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News and resources on the latest trends in IT training and professional development

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To coincide with the launch of our new eBook 2021: Trends and Insights for IT Pros we reached out to our subject matter experts with a few questions on the trending topics for 2021.

Tom Payne is an award-winning Technical Instructor with over 20 years of experience. He specializes in Java, JavaScript, iOS and Android development and Microsoft’s Power Platform.

Many organizations were forced to develop and launch new apps quickly in 2020. Do you think that need helped inspire the rise of low-code platforms, or was it just a natural progression?

Tom: In the 1980's computers became so affordable and powerful that businesses who rejected new technology struggled to compete with early adopters.

A similar phenomenon occurred with the internet in the 1990's. Organizations that provide the most value thrive, while those who reject new and powerful technologies can't compete. Now it is all about the cloud.

While cloud-based apps are naturally growing in popularity, the shock of being forced to access apps remotely during the pandemic certainly pushed the timeline forward. Covid-19 necessitated social distancing and acted as an accelerant in need of more remote web applications. How many job roles required tools that were only available on workstations connected to the intranet at work? Organizations had to adapt quickly. Low-code platforms provided the quickest way to spin up new web apps that would allow employees to perform their duties.

While the convenience and cost savings would eventually bring more and more companies to low-code platforms, resistance to change is a powerful inhibiter.

Covid-19 indeed forced many organizations to adapt more quickly.

In our eBook, 2021: Trends and Insight for IT Pros, we discover that utilizing low-code platforms like Microsoft's Power Platform led to a 74% reduction in app development costs. Do you see low-code as the future of app development?

Every organization exists to provide value. The winners are the ones who find ways to provide the most value to their stakeholders.

If you try to build something without having the right tools, it makes it hard to accomplish those goals.

To create an application would typically require someone who knows a programming language such as C#, Java, or Python. To have that application work with a database, you now must learn to talk to that database with SQL. On top of that, if you want your app accessed through the web, you have to know HTML, JavaScript, and CSS along with JSON or XML.

You are looking at a high-priced full-stack programmer that knows all of these languages or a whole team of programmers. Add up the costs for weeks, months, and perhaps years of development it will take to deliver a final product. If the app you are creating can fulfill the exact requirements using low-code power tools that require less high-priced expertise and fewer person-hours to complete, it is a no-brainer.

Does this mean low-code platforms will disrupt the app development world? Not entirely. For most standard types of applications, low-code works great.

As long as applications require elements that deviate from the most fundamental norms or require more customization than the low-code platforms provide, programmers will still have a place.

Since low-code is so accessible, do you predict an increase in collaboration between business users and developers?

Low-code platforms make creating new applications within the realm of possibility for computer savvy power users. To shield them from the underlying code, they are limited to the tools and components available in the platform. Those limits are not nearly as restrictive as they used to be. As low-code platforms expand their capabilities, there can also be an increased learning curve. Business users will find the limitations of their abilities, and the boundaries of the medium may lead them to seek more.

When businesses are in need, developers have an opportunity to help produce powerful custom apps with less effort by using low-code solutions. The platform reduces the need to hand-code most functionality while also reducing errors and debugging effort. When more customization is needed, more code-heavy solutions can still be incorporated.

Low-code solutions give business users more opportunity to create the tools they need.

As they gain proficiency, they may never need code or developer assistance. Even with the power of low-code platforms, collaboration with developers will undoubtedly be required in situations that require a higher level of customization.

How should someone get started?

Microsoft has done an excellent job with their role-based course curriculum starting with the Fundamentals, moving on to the Associate level, and finally onto Expert. All of the information is available on our Power Platform product page.

We thank Tom for his time and his valuable input.