What are Citizen Development, Low-Code / No-Code (LCNC) and Hyperautomation? Let’s start with the basics.
Most of us understand the concept of software development, and the fact that it requires professionally trained developers to program digital tools by writing code. So, what is LCNC development?
You can think about it as being on a spectrum of complexity. On one end of the spectrum is software you can build using drag-and-drop features, the so called "What You See Is What You Get" (‘WYSIWYG’) functionality, without writing a single line of code. That’s what we call no-code development. This is the new and exciting way of building software that you, as an aspiring citizen developer, are here to learn.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the most complex work, the traditional software development where high-level programming knowledge and professional development experience is required to build.
No-code Development Overview
Simply put, no-code development is primarily intended for those who aren’t comfortable with coding their own software, even those who have no knowledge of programming and application development.
You only need to know about the kinds of tasks and processes you do daily to meet your, and your company’s, overall needs and goals. As an expert in your domain, you know how your workflows work, and where they often go wrong. You also understand the limitations of the software and other tools you use, limitations that slow your activities and make your day more complicated.
Let’s look at an example.
Most companies have numerous paper-based processes and online data in isolated systems. You may often find that you must extract specific pieces of information manually, and deal with a lot of copying and pasting, for example.
With no-code development, you can automate data extraction easily. You can build a digital workflow using drag-and-drop tools so that it only takes one click to extract a data element, such as a last name, from an online form or a scanned paper document, and then automatically paste that information into a spreadsheet.
The same can be done to extract pieces of data from a form repeatedly, first name, address, and so on, all quickly and without any risk of errors.
In short, no-code development makes it easy for you to build automations and applications that do this kind of work for you. No-code applications are usually built on a workgroup or departmental level, for example, for a specific team in finance, or the whole finance department.
It gives you the power, so you don’t need any help from professional developers. However, there are also many professional developers who love no-code tools because it makes their work so much faster.
Now let’s move on to low-code development.
Low-code Development Overview
Using low-code development is more complex than no-code, but it is not quite as complicated as having to write actual code in a programming language.
Low-code requires you to have at least some knowledge of logic and analytical thinking. For example, a business process analyst could be great at using low-code and may consider themselves technically competent enough to say they are a workflow developer or a bot developer. Some of them may even have some basic experience using one or more programming languages.
Low-code development has several key uses.
For example, citizen developers with some software knowledge can create drag-and-drop visual interface elements that are used as no-code building blocks by other builders. They write the simple code that can bridge the gap between no-code elements and the more advanced software that drives underlying function of the no-code element. For example, the code that powers recognizing and extracting data, and then copying it into spreadsheets or another application.
Another example is how low-code developers can create more complicated workflows that span software systems, so called cross-line-of-business workflows. They can start from scratch, or they can take a no-code extension and optimize it to ensure that it can be used safely and efficiently across an entire company. They can help it to scale beyond its initial use in, for example, the accounts payable department, and make it usable for all lines of business (LoBs). Low-code is becoming increasingly relevant on the enterprise level, because it allows both business and IT teams to deliver software extensions to their LoB systems faster.
The next question is, how does all of this relate to hyperautomation? We covered some of the details about hyperautomation in the first unit in this learning journey, Business Process Primer for Citizen Developers. However, it is relevant to have that information fresh in your mind for this unit, so let’s revisit what you learned.
Hyperautomation is a relatively new term, having only appeared in the market in late 2019. It is a business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify and automate as many processes as possible. This can be achieved using multiple technologies, tools, or platforms, including many terms you may be familiar with, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), and business process management software.
Automation, without the "hyper" in front, is your basic task automation, replacing individual steps or workflows that a business has identified using software.
Hyperautomation is an expansive approach that seeks to automate and coordinate as much as possible, including the identification and improvement of processes, but with an increasing influence of AI and machine learning capabilities.
With LCNC technology, citizen developers can hyperautomate their work using these advanced technologies, which were previously only accessible in the realm of professional development.
Summary: What are Citizen Development, Low-Code / No-Code, and Hyperautomation?
Here are the most important takeaways from this lesson:
- No-code development is primarily intended to help employees that are process experts to automate tasks, build applications, or otherwise optimize their own business activities.
- Professional developers use no-code tools to accelerate their basic development work so that they can focus on more complicated concepts.
- Low-code development is designed to allow employees with software knowledge, such as process development experts and professional developers, to build and integrate end-user processes and applications, and to create WYSIWIG building blocks for no-code development.
- Hyperautomation is the application of advanced technologies to rapidly identify and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.
In our next lesson, we will discuss why an increasing number of companies are looking at LCNC development as a solution to their problems.