The largest tech companies launched no-code platforms, a number of startups announced fundraising rounds that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, and as a result of these changes and others, the concept of building custom software without code has become buzzy and resonant for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 50.
At AirDev, three of the key highlights that stand out when we consider a year of changes in no-code are:
- The big three cloud players are now officially all competing in the space: Microsoft had been the leader for simple no-code app development (e.g. the ability to build an internal expense reporting tool) with its PowerApps suite. Playing catch up, Amazon launched Honeycode in June and Google launched its Business Application Platform for GCP in September. Millions of users now have access to basic no-code platforms bundled into their existing licenses.
- Enterprise licensing barriers are falling: While some platforms like Unqork, OutSystems and Mendix still require 5-7 figure licenses to host applications on their platforms, new entrants are offering B2C pricing that makes it possible for anyone to get started building complex applications without code.
- Three distinct categories of no-code are emerging: Vertical-specific no-code, like Innoveo and Ushur, in categories like financial services and insurance; functionality-specific no-code like Zapier for workflow automations and Airtable for relational databases, and comprehensive no-code like Bubble and Unqork for full-stack development of applications.
These 3 trends and the acceleration of no-code in general were turbocharged by the pandemic and resulting sudden need to move all kinds of interactions online. Tight deadlines, slashed budgets, and increased adoption of cloud hosting all combined to boost no-code.
Looking to the year ahead, the key trends we’re watching out for in 2021 are:
- Emergence of best in class no-code for native mobile: To date we’ve seen scalable, extensible no-code for web-applications, but no truly excellent option for native mobile. 2021 may be the year this changes.
- Growing competition from nimble onshore firms utilizing no-code / low-code platforms: The world’s largest IT firms like Accenture and Infosys have traditionally powered the custom software needs of the Fortune 1000 with their extensive teams of overseas engineers in India and Eastern Europe. We’re seeing companies starting to favor localized players armed with no-code platforms to update in hours/days what might take an overseas team weeks/months to turn around, and are keeping an eye out for further shifts in this direction in 2021.
- No-code encroaching on clickthrough wireframes like InVision and Figma: While static mockups like InVision and Figma are great for conveying look and feel, selling stakeholders on the vision for an application, and soliciting opinions from prospective users, they aren’t able to generate real user data to inform product direction. We’re seeing no-code supplanting clickthrough wireframes for the prototyping phase of product development, and are watching for the further development of this trend.
- No-code powering production-grade software: At the opposite end of the product development spectrum from wireframes — production-grade solutions — we’re seeing companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100 launching applications built in no-code. 2020 brought examples of CTOs at major corporations greenlighting no-code software products in contexts like consumer banking. Now that this milestone has been crossed, we expect that trend to pick up significantly across industries and company stages.
Seeing different top trends in no-code from 2020 or for the coming year? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.