Harnessing the power of low code ecosystems for SMEs
By Chris Huntingford, Director of Digital Innovation at digital transformation company ANS, discusses the importance of low code for SMEs to boost efficiency and improve competitiveness in the market.
Previously, small medium enterprises (SMEs) have struggled to take advantage of new technology to achieve their goals. Without dedicated specialist in house IT teams and large budgets, sometimes it simply isn’t feasible. But low code is now levelling the playing field. Using low code means SMEs can build out software solutions without needing specialised IT professionals.
So, what does this mean for SMEs? With the democratisation of cutting edge technology and new digital tools becoming easier to adopt, smaller companies can better compete with larger organisations – more than they ever have before.
What is low code?
Low code is a modular approach to software development and solution building that is already transforming the way businesses develop applications and drive innovation. It is a way of developing solutions and applications that use pre-built software modules. This means you don’t need coding skills or IT expertise to be able to build the software that you need.
The visual and user-friendly platform also offers templates and drag-and-drop functionalities. This allows better collaboration, increased efficiency, and accelerated transformation. What SMEs may not be aware of is that low code software is often already available for to use within their existing business applications, for example Copilot being included in Power Platform.
The rise of low code in businesses
Low code has emerged as a tool for enabling innovation and development in a cost-effective manner. By eliminating the need for costly in-house IT expertise, low code minimises the barriers to developing technology solutions.
SMEs now are in a fantastic position to become more competitive by adopting low code. However, almost half of SMEs are still not embracing it. With tech continuing to change at a rapid pace, there needs to be a wider adoption of low code across the industry to overcome the barriers that SMEs back.
How can low code benefit SMEs?
- Innovate faster
Low code is becoming increasingly important for SMEs. Business professionals can experiment with digital transformation solutions, delivering them faster and driving innovation. Low code means that businesses don’t need to develop new code from scratch, accessing a level of innovation that was previously reserved for larger enterprises. SMEs no longer have to rely on manual or outdated systems, as low code enables the modernisation of legacy systems that no longer align with today’s fast-paced business landscape.
- Anyone can use it
The minimal coding makes it accessible to a wide range of users. You don’t need to be a techie. The tried and tested prebuild modules means SMEs can modernise their processes with minimal risk. Companies without a dedicated in-house coding specialist can benefit from digital transformation solutions, without needing to fork out to outsource their coding and development.
- Keeping up with the market
With the technological and business advantages that low code provides, organisations can address rapidly changing market needs. This agility means that SMEs using low code can get into markets faster, compete with larger companies and remain relevant.
Why SMEs should adopt low code?
- Strategic focus
SMEs using low code to complete time consuming tasks, such as data entry, frees up time for them to focus on strategic tasks placing more emphasis on innovation and creativity. Take a finance team as an example. They can shift from data reconciliation to in-depth financial analysis to drive further insights to better inform financial decisions.
The drag-and-drop components in low code platforms make it possible for users, no matter their ability, to visually construct applications by simply dragging pre-built elements onto a canvas. With the release of Microsoft’s Copilot, makers can use natural language prompts to create useful solutions. This increases the rate at which applications can be built. By utilising the drag-and-drop capabilities, low code helps SMEs to create simple and sophisticated applications to meet their specific requirements, such as workflow automation, that they may have previously lacked the resources to do.
- Minimal training
The graphical user interfaces (GUIs) used by low code platforms are significantly less complex to learn than traditional coding. Therefore, makers don’t need to spend as much time training and learning how to write code from scratch. However, using a high-code interface is still an option for makers who want to write code.
Low code also frees up costs. SMEs no longer need to decide between not having advanced capabilities or paying large amounts for code developers. Organisations can now have the best of both worlds, rapid innovative applications at a low price, freeing up costs to be invested in other areas of business.
Low code helps SMEs to innovate cost effectively, enabling them to build new products and services that meet the needs of customers, which were previously challenging to implement. With low code, SMEs can use applications like Power Pages to design and develop their websites, which previously required a skilled web developer.
With low code, it’s now much easier for SMEs to compete against companies with deep tech resources. This facilitates rapid technological advancements, making developments more accessible for all businesses, no matter their size.
Low code platforms are flexible, enabling the customisation of solutions and tailoring them to SMEs’ unique demands. The flexibility of low code helps businesses to create targeted applications of varying complexity, designed to meet specific requirements.
For instance, a retail SME could use low code to develop a tailored inventory management system. This could optimise supply chain operations and automate restocking processes to ensure that products are consistently in stock to meet customer demands. By aligning technology to specific needs, businesses can enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experience, and unlock new growth opportunities.
Low code can rapidly create a variety of applications so businesses can quickly add new features and stay up to date.
What’s next for SMEs?
To unlock the immense potential of low code for SMEs, we need to educate people on the potential of low code. We must make sure they are not put off by misconceptions of complexity.
For SMEs, low code offers a pathway to rapidly accelerate innovation in line with business ambitions, closing the gap between them and larger enterprises with greater resources. To make the most of low code’s capabilities, SMEs should have a crystal-clear vision of their software solution objectives. With well-defined goals for digital transformation, SMEs can harness the speed and simplicity of low code to propel their innovation efforts forward at pace.