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Chasing COVID-19’s Low-Code Boom

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How companies of all sizes are building new apps with no coding experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent need for new online apps and services across the public and private sectors. Over the past few months, we’ve watched schools use apps to track attendance in their new virtual classrooms. Hospitals are spinning up new mobile functionalities to track COVID-19 response. The public sector is using new software to deliver meals to the needy, among many other things. And banks are creating new web portals to meet the exploding demand for loans. That’s why low-code development, which enables people with no coding skills to build apps, is taking off in a huge way. 

In fact, Forrester Research projects the low-code market will double in size to $14 billion by 2024. The beauty of low-code is that it turns business people into citizen developers, expanding their ability to either collaborate with IT departments to develop critical apps more quickly or develop those apps on their own. 

Jeff Berger, Salesforce admin at Academy Bank, which offers personal and commercial banking services in four states, demonstrates the more strategic nature of low-code development today. His team built a Salesforce app from scratch in just five hours to ease the loan application process. 

“Like many banks over the past couple of weeks, we were scrambling to get something done for the Paycheck Protections Programs (PPP) that was part of the CARES act,” he says. Berger recounts getting a request from his boss to help with reporting on and tracking the large volume of PPP loan applications they were receiving. Berger needed to turn that new process into an app as fast as possible to help the company figure out how to best allocate resources. 

Another big need was finding a way for bank tellers to ascertain the status of loan applications. Berger used to periodically publish a spreadsheet on a web portal for people to check. But, he says, he decided to create a more dynamic list view in Salesforce, shared publicly, with real-time updates, so people get up-to-date information on their application status. 

Low-code development is especially important for remote workers and users — these days, that’s most of us — who need to share and access collaborative tools across teams. One example: a virtual training program launched by Deloitte, Deloitte Digital’s Salesforce Academy, which replaced an on-campus hiring and training program when campuses shut down in March. 

The bootcamp-style program features webinars, instructional sessions, and curated learning paths, intending to teach students the basics of Salesforce and prepare them for a career in the consulting business. Deloitte tracks learning through a custom-built portal in Salesforce Communities. Owing to the speed of low-code development, Deloitte launched the program quickly and saw strong student engagement, with more than 300 students earning more than 14,000 training badges in a matter of weeks. 

Hearing the need from customers for more robust low-code options within its Lightning App Builder, we recently launched two new features, called Dynamic Forms and Dynamic Actions. These features add new point-and-click functionality so users can more easily customize their apps for each end user. 

In many cases, recovery and regrowth from the fallout of COVID-19 will depend largely upon an organization’s ability to pivot quickly and respond to unforeseen demands. And it’s not just small business owners who are urgently adopting this trend. CIOs everywhere are feeling this digital imperative, too, of course. We’re seeing organizations of every size, shape, and industry build apps fast to respond to business and economic changes. 

“Pre-COVID, low-code didn’t really get to the CIO level,” Gartner VP and research analyst Jason Wong tells the Wall Street Journal. “The pandemic elevated it to a more strategic position.”

This is all to say that while low-code application development has existed for years, it has become more relevant than ever before. The pandemic has clearly created a tipping point in awareness and adoption of low-code technology is likely to continue to accelerate even when the pandemic is said and done.

Catch Salesforce’s recent virtual event Low Code Love to learn how a range of customers — across sectors — rely on low-code development  to quickly respond to changing needs. 


Ryan Ellis SVP of Product Management

Ryan Ellis is Senior Vice President of Product Management at Salesforce. He oversees the company’s UI and mobile technologies, which are used to create modern, dynamic web and mobile applications using low-code tools and standards-based frameworks. Previously, Ryan was responsible for Salesforce’s AppExchange Marketplace, the world’s largest business app store. He’s also held a variety of product management and development roles at several small financial services technology companies. Ryan is on the board of the San Francisco SPCA, and holds a BA in Mathematics from Harvard University.

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