform to create solutions to problems that would otherwise have defied the imagination.”