Over the past year, it’s become extremely clichéd to say that the world is in crisis – but it’s true. Public health services have been put under severe strain by COVID-19, and businesses face a difficult year due to its economic impact. Individuals may be facing mental health challenges due to anxiety, stress, or changing financial, professional, and personal circumstances.
Fujitsu has been working closely with organisations throughout 2020, assisting them by solving those problems that it’s in our power to solve. One of the ways we have done this is by co-creating high value applications using low code application development.
In the past, low code platforms, solutions, and applications have been dismissed by businesses and technical talent alike. ‘They don’t deliver value, because they’re too simplistic,’ or, ‘The skills aren’t in demand, so why would I learn them?’ have been common refrains. But the reality is that in today’s world, with the ever-advancing capabilities of low code platforms, these applications do deliver value, and can have a very real societal impact.
Meeting urgent needs
The truth is that a world in crisis can’t afford to wait for the solutions it needs. Businesses, charities, and society as a whole face problems that need to be solved now: in the next week or month, not in the next year. The struggle is that while we might know how to solve those problems, the solutions often aren’t simple. They might not be easy, and they probably won’t look like ‘quick wins’ or fast resolutions.
On top of that, these challenges need to be tackled in a way that’s accessible, easily usable and sustainable in the long term. In an ideal world, that would mean technically excellent solutions with a great user interface and experience. Each would be built in an extensible, flexible way in order to ensure that they are adaptable as the business’, customers’ or society’s needs change.
The COVID-19 crisis is a prime example. We needed track and trace applications, test booking applications, public health tracking applications (such as KCL’s ZOE), and we needed it all yesterday. Governments took different approaches, but on the whole, it was hard to avoid a sense of panic.
Using the low code platform OutSystems, however, Fujitsu has been able to create the ‘ideal world’ solution for Rock2Recovery, an organisation dedicated to helping veterans. Together, we solved the business problem, helped those in crisis, and went above and beyond to support our users. Best of all, we did it in just five days of development. Within six weeks, the application was being used across Rock2Recovery, and within eight, it had saved a life. You can hear more about Rock2Recovery and their journey with Fujitsu at ActivateNow.
Democratising application development
The positive societal impact of low code goes beyond its speed, though. It’s also making development more accessible to people without technical skills. This is something that’s often discussed in terms of creating ‘citizen developers’ or ‘power users’, who are able to solve their own business problems without troubling their IT organisation or requiring professional developers’ assistance. While this is true for some low code solutions, many more advanced low code platforms still need expert users to produce the best results.
But even without eliminating the need for highly technical people, low code platforms still democratise application development.
They make applications’ ‘internal parts’ easily understood – logic and elements are shown visually, not as lines of code. They become digestible rather than overwhelming.
Low code platforms make progress and work visible at an earlier stage. Incremental advances become more tangible: rather than seeing a static screen as a marker for UI/UX progress, people can see multiple screens, linked by clicks or touches or working buttons. So, the non-technical people find it much easier to grasp developers’ effort and progress over time.
These tools also enable faster feedback loops, so non-technical people’s voices are heard more regularly, and the team collaborates as a whole. Because of the speed of low code development, meaningful changes are delivered daily. Reviews happen more frequently, and transparency is enhanced – no more hiding away in dark rooms for two weeks between demos!
Accessibility for all
As the world becomes ever more digitalised in the wake of COVID-19, it is critically important that technology and applications remain accessible to each and every member of society. As part of the Fujitsu Way, we are committed to digital accessibility, and to working with partners and technologies that make this happen.
Low code development platforms like OutSystems have implemented ‘accessibility by design’ in their applications, meaning that out of the box, pre-created screens meet guidelines for accessibility. In addition, they have tooling and review processes to ensure any applications developed in the platform remain accessible to all.
And, of course, the applications developed on OutSystems are not only low code, but also multi-experience – offering a number of ways to access and interact with the applications, via multiple form factors, like a mobile or smart watch.
Moreover, fine-tuned user interfaces mean that minimal technical know-how is needed to use most if not all low code applications. Where any training is needed for the use of business applications, this is minimal – Rock2Recovery trained their own business in under two hours after a briefing with Fujitsu.
Low code, high value
I could go on and on, but these are just some of the ways low code can deliver high value. In reality, the possibilities are endless.
Fujitsu is currently exploring how we can enable police officers to spend more time on the beat and less time doing paperwork, and it’s fair to say using a low code platform has helped us to develop an innovative and effective solution.
All in all, if you want high value, don’t ignore low code.
Want to explore how Fujitsu can enable your digital transformation with low code? Take a look at our Multi-Experience Development services page.