Enterprises Facing Developer Shortages and Embracing New Tools
March 30, 2022

Jason Beres

The pandemic highlighted one of the most crucial challenges facing the software industry — the lack of professional software developers. This was validated in the recent Top Software Development Challenges for 2022 survey report by Infragistics, which found that 53% of respondents (of 2,015 software developers and IT professionals surveyed) believed that recruiting developers with the right skills was their greatest challenge.

Related to this, respondents noted that high client expectations (41%), increased customer demands (40%), and issues with project management within the digital workplace (36%), were also areas of concern.

While no-code/low-code tools have been resisted for many years due to a history of issues around shadow IT, security and compliance, the shortage of developer talent combined with growing customer demands has overcome that resistance. As businesses struggle to meet the escalating needs for online software in every aspect of culture, including e-commerce, telehealth, online education, e-government, and more, the ability to allow non-technical stakeholders and citizen developers to build software is winning out. A Gartner report forecasts that by 2024, low-code adoption will be so widespread that 75% of the software solutions built around the globe will be made with the help of such tools.

With the latest iteration and advancement of low-code/no-code tools, both professionals and citizen developers can create new applications, enhance existing ones, and automate complex tasks. The Infragistics Survey found that 41% of respondents have active citizen development initiatives and 20% of those who don’t are either evaluating or planning to begin citizen development initiatives.

Effective deployment of low-code tools can save an organization hundreds of thousands of dollars by eliminating repetitive development tasks, and simplify more complex tasks like responsive screen design, complex layouts, data operations (like CRUD), and much more. Developers are a high-expense resource, so if companies can build apps faster, with less bugs, and by less senior or less skilled people, everyone benefits.

Achilles Heel: UX Design

One area of weakness of low-code and no-code tools is UX design. For enterprise software that is usually designed then developed by digital product teams of app designers and developers, low-code and no-code tools limit the innovation of app designers.

That’s because these low-code tools have strict tooling rules that hinder exciting product design, including:

■ Limited app layout capability or templated-driven design

■ Limited responsive design for mobile/tablet UX

■ Limited theming and branding

■ Limited custom interactions

■ Limited UI controls

■ Zero integration with design tools

To address this limitation, we’ve seen the emergence of a new concept in low-code tooling called the digital product development platform, which is a single platform that combines the key steps needed to design and produce a finished application fast: screen design, prototyping with real UI components, app building and code generation.  

This type of platform helps eliminate the traditional designer-developer handoff, which was needed to create great UX, but was a time consuming, frustrating, and error-prone process. The challenge is that, once designers create the app’s design and layout, they must provide design specs that explain how all the moving pieces need to be laid out, spaced, styled, colored, engaged with and so on. It has been the only way to ensure that the final app ends up pixel-perfect. Even then, it still may require a lot of implementation work on the part of the developer once they are inside their IDE.

Acceleration of Low-Code and No-Code

So, as indicated in the survey and other reports, the movement toward no-code and low-code tools is accelerating as companies struggle with increased demand for apps amid a developer shortage. And with so many new options available within this new tooling category, the barriers to adoption are fading, and we expect to see a robust market in the years ahead.

Jason Beres is SVP of Developer Tools at Infragistics, and creator of Indigo.Design
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