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IT Leaders’ Expert Responses to Resistance in Low Code

dispell myths low code app development
Shifting culture to address resistance to low code app development. [Headway/Unsplash]

Top product management executives discuss trends of resistance in low code and how IT leaders can overcome objections with data-backed answers.

We interviewed top Salesforce executives in product management Vin Addala, senior director, and Almeen Arif, director,  to hear their take on today’s objections to low code. Despite being a growing $187 billion industry, the revenue numbers themselves aren’t always enough to convince a company to implement. Vin and Almeen discuss trends of resistance and how IT leaders can overcome objections to create momentum for business innovation.

MYTH: “I don’t have time to add something to my plate. As a non-coder, learning low code seems like too much work.”

Almeen Arif: Everyone wants to do their work more efficiently. In a time where we are often bombarded with more asks than we feel we can complete, sometimes it’s hard to think we could possibly take on something else. But in the long run, the intent behind low code is to elevate efficiency.

When you instill a culture of learning, you create nimble employees that are not afraid of shifting with the times.

Vin Addala, Senior Director, Product Management, Salesforce

With tools like Lightning App Builder, Lightning Object Creator, and Lightning Flow, the Salesforce Platform makes it seamless enough that pretty much anyone can hop right in and learn to build intuitively. There are even learning platforms, such as Trailhead, that eliminate friction in educating users. “Clicks, not code” is our low-code creed. With a little intention on the front end, business users can actually save themselves time in the long run.

Vin Addala: Low code helps people see the forest through the trees. We are able to zoom out and look at what really matters.

I see empowering citizen developers as a chance to change the company from the inside out — for the better. When you instill a culture of learning, you create nimble employees that are not afraid of shifting with the times. Didn’t we see that with the pandemic? Everyone needed to pivot to digital, and less than half of employers were actually prepared for this. Combine that with a company of employees that do not have the soft skills to remain agile, and your company is in deep trouble.

But if the tools are strong enough, they will automatically protect the user.

Almeen Arif, Director, Product Management, Salesforce

On the flip side, if you proactively design a culture of a can-do attitude, your company will be more postured toward success. Teaching people low code can be seen as a burden or it can be seen as upskilling. We believe that not only are the benefits tremendous for what it can bring to productivity in the workplace from a technical perspective — but also the mindset of agility that permeates even further for sustainable long-term objectives.

MYTH: “But what if citizen developers ‘break things’? Isn’t that a problem with low code?”

AA: Yes, I can see this being an internal hesitancy. But if the tools are strong enough, they will automatically protect the user. Marla Hay, our vice president of security and privacy, just gave a great talk on this with IT Visionaries, where she said that the best kinds of tools bake permissions automatically into the app. Eric Shih, director of product management, also wrote a piece on how artificial intelligence (AI) can help support low-code by building in governance and anticipating the next best step for the user. Low code is not one-dimensional; there are many components (such as AI or security) within drag-and-drop features that set the user up for success.

MYTH: “I’ve heard engineering is facing a slow death. Do you think this is true, and will citizen developers replace the coders over time?”

VA: I used to be an engineer, so I sort of approach these low-code technologies from the perspective of trying to bridge the gap between engineer and non-engineer. Low code is not meant to replace coding by any means. In fact, it enhances it. The engineers I work with are always excited to work with citizen developers because it helps them to focus on more complex problems for the company. They get to focus on the technical problems, and non-coders focus on simple fixes.

Now, with low code, we have turnkey solutions that allow business users to take care of a problem in real time.

Vin Addala, Senior Director, Product Management, Salesforce

For example, in the past, if an IT representative is on the phone helping a customer and there is some kind of customization needed for a form, they used to have to go to a developer to fix it. Depending on the developer’s workload and backlog, it could take days or weeks to get back to it. Now, with low code, we have turnkey solutions that allow business users to take care of a problem in real time. They use something like Dynamic Forms and Dynamic Interactions and can drag-and-drop new fields instantaneously — and give the customer a call back 10 minutes later to solve the issue. This not only contributes to customer satisfaction but also that sense of employee efficacy, leading to up to 1.8x the revenue growth from the overall employee experience. 

AA: Not to mention, there’s a talent shortage. Coders are going to be in high demand because there are not enough of them out there. There are just shy of a million unfilled positions for software engineers, but only 165,000 potential applicants. So what do you do in the meantime for the remaining 80% of open positions? You build up citizen developers. They take care of the low-hanging fruit, and the technically challenging problems are left for trained developers. By classifying work as either lightweight or complex, you now focus your efforts for greater impact. It’s a win-win. Citizen developers feel empowered because they’re doing something for the good of the company; everyone is solving problems more quickly. There is less stagnancy because of fewer IT bottlenecks. You’re creating a culture of winning with a new wave of leaders. It is not a steep learning curve because anyone can build an app.

Fact: Low code can complement the efforts of professional developers

In the end, no one knows the use cases better than the people on the ground, working with the customers directly. By upskilling employees, having proper built-in governance, and using low code as an effective way to prioritize, it becomes a force multiplier for your company goals.

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Jenna Philpott Editorial Lead, Platform

Jenna Philpott is a writer for tech leaders and executives at Salesforce.

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