The Business Technology Battle and No Code Development Rising
Every year, a VC firm based out of New York called Work-Bench publishes an Enterprise Almanac that summarizes trends it has observed in the software world. The 2018 Enterprise Almanac presents 4 primary areas of interest including: Machine Learning, Cloud Native, Cybersecurity, and the Decentralization of SaaS. It’s the fourth category that piques our interest here at NoCodeDev, specifically slide 114:
Additional slides (direct link here to full deck from Work-Bench) provide more context, but our experience working with hundreds of businesses who chose to invest in no and low code development technologies applied to this observation would suggest that SaaS as a category might have a lifecycle based upon the cost of deploying custom developed business applications.
The Work-Bench report uses Salesforce as the archetype of SaaS in how its “No Software” campaign has delivered a significant cost savings in infrastructure and a large value add in customization that has captured more market share than many of its predecessors. However, as the cost of “in house” infrastructure goes down thanks to cloud and container technologies, that part of the “No Software” value calculation begins to decrease and the purchasing decision becomes more reliant on out of the box capability and customization potential.
We believe that no code development platforms have a significant part to play on the out of the box and customization potential side of the equation that could represent both a threat and opportunity to SaaS vendors like Salesforce. The Work-Bench report begins to address the cost of customization, but then we reach a big question mark that we’ve highlighted for you in green on slide 117:
While we agree that internal developers and technology experts might hold the keys to the internal tool kingdom, it doesn’t change the fact that they are expensive resources that will continue to be in high demand. In other words, there will be more work on the roadmap for any development team than they’ll be able to keep up with. The potential of no code development is to enable any member of the business or IT team to rapidly configure or customize internal tools and processes to fit their needs. We’ll still need developers to give us the puzzle pieces in some cases, but changes to business logic and process don’t need to be led by internal developers. Perhaps “overseen” or “enabled” would be a better word than “led”.
The No and Low Code Customization Dilemma
The challenge with the customization methods provided by major SaaS vendors, and even many no and low code development platforms is that experts are required to do that actual customization work. Let’s be clear about what we mean by “experts”. These are folks with experience in the tooling, not necessarily code. It’s not uncommon for larger Salesforce customers to hire customization experts for 6, 7, or even 8 figure contracts annually. We’ve seen many successful professional services organizations build around this need. Low code development platforms are commonly criticized for being too generic and requiring too much configuration before the actual business logic and process can be implemented.
We see two potential solutions to this problem. 1) New no code development solutions need to niche down and provide the ultimate toolbox for a specific problem domain or 2) existing players need to invest in the development of multiple toolboxes for different industries so the out of the box experience starts with more useful puzzle pieces at hand.
Will no code development kill SaaS? Probably not, but its a new threat to consider bringing into the portfolio for existing SaaS vendors.