Dona Sarkar, Principal Cloud Advocate, Thursday, January 14, 2021
Whether you’re a software developer or someone who uses technology for their job, the way we work has changed over the last year. Much of the workforce was working remotely. Serving customers became a challenge. Organizations needed to transform basic pen and paper processes done in an office environment and digitize them quickly with minimal business disruption.
This massive shift required fast answers in 2020, and low-code apps were an obvious choice to fulfill the new demand. If you are looking for ways to enhance your developer approach and get work done in this new environment, you should consider low-code adoption as a component of your strategy.
Developers were already slammed with a long technology to-do list before the pandemic – now they are being asked to fundamentally reinvent how the business works. To bridge the gap, many developers and organizations relied on low-code and automation.
In the next five years, 500 million more apps will be created. That’s more than all the apps built in the last 40 years, according to the IDC. There simply aren’t enough professional code-first developers to go around for the volume of work ahead to modernize businesses. However, the good news is low-code technology is here to empower more people, regardless of coding ability, to create apps, including our free course for beginners that we created in a partnership with Udacity to learn more about how to build low-code apps using Microsoft Power Platform.
So, what trends and insights from 2020 can we carry into the future?
I see three key low-code trends every developer and tech worker should be embracing:
- Low code meets collaboration platforms – we need our business apps and solutions in the places where we can collaborate most easily.
- Automation can rescue your organization from cumbersome process – resulting in a smoother, faster business.
- Fusion developer teams, meaning teams of code-first developers and non-developers, work together to solve business problems.
- Low-code merges with collaboration platforms to bring the most valuable and commonly used apps where workers are collaborating
Use of collaboration and communication platforms like Microsoft Teams became astronomical during the pandemic. Currently, the Daily Active Users for Microsoft Teams is over 115 million. Many workers were suddenly remote, and needed easy ways to collaborate to keep the business moving. Teams is the perfect platform for collaboration, and the next step is to bring the apps they need the most and put them right within Teams, where workers are spending more and more time.
Something we are hearing from customers is the need for data-driven insights on their business, a self-service way to have those insights available to them anytime they want, and being able to easily communicate the actions they could take on those insights.
The American Red Cross is doing this incredibly well. The American Red Cross provides emergency assistance and disaster relief in the United States. Their workforce is widely distributed and when they respond to a disaster, they need simple, clear communication and collaboration tools. To communicate amongst themselves, they use Teams. When they need to collaborate and act on a disaster response, they use Microsoft Power BI within Teams to show data using whatever filters and pivots are needed for a specific insight, and they use Microsoft Power Apps to help people act on that data.
We have heard from large customers that once their non-developer employees start using Teams, they quickly discover Power Apps within Teams and start building apps for the group without leaving the Teams app at all.
An easy way to start is using a feature called Microsoft Dataverse for Teams. This is a built-in, low-code data platform for Teams that lets you build and edit custom apps and workflows using Power Platform and publish them for anyone in your Teams group to use without having to switch between apps. People with code or no-code experience can easily build apps from scratch or use one of our pre-built templates as a starting point. Learn additional details about how to create apps with Microsoft Dataverse for Teams.
- Automation will help you resolve the hiccups it takes to run your organization
If you work in IT or know someone who does, you know there is a lot of manual work on a day-to-day basis. There are updates to install and configuring to do for various servers, machines, and apps. Once our IT friends discover that they can automate many of these tasks, their life becomes much easier. In fact, every month Power Automate takes more than 25 billion automated actions on behalf of its users.
For example, an IT worker could create a basic automation to check for Windows updates and have them installed using our new Microsoft Power Automate Desktop automation toolset, saving hundreds of hours every month.
Sometimes it’s nice to get advice on how your IT department can be more efficient, and what better way than through analyzing your existing processes. We recently introduced process advisor, which helps you identify where you can reduce manual work and introduce automation in your organization.
At PharmScript, a pharmacy provider to long-term care and post-acute care facilities, they use Power Automate Desktop and our new process advisor preview release to automate time and resource-consuming tasks. By using the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) functionality of Power Automate, PharmScript fully automate many of their end-to-end processes, from report generation, data validation, and processing – saving more than 90 hours per month that can be devoted to higher-value work.
To further optimize its automated processes, PharmScript is using the preview version of process advisor to visually map and understand the end-of-month lifecycle of order billing process, including how long it takes and the steps in the process and its variations. By discovering bottlenecks, they can then optimize the billing process, and use process advisor to capture and analyze more processes throughout the organization. Automation with Power Platform is an excellent way to help IT admins learn IT dev and governance skills. You can learn a lot more about our newest offerings for automating automation with Power Platform.
- Fusion developer teams will collaborate to create tomorrow’s apps and tech solutions, from the top down and bottom up
Fusion developer teams are a new industry concept.
In short, these are teams (or virtual teams) of code-first developers, citizen developers (people creating low-code apps without a traditional developer background), and IT developers working together to solve business problems. More organizations are creating fusion developer teams because they are realizing it’s not an OR between high-code or low-code tools – it’s an AND.
We have observed two interesting ways that fusion developer teams are working together. The first one is where the code-first dev writes backend APIs and connectors and realizes they can help others in their company use these in Power Apps. They store their API in tools like Azure API Management so low-code devs can use them to build what they need. The second way is where the code-first dev acts as an “architect” to plan all of the app-building work so that app building projects are more strategic and planned rather than one-off solutions.
We have also partnered with GitHub to integrate Power Apps with GitHub Actions so that teams of code-first devs and non-code first devs can collaborate on app-building projects together. You can learn more about this from our on-demand webinar, “Develop, test, and deliver applications with GitHub Actions for Power Platform.”
This new way of working is a new normal. Most importantly, these unusual circumstances are creating innovation opportunities to shift how developers and tech users think about their work, and low code is an increasingly important part of that new thinking.
To learn more about how to build low-code apps using Power Platform, check out our free course for beginners that we created in a partnership with Udacity. You can also find additional details from our Power Platform documentation.