By Agam Shah
Chief information officers, on the hook to automate manual and
repetitive business processes, are increasingly turning to tools
designed to create applications quickly, without the sweat of
writing and debugging lines of code.
Collectively known as "low-code," these tools have been
available in some form for decades. But they have grown more
popular with information-technology staff and other departments as
workplace automation grows and young, mobile-savvy people join the
With low-code, employees can quickly make apps by picking,
dragging and dropping from a collection of ready-made software
Johnson Controls International PLC, an Ireland-based industrial
and technology conglomerate that makes heating, ventilation, and
air conditioning systems, tapped nontech employees like engineers
to create low-code dashboards that track installations, record
project metrics and manage service calls, said Chief Information
Officer Nancy Berce.
The company, which has about 105,000 employees across more than
100 countries, set up guardrails so the low-code apps don't disrupt
the resiliency of its central systems, she said.
"A lot of people are creating a lot of good things; how do we
start to share that and make that more available to broader users?
We haven't quite figured that one out yet. That's the next level of
maturity," Ms. Berce said.
Freeing up staff to focus on core technology issues was one of
the reasons St. Luke's University Health Network in Pennsylvania
started using low-code, said CIO Chad Brisendine.
"There's always a bigger appetite for IT than what we're able to
provide. I see this as helping meet that demand," Mr. Brisendine
IT employees turned to low-code to build more than 20
applications using Microsoft Corp. tools. None of them took more
than 20 hours to create.
It took eight hours to make an app that pulls information from
the hospital's systems, including a Workday Inc. platform, to track
and send reminders to staff on continuing medical training, a
requirement for doctors to retain their license. The author, an
analyst in the IT department, didn't know how to code, Mr.
Mr. Brisendine next year plans to expand low-code training to
more business units within St. Luke's, which has about 15,000
Companies including Siemens AG, Appian Corp., Pegasystems Inc.
and Salesforce.com Inc. also provide low-code tools.
Forms of low-code have been around for decades, but combining it
with the use of application programming interfaces, chunks of code
designed to connect systems and platforms and share data, has made
it easier for those not conversant in C++ or Java to create
applications with a punch, said Jason Wong, senior director at
research and advisory company Gartner Inc.
Gartner is projecting that low-code will account for more than
65% of application development activity by 2024.
David Hoag, CIO at Chicago-based Options Clearing Corp., a
central clearinghouse serving as a backstop for trades in the
options market, said making low-code applications is as easy as
dragging and dropping widgets.
The company used low-code to develop a visitor-registration
system as part of an "app a day" program, where technology teams
work with other departments to create applications to solve
pressing business problems. The system, created in less than a day,
registers visitors, logs arrival and departure times, captures
visitor and badge information, and helps the facilities team
generate reports on visitor activity.
Similar commercial software was quoted at costing between
$30,000 and $50,000 a year, Mr. Hoag said.
OCC started building low-code apps in 2015 and today uses about
30 of them. Mr. Hoag sees low-code's use spreading beyond IT.
"More people will be entering the workforce who have the
foundational skills necessary to run with these things. Even if
to implement low-code systems," Mr. Hoag said.
Write to Agam Shah at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 14, 2019 19:09 ET (00:09 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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