The adoption of no-code and low-code (NC/LC) code tools is widespread and growing, with Gartner forecasting that 70 percent of the applications created by organizations will use NC/LC platforms by 2025 — up from less than 25 percent just two years ago. Meanwhile, their global market revenue is expected to increase from $13 billion to $65 billion along roughly the same timeline.

To fully understand the impact of adopting NC/LC platforms on software developers, however, it helps to have a clearer picture of these platforms’ capabilities, how they’re being leveraged right now — and what’s right around the corner for organizations everywhere.

breaking it down: no code vs. low code

For starters, the nomenclature itself can be a little bit misleading here. Take the term “no code,” for example. The bottom line is that every software application still relies on code, even if the creation of that code is hidden or automated. So while NC platforms might come with, say, drag-and-drop functionality, they’re nonetheless generating code based on users’ actions. Likewise, LC tools create code that developers can subsequently augment or modify to fit the needs of a given application.

In general, NC platforms are intended for use by non-developers — business people interested in building applications relevant to their areas of expertise. In the past, by contrast, these same business users would be forced to make the case for developing such an application to an in-house IT team, in which case, assuming they prevailed, the application would still take many months to complete. Not so anymore.

One final key difference to keep in mind: While LC platforms often play the same role as NC platforms, they usually require prior experience with and understanding of application development. What’s more, most LC platforms not only offer users a way to create business-critical applications, but allow for integration with other internal applications, as well.

won’t NC/LC platforms curb the demand for software developers?

Interestingly, in most cases, the answer is “no.” That is, these platforms don’t replace the need for developers, but they do stand to somewhat change the nature of their role.

The main thing is that LC platforms enable developers to quickly and easily create foundational layers of code, on top of which they can build new things, thereby reducing the amount of time and effort required to write an application. That probably explains why, according to one study, nearly half of software developers are already using NC/LC tools in some part of their workflow right now.

Of course, there are other significant reasons why adopting NC/LC tools won’t eliminate the need for developers. Let's look at four of them in a little bit more detail.

1. the proliferation of “unruly applications”

Unruly applications are applications that don’t perform as expected, for a variety of different reasons. Often, they’re the result of non-developers leveraging NC/LC tools to create new applications without appropriate input or oversight from the IT team, which can lead to escalating security risks, conflicts with other applications and worse. Equally worrying is the fact that these so-called “citizen developers” seldom fully understand the risks that can be created when introducing third-party platforms.

2. functionality and integration challenges

At the end of the day, NC/LC tools can’t do everything. If seamlessly integrating with an existing application or database is necessary, for example, doing so will still probably require the expertise of a developer.

3. risks associated with “shadow IT”

Shadow IT refers to what happens when non-IT people develop applications that touch critical internal systems without the knowledge of the IT department. As a result, IT teams are often forced to dedicate resources to completing, maintaining and supporting applications they played zero role in creating. (This can also happen when someone leaves an organization without bothering to tell anyone else how to support the app they created.)

4. increasing levels of “technical debt” across the board

Technical debt is essentially the cost of prioritizing speedy delivery over perfect code. Since this kind of debt typically goes unpaid over time, it begins to accrue — and becomes increasingly difficult to quarantine or control in turn. Over the long run, that can lead to wide-ranging inefficiencies, plus a host of other negative externalities as well.

NC/LC tools are here to stay — and developers are, too

As the adoption of NC/LC tools continues to grow at an impressive rate, so too do the employment opportunities for software and web developers, programmers, testers and others in the field. Indeed, almost 19 percent growth is forecast for these professionals over the course of the next decade. (The average growth forecast across all occupations is just 7.7 percent during that time period, by comparison). In the next two years alone, what’s more, analysts anticipate a shortage of something like 12 million software developers in the labor market worldwide.

So the need for developers isn’t going away — quite the opposite, in fact. But the nature of their role does appear to be changing.

For one thing, thanks to NC/LC tools, developers should be able to spend less time on the type of lower-level coding and maintenance work traditionally associated with application development. Rather than trying to create a user interface from scratch, developers will be able to start with a set of proven, secure, easy-to-assemble building blocks — and dedicate more time to value-adding activities as a result. It’s a win-win for everybody.

In summary, NC/LC tools stand to reduce the amount of time required to create software. In so doing, they’ll also empower organizations to complete initiatives that might have been delayed, or even abandoned, in the past. And that should translate to significantly higher ROI from your tech projects, too.

struggling to complete a software development project?

Even with the adoption of NC/LC tools, market demand for highly skilled developers remains sky-high — and we’ve touched on some of the reasons why. Meanwhile, finding them has never been harder.

Fortunately, though, Randstad can help. By leveraging our years of experience and nationwide network, you can land the qualified talent you need today. What’s more, recruiting and hiring aren't the only ways that we deliver value. We also offer customized solutions that allow you to specify your service-delivery model. From short-term contractors to full project ownership, and everything in between, choose the approach that’s best suited to your needs.

Learn more about our application development solutions today.