THE LOW-CODE LOWDOWN

Editorial Type: Technology Focus Date: 10-2020 Views: 2,513 Tags: Document, Content Services, Strategy, Management, Technology, Nuxeo PDF Version:
Christopher McLaughlin, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Nuxeo, looks at low-code development and its role in content-based applications

There is more content in the world now than at any other time in human history. With more than four billion internet users in the world, each of them engaging and interacting with content nearly all the time - and many of them also creating content of their own - it's no surprise that how enterprises manage and use content has become vitally important to continued business success.

Content is the cornerstone of most marketing departments now, but good content goes way beyond use in marketing, driving many business outcomes. Recent Nuxeo research revealed that 29% of consumers said personalised content from a retailer makes them feel more valued and 28% said it made them more likely to buy again. 42% of UK shoppers have recommended a retailer because of the quality of the content they share.

Making smart and strategic use of content has therefore become a number one priority for many enterprises. Yet the process of developing applications can take too long and can be too prescriptive, hampering speed to market with transformational new services and user experiences. As the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted, a more agile and sustainable approach is now needed if companies are to make more opportune use of their richest information and multimedia assets.

It is in this context that 'low-code' development has risen up the business agenda, with organisations all over the world becoming increasingly aware of how low code can help them become more agile and responsive.

CONTENT DIGITISATION IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19
A realisation of the need to be agile, nimble and ready for anything in business had dawned long before Covid-19, but lockdown really brought that mode of thinking to the fore. If an organisation's employees, supply-chain partners and customers found it difficult to engage fluidly with content and processes beforehand, this was certainly the case once office premises closed.

Previously, companies looked at the content digitisation challenge as a means of continuous business differentiation. How could they pivot activities to respond to new opportunities and keep ahead of competitors with new and exciting propositions? During lockdown, manoeuvrability became a matter of survival. If different parties could not access the information or digital assets they needed on-demand to accomplish routine or new tasks, companies' business continuity was directly under threat.

By contrast, those companies that were empowered by smart and flexible content access were able to progress ably under even the most extreme conditions. The most notable point of difference for the businesses that continued to thrive was that 100% of their critical processes were digital - supported by on-demand, anywhere access to whatever information or content people needed.


"The realisation that this low-code development approach can be applied specifically to content-based applications is particularly exciting for organisations emerging from lockdown. It paves the way for companies to create new content-based services at high speed. Whereas it might have taken up to 12 months to create a new customer or supply-chain experience the traditional way, development teams with access to a low-code development platform for delivering new content-based services and experiences, can do so within just a few weeks."

LOW-CODE AS AN INNOVATION ENABLER
This has all helped accelerate the rise of low-code development, especially in the context of content access, management and re-use. Low-code is about giving companies the ability to create and roll out new user experiences without having to engage in long development projects.

The idea is to make developers more efficient, by allowing them to re-use existing components and templates to speed up application delivery, drawing on vast libraries of proven constituent software assets. Rather than doing away with the need for developers, low-code allows IT teams to make smarter and more efficient use of their time and skills, accelerating the delivery of new functionality.

The realisation that this low-code development approach can be applied specifically to content-based applications is particularly exciting for organisations emerging from lockdown. It paves the way for companies to create new content-based services at high speed. Whereas it might have taken up to 12 months to create a new customer or supply-chain experience the traditional way, development teams with access to a low-code development platform for delivering new content-based services and experiences, can do so within just a few weeks.

ENABLING PROCESS AUTOMATION
Once valuable business content has been unlocked, and is supported by a smart platform (with a rich library of reusable software functions that companies can harness and build on to exploit their own information assets in new ways), a world of new possibilities opens up.

If a car insurance company wants to roll out a new customer portal with the facility to allow claimants to upload photographic evidence directly from a mobile phone, they can do so quickly and efficiently - even adding artificial intelligence capabilities that can automatically extract critical data from those photos (such as the registration numbers of vehicles involved in an incident, or the claimant's particulars from their driver's licence).

Such services are not just about improving the customer experience by making it easier and more convenient to submit claims information and accelerate processing. They also pave the way for process automation, driving new operational efficiency for companies themselves. In a car insurance firm, if an intelligent image-reading feature is introduced to extract detail about damage to the front-left bumper of a particular make and model of Mini, triggering automatic lookup of comparable claims and repair estimates, this could help expedite the settling of claims.

Low-code tooling means that organisations with innovative new ideas can pivot more quickly, and take advantage of these capabilities more readily. It is the unique combination of core content management functionality and a low-code app development environment that makes this possible: this is what enables new agility and responsiveness to customer or business needs.

One critical downfall of reliance on enterprise content management - ECM - as both a technology and a business strategy has been that this made it so difficult to first build and then iterate apps. As a result, over time, ECM technology has become less and less valuable to organisations.

It is unrealistic for any enterprise to conceive and build the perfect application from scratch, especially when the need for urgency is greater than ever. A low-code development approach is much more viable, allowing for the unforeseeable and providing businesses with the agility to create new content-based services at high speed.

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