In the last 2 years there has been a quiet revolution brewing, one that is going to touch most of our lives. We’ve coined the term NoCode to try and encapsulate what this really means; the end of traditional programmers.
The digital world brought programmers and developers out of the dark and thrust them centre-stage as creators of new, exciting and disruptive technologies but this phase is coming to an end. The development community is slipping back into dark corners as the limelight is now being hogged by the next generation of innovative thinkers that use tools to build the next generation of technologies and not manual workers from the programming world.
This is speeding up development and deployment as almost anyone can now develop an application. Take a platform such as Podio and give it to a finance bod or an HR bod and within a few hours they will have built micro-applications to deal with their individual issues. These may be temporary, and that’s a good thing as the business challenges that organisations face will change ever more quickly to issues will come and go. The temporary (or disposable) nature of the these applications don’t warrant £50k development bills but if delivered quickly and flexibly will give organisations the competitive edge they are so striving for.
This, you will not surprised to hear, is not a new approach. When PC first appeared they didn’t very much except access big mainframes controlled by old-world IT departments and armies of programmers. Then along come a company called Lotus who created 1-2-3, the world first killer application on PCs, it was a spreadsheet, not that different from Excel or Numbers that we use now. It liberated millions of managers and staffers who had no understanding of programming or structured methodologies to go build business-based applications that made a different.
When the web came along in the mid nineties, the original vision was one of a simple set of rules to interconnect information across various sources. It rapidly became very technical, by the mid-noughties the only way to stay competitive was to employ (or contract-out) programming teams to create amazingly complex systems.
This time is coming to an end. Programming languages have become simpler (take a look at Python) and a whole host of platforms (look how dominant WordPress is now) and interactive frameworks are springing up everywhere. OK, programming won’t die but it won’t carry the same weight or permanence that it once did.
Liberating software design from it’s traditional home in development departments and companies is not straightforward but huge stride are being made by approach such as Learnable Programming. Emerging digital platforms will be simpler to use and designed to be customised by business people. There is a lovely article on this by one of the lead designers at Quora, titled “Designers Will Code” – well worth a read.
Where, then, do organisations turn to? When traditional digital problems were cured using coding the world was, possibly, simpler but very expensive and slow to react. Organisations wanting to get ahead need to find good frameworks that are well supported (such as WordPress-based VNX 4.0) and then simply layer services, plugins and modules onto it to deliver the business needs. The framework takes care of the flow of information around the systems leaving business people to create simple micro-applications to fix their individual or departmental problems.
By Martin Dower