At the end of World War II, much of continental Europe lay in ruins. Residential buildings, hospitals, schools, transportation facilities had been destroyed and now needed to be rebuilt. Urban reconstruction was an enormous challenge, made even worse by the lack of workforce. So, large numbers of migrant workers were recruited from less developed countries to help rebuild cities and infrastructure.
The need to build
Thankfully, now there is no world war raging, but the IT industry today is facing the same challenge as Europe did in 1945: a lack of workers, more specifically qualified development experts. By increasing demand for digital solutions, COVID-19 has only compounded the problem. The pandemic has been the main driver behind the need for building out digital infrastructure: more and more companies want to rebuild their processes on a digital framework, and they are looking to hire the right professionals. So, there is a large number of tech jobs that many countries are struggling to fill, as this graph from the State of European Tech 2020 report shows.
With no experts to take on almost 60% of its tech jobs in 2020, Portugal is worse off than any other country listed in the report, but the percentage was well over 40% in most of the other countries as well. Even though a recent Statista survey predicts worldwide full-time employment in the ICT (information and communication technology) sector to reach 62 million by 2023, the current shortage is severe and it is not caused by the pandemic alone. Here are some of the other reasons for the scarcity:
- talent pool is limited (often due to the lack of relevant skills and industry knowledge)
- demand for specific technologies and/or programming languages is not met
- educational background is insufficient (e.g. a Bachelor’s degree is required)
- market competition for experienced professionals is fierce
Most companies try to respond to the challenge by using the same strategies: offshoring, outsourcing and headhunting. Unfortunately, none of these solutions is optimal, in fact, they only present additional problems. Though they are two distinct business strategies, offshoring and outsourcing have some of the same disadvantages – time zone differences, cultural and language barriers, potential security issues – while headhunters, in addition to being expensive, often don’t fully understand their clients’ technical requirements and so cannot guarantee that you will get the best talent once the recruitment process is over. So, these three approaches are not so much solutions as different ways to reach the same limited pool of prospective candidates.
The consequences of this shortage can be serious for companies in any sector and of all sizes. Apart from the financial losses they might suffer, many of them may not be able to keep up with business demands, or will end up with a huge backlog of application development requests to catch up on. For these businesses, fast and secure delivery is only a pipe dream. The good news is that there is a solution: low code development platforms.
Let low code build
“Low code” is an umbrella term for solutions that require users to have very little knowledge of coding and programming languages. It’s an agile software development approach that has been steadily gaining popularity over the past decade, one that enables you to create, deploy and manage applications with minimal hand-coding, setup and training. Just because it makes the entire process of app development easier and faster, however, doesn’t mean that adopting a low code platform requires no careful planning. Indeed, if you see low code only as the chief means of making your existing development team work faster, you may be disappointed. Most developers tend to resist the change. They may feel threatened by being forced to give up their preferred tools in favor of visual development, which they often view as inferior to traditional coding.
The real strength of low code is that it enables a whole new group of people to become developers. Why fight with other companies for limited resources when you can expand the pool of potential developers yourself? By using low code, business professionals who have no formal training in programming, so-called citizen developers, can relieve IT technologists of the bulk of app development work, and as they acquire more and more skills, some of them may even evolve into expert developers themselves.
When adopted correctly, low code improves the efficiency of app development projects and the quality of the outcomes. It’s a holistic approach that finds a way around the problems encountered during a classic development process, which typically looks like this:
- The project manager – oftentimes a non-developer and unfamiliar with the process – spends a lot of time collecting requirements from business users.
- Since business users aren’t IT professionals, those requirements often don’t represent the best possible technical, or even business, solution.
- As a result, the development team has to implement something that is unnecessarily complicated or perhaps cannot be implemented or, worse yet, doesn’t solve the problem.
- The first release then is less than optimal, to say the least, and more rework is inevitable.
Building a team
We at SIB Visions see the truth in the old phrase “United we stand, divided we fall,” and recommend setting up the ideal low code team to remove all these drawbacks. This “fusion team” should comprise business users, one or two software developers and people with an analytical mindset.
Business users are familiar with the processes, the problems and the users, so are in a better position to understand how processes can be improved, how problems can be solved, and how users can best be served. Acting as citizen developers, they will handle most of the app development work, so there is no need for knowledge transfer or detailed specification, and the requirements phase can be shortened.
A software developer on the team will take on the more complex tasks that require code, while making sure that technical needs are met. With the right low code platform, they won’t feel uneasy about the new development environment because they can continue to use their preferred tools and at the same time easily collaborate with citizen developers. We designed our low code platform VisionX to enable the smoothest possible way to alternate between coding and visual development.
Defining the new digital process and project deliverables, as well as assessing potential risks are an essential part of the software development process. People with a strong analytical background, such as mathematics, physics or mechatronics have the ability to carry out these tasks, while adapting and refining project requirements throughout the development, if necessary.
Simply put, business users know what works (and what doesn’t), software developers do the more specialized tasks, and analysts help maintain the necessary balance for successful cooperation. Your low code team as a whole ensures that your app-building projects address your real business needs, meet technical requirements and allow for strategic planning.
Low code platforms open up opportunities for your business and your team to become highly efficient and innovative, helping to ease the acute IT talent shortage in the process. With low code, you can streamline and simplify your digital reconstruction.
Contact us and find out more about how your business can benefit from VisionX.