What does a software developer do? It’s easy: they develop apps and software, right? It’s not that simple anymore. Where previously developers were restricted to writing software – a specialized skill – they are now expected to collaborate more with the business. And that requires communicating and better understanding the different aspects of the business in which they operate.
About the Author
Malcolm Ross, Vice President of Product Strategy and Deputy CTO at Appian.
The business/IT landscape is changing. Developers now need to communicate about projects in a clear and easily digestible way, and they need to collaborate with people far beyond the boundaries of the IT function. Fortunately, there are tools that make this collaboration easier, and they are changing the face of coding forever.
The appetite for change
But why is this change happening? First, there is widespread disillusion among companies that have invested heavily in custom software that takes too long to come to fruition or takes too long to deliver value. I know of companies that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that took years to build, only to be disappointed when they were finally completed.
Businesses have reason to be upset when such a large investment fails to deliver. What’s worse is that it’s often too late to raise the bar when the software is ready because business stakeholders didn’t have enough visibility into the development journey as it happened. .
It is true that the ability to deliver software projects faster is constantly increasing. Look at Agile, for example. The use of agile development techniques over the past decade has helped bring software to users faster by working in shorter sprints and driving iterative improvements. However, agile does not do enough to address the fundamental problem at the heart of successful software delivery, which is expressing logic.
Profitable software isn’t just about time to market, it’s also vital that the business is able to articulate what it wants and the developer is able to articulate how they get there. And, with companies increasingly relying on software to run their businesses, a developer’s ability to speak the language of business, rather than just technology, is important.
Everyone on the bridge
A traditional software developer had to master the art of building IT solutions with a deep knowledge of .NET or Java. A modern software developer also needs to know how the business works, the latest regulations and compliance requirements in their country, region, and industry, and more. This makes software development more complex and a team sport that requires multiple inputs. Fortunately, all parties involved in delivering a project can now sing along to the same hymn sheet that everyone understands.
Developers and even business analysts with little programming experience can now use low-code automation to build and implement software without being a programming language expert.
Low-code is a visual approach to software development. It abstracts and automates the application development lifecycle and reduces developer reliance on traditional coding. Now, app building tools are even more accessible to non-coders to build high-impact enterprise software applications.
But if low-code has allowed the whole company to see under the mantle of the magician, does the role of a software developer become obsolete? The role of the developer will evolve, instead of disappearing completely. Where previously they were isolated and largely involved in the tactical work of product development for the company, developers can now be better integrated and more strategic.
And while .NET and Java will continue to run software applications, a low-code automation platform will increasingly become the tool of choice. This will make coding faster and more collaborative, which is good news for everyone.
Low-code is not a new approach, but the massive push towards digital transformation has proven to be a catalyst in recent years. According to Gartner, 75% of large enterprises will use at least four low-code development tools for IT application development and citizen development initiatives by the end of 2025. Adoption of low-code automation is increasing and the people responsible for developing the software will evolve just as quickly.
Get a seat at the table
The evolution of software development and the increased use of digital tools in many companies contribute to the rise of the business technologist. This is important because technology decisions will now be better understood during development, not just after deployment. Meanwhile, developers will focus more on delivering business results through technology, instead of getting bogged down in the heavy responsibility of arduous line-by-line coding.
It is a collision or harmonization of worlds that existed in parallel. Now, the app development process has the synergies to prioritize results without being hampered by logistics. Low-code means that the code itself won’t get in the way and the whole company can understand the process and be involved in improving the software and adapting it to the goals from the start. The IT management team is now an integral part of the business. Now that everyone can speak the same language, nothing gets lost in translation, and everyone has clear visibility of the project at every stage.
Experiment with change
With everything changing so quickly, where should a developer start? Well, to see the benefits of low-code automation, it’s essential to experience it firsthand. Some will be skeptical at first, but this isn’t just a coding change; it’s a change in how technology relates to the rest of the business. This change is inevitable; we have known for years the inefficiency of software development in isolation. Everyone wins in a world where apps come to market faster.
Low-code is expected to move from a niche delivery method to the enterprise development mode of choice this year. The ability to work in this new way will position developers and IT teams to gain relevance in key business functions. It’s time for the broader business to get involved in app development. It’s a win-win in every way.