Why agencies are turning to low-code/no-code platforms to achieve speed-to-mission

Why agencies are turning to low-code/no-code platforms to achieve speed-to-mission
Jun 3, 2021
4 MIN. READ
The low-code/no-code platform movement has exploded in the public sector. Why now, and what now? Here’s what agencies need to know.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be a federal IT decision maker. An explosion of game-changing tools and technologies—with low-code/no-code platforms at the core—has opened up new ways for agencies to achieve mission outcomes, fast. These platforms simplify efforts behind the scenes, but they may feel complicated to agencies that are accustomed to legacy IT systems and processes. What are low-code/no-code platforms, where did they originate, and how can agencies take advantage of them to accelerate mission impact? Here’s a quick breakdown. 

What are low-code/no-code platforms, and what value do they bring to the public sector?

ServiceNow. Appian. AWS Honeycode. These vendors and others offer solutions that allow you to build applications faster without having to write a lot of the infrastructure or underlying code. Once you’ve performed your customer research and feel confident that the applications you plan to build will provide a better, faster customer experience, low/no-code platforms step in to help you get products in front of citizens and internal workers quickly. The time-to-value benefits are clear, but there are also external factors driving the adoption of low-code/no-code platforms:

  • Outsized O&M costs: Roughly 80% of the federal IT budget is spent on operations and maintenance; this aging portfolio needs to be modernized.

  • Cybersecurity risk mitigation: If you’re spending all of your time patching legacy technology, you introduce the potential for missing a cybersecurity vulnerability.

  • Evolving CX/UX expectations: Citizens and employees now expect digital experiences that are more in line with what they experience in their daily lives. 

Mission owners appreciate the agility that these platforms offer, and CIOs value the standardization and stability—knowing that applications are being built on a secure platform is reassuring to IT decision-makers tasked with overseeing the agency’s enterprise architecture. From a developer perspective, low/no-code platforms are a win because they eliminate the need to write a lot of “plumbing code,” as much of the infrastructure or underlying code that enables the development of applications is the same from application to application. This frees up time for developers to focus on high-value work instead. 

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From humble help desk origins to drag-and-drop digital experiences across the enterprise

Low-code/no-code platforms allow agencies to strike the perfect balance between compliance and agility—delivering wins for CIOs, mission leaders, citizens, and employees.

Developers have always tried to find ways to simplify the development lifecycle, so it may not surprise you to learn that many low/no-code platforms originated more than 20 years ago in the help desk/IT service desk realm. If you think of a help desk, there’s a problem ticket that needs to be resolved through a workflow and approval process, and then finally it gets closed. Agencies began to develop low-code efficiencies around these process-driven help desk services, and in the past decade-plus, IT leaders began to recognize additional applications outside of help desk/IT service desk needs. HR onboarding. Financial management. Grants management. Training and technical assistance. When it comes to building digital agency experiences that follow a similar model to the original help desk use case, the sky’s the limit.

Using low-code/no-code platforms to address the talent gap

The main benefit of low-code/no-code platforms is that they offer a faster and easier way for agencies to develop applications. They provide a secure drag-and-drop canvas that greatly reduces the need for software development skills in the workforce. This opens up exciting possibilities for the federal workforce: your team of analysts can be comprised of english majors, psychology majors, biology majors—domain-focused experts who understand the details of the mission.

Armed with mission understanding, these analysts simply need to learn the back-office business processes and/or citizen-facing business applications, and then they can leverage low-code platforms to drag and drop the pieces of functionality they need to create a new digital experience. By lowering the development barrier to entry, low-code platforms expand the pool of candidates that can do this mission-critical work—a significant change from decades past when only software developers and computer science majors were qualified to take on custom development projects.  

The bright future of digital transformation 

Our public sector digital transformation work is organized into three layers: first is IT and CX transformation work, which covers the strategy, planning, and infrastructure that enables an agency to deliver services to its mission; second is the application design and delivery layer, where we’re building new experiences for citizens and office workers using these low-code/no-code platforms; and third is the artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) layer that leverages new and emerging capabilities that can be integrated with these platforms. The future of digital transformation lies in knowing how to apply these technologies in strategic ways to achieve mission outcomes.

Low-code platforms allow mission leaders to get products in front of citizens and employees with greater speed, ease, and efficiency. And with the integration of AI/ML capabilities, agencies can stitch together intelligent automation solutions that take mission delivery to the next level—allowing employees to focus on higher value work while delivering citizens the digital experiences they expect and deserve. 

Watch Kyle Tuberson talk about the low-code/no-code platform movement for public sector.

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