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In today’s dynamic and fast-paced business ecosystem, a traditional development approach is often time-consuming and requires a lot of investment. Besides, you need highly-skilled and seasoned professionals to carry out the coding.
On the flip side of the coin, many digital trends have boomed recently, including the simplified interfaces that can help users quickly build and launch custom apps with minimal hand-coding. These factors, along with the fact that every company strives to streamline and automate its processes, allowed low code and no-code platforms to flourish.
The popularity of low-code application development has gained decent traction these days — according to Gartner, low-code is forecast to comprise over 65% of application development by 2024.
Nevertheless, low code solutions aren’t as great as you might think. In this short guide, we want to highlight the key features and pitfalls of this methodology.
What is Low Code?
As the name implies, low-code is a software development methodology where you can create apps with little coding. That said, low code automation tools are visual-driven Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) designed for rapid application development. This inclusive approach was created in response to ever-augmenting business requirements and the shortage of skilled experts.
Unlike traditional development that requires highly-skilled experts to handle all the code, low-code methodologies allow users to create apps with less manual coding through a graphical user interface (GUI) and its built-in drag-and-drop tooling. Thanks to the drag&drop technology, you can seamlessly add and move various elements, such as buttons, images, icons, text, maps, video, etc.
At the same time, low-code is different from no-code — while low-code still requires knowledge of technologies and frameworks, no-code enables users to build apps with almost no hand-coding. But let’s keep the no-code approach for later.
Usually (even based on modern agile techniques), it takes a while before you can end up with a fully-functioning product. On the other hand, low-code allows users to skip a few development cycles and get right to an MVP that can be tested with real users. That said, low-code platforms help businesses to acquire early adopters, validate an idea, and ensure faster development and delivery.
Why is Low-Code popular?
The future of coding is no coding at all. Chris Wanstrath, CEO of GitHub
Citizen developers and non-tech-savvy users can utilize low-code/no-code platforms to build custom-designed products while avoiding some hand-coding tasks. On top of that, seasoned experts and software providers can also use low-code solutions as a supplementary tool in addition to their traditional toolset.
Low code can enhance the entire workflow and propel your IT teams’ productivity by equipping them with the powerful tools for quick and smooth app creation. Now, let’s look at the major benefits this development technique can offer.
You can create solutions for several platforms in one go and demonstrate investors or stakeholders a fully-functioning MVP within the shortest time possible.
If you are about to start a new big project, you don’t have to wait for your experts to finish their projects. With low-code, you can save your time and the company’s resources by getting things done more quickly and at a lower cost compared to a traditional approach.
Low risk and high ROI
Low-code platforms are backed by the best industry standards and security practices: cross-platform support, data integration, and up-to-date security algorithms are built-in features. Hence, you can focus on more important business tasks while ensuring your entire workflow is highly protected and customized.
Most often than not, the launch day is all about unexpected problems and new emergency bugs. With low code, you can roll all changes back to a stable version with just a single click and fix the issues early on.
Lifecycle support and seamless integration
Low code platforms support the entire application development lifecycle from idea to exit, including DevOps and CI/CD. Besides, the low code platform APIs allow for external integration with tools to support project management, DevOps, testing, and CICD pipelines.
What are the cons of Low-Code?
Low-code isn’t the future of code. It certainly has a place in the future and will be leveraged to make many applications. It will not replace other ways of creating software because low-code breaks down when the solution’s complexity increases. We saw the same thing with Visual Basic in the ’90s. VB was valuable, and a lot of software was written in VB. In the end, it was complexity required by some applications that caused VB to break down and no longer be a good solution. Low code will be the same.
– Thomas Stiehm, CTO of Coveros
At first glance, low code software is a perfect solution for app development, but there are multiple drawbacks as well.
Business logic complication
Low code tools like Mendix are an excellent option for the automation of simple processes or prototyping. However, once the prototyping stage is passed, the business logic becomes more complex eventually. To develop a project any further, you’ll need an expert team. Today’s low code platforms are not perfect yet, so it’s not good to rely on them in the long run. Otherwise, you risk jeopardizing your business.
In a low code development tool, the number of functions that you can implement is limited. It is a quick way to build applications, but you do not have many options if you want to try out something different.
For sure, drag & drop functionality features can be useful under certain circumstances. But when you need a unique feature that’s not available, you will need some custom code. Sometimes integrating this custom code can also cost a lot more than a completely customized solution built from scratch.
No technical background myth
Despite the name, you still need a robust technical background to use low-code tools. Furthermore, you first need to examine basic low-code development requirements and technologies, which by itself take time to learn and adapt to.
Low-code solutions indeed have in-build security protocols, but they still can’t provide the same security level as standalone development technologies. With an application based on low-code, you have neither full control over data security or access to source code. Hence, you can’t define all the possible vulnerabilities out there.
Now that we know the major pros and cons of low-code methodology, we can understand that it is not meant to replace traditional development or professional software providers.
Instead, it’s essential for companies to utilize low-code practices to strengthen a traditional approach and fill its gaps. When combined, low-code and traditional techniques can ensure faster and more productive application development.
With this in mind, low code significantly enhances speed-to-market and improves the overall business efficiency when used in tandem with traditional methods. All in all, there is no silver bullet that can turbo-boost your business, so it’s vital to consider multiple options and get professional advice. We at Brocoders are always eager to share our best expertise with you. Please, feel free to drop us a line any time you see fit.
Previously published at https://brocoders.com/blog/low-code-development-approach/
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Google Meet gets a refreshed UI, multi-pinning, autozoom and more
Google today announced a major update to Meet, its video-meeting service, which brings several user interface tweaks for desktop users, as well as quite a bit of new functionality, including multi-pinning so that you can highlight multiple feeds instead of just one, as well as new AI-driven video capabilities for light adjustments, autozoom, and a new Data Saver feature that limits data usage on slower mobile networks.
If you’re anything like me, you’re increasingly tired of video meetings (to the point where I often just keep the camera off). But the reality is that this style of meetings will be with us for the foreseeable future, whether we like them or not.
Google notes that today’s release is meant to make meetings “more immersive, inclusive, and productive.” The new UI doesn’t look to be a radical change, but it puts more of the controls and features right at your fingertips instead of hiding them in a menu. It also consolidates them in the bottom row instead of the current system that spreads out features between the main menu bar and an additional small menu at the top.
For presenters who don’t want to see themselves on the screen, Meet now also lets you minimize or completely hide your own video feed — and if you really want to glance into your own eyes, you can also pin your feed to the rest of the grid. Google says it also plans to soon let you turn off your self-feed across all Meet calls.
Talking about pinning, one feature that seems especially useful is the ability to highlight multiple feeds. This new multi-pinning capability will make it easier to focus on the participants in a chat that are most active, for example. This feature will roll out in the coming months.
And coming in a few months, some of those highlighted feeds may look a bit more interesting (or annoying, depending on your point of view) because one new feature Google has planned — but isn’t ready to roll out yet — is video background replacement. For now, Google will only offer three scenes: a classroom, a party and a forest. The company says more will follow, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to bring your own videos to this feature anytime soon.
Other new features in this release include Meet’s capability to automatically spruce up your video feed a bit to make sure you’re more visible in a dark environment and enhance your video when you are sitting in front of a bright background. This will roll out in the coming weeks. There’s also autozoom, which uses AI to automatically zoom in on you and put you in the middle of your frame. That’s coming to paid Google Workspace subscribers in the coming months.
Creator+ raises $12M to build a film studio and streaming service focused on digital storytellers
In the words of co-founder and CEO Jonathan Shambroom, Creator+ is a new startup that will “finance, produce and distribute feature-length films from today’s top creators and emerging storytellers.”
The company is coming out of stealth today and also announcing that it has raised $12 million in funding led by Petra Group and Freestyle Capital, with participation from Jake Roper, Peter Hollens, Wendy Ayche (a.k.a. Wengie), Selina Tobaccowala, Jazwares CEO Judd Zebersky and others.
Shambroom (who’s been an executive at numerous startups and also served as general manager at Crackle) told me that one of the key aspects of the Creator+ strategy is that it controls “both sides of the equation” — it’s both producing films and building its own streaming platform, where the movies will be available for individual purchase, with no subscriptions and no ads.
He said that allows the startup to control costs and distribution, but it also “enables us to do something brand new with creators,” giving them a 50-50 split on revenue, as well as sharing audience data and ownership of the intellectual property.
“Creator” is a term that gets used pretty broadly, and Creator+ isn’t announcing any specific deals today. But co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Benjamin Grubbs (who previously led creator partnerships at YouTube) told me the company is initially focused on “storytellers and artists.”
“We recognize that there are a lot of gifted storytellers on some of these large, open, ad-supported platforms where they already reach large audiences and fan bases,” Grubbs said. “But there are constraints, whether that’s time-based or economic, on the types of stories that you can actually tell.”
So Creator+ will allow those creators to break free of some of those constraints, making feature films with budgets in the low seven figures. Shambroom said the startup wants to deliver “what people expect in a film, 90 minutes give-or-take … in many of the genres that exist today” while also allowing creators to experiment with new formats and new production technologies. In some cases, these movies could be a creator’s “passion project,” while in other cases Creator+ could match them up with the right script.
“We see a multitude of roles and opportunities for creators, both in front of or behind the camera,” Grubbs added.
Creator+ plans to put between five and 10 films into production this year, with the first titles released in 2022. Shambroom said it’s committed to supporting underrepresented storytellers and has already hired Ben O’Keefe as its head of diversity and impact. The team also has global ambitions, which is why they brought on international investors, including Malaysia-based Petra Group.
4 ways martech will shift in 2021
The tidal wave of growth is upon us — an unprecedented economic boom that will manifest later this year, bringing significant investments, acquisitions, and customer growth. But most tech companies and startups are not adequately prepared to capitalize on the opportunity that lies ahead.
Here’s how marketing in tech will shift — and what you need to know to reach more customers and accelerate growth in 2021.
First and foremost, differentiation is going to be imperative. It’s already hard enough to stand out and get noticed, and it’s about to get much more difficult as new companies emerge and investments and budgets balloon in the latter half of the year. Virtually all major companies are increasing budgets to pre-pandemic levels, but will delay those investments until the second half of the year. This will result in an increased intensity of competition that will drown out any undifferentiated players.
The second half of 2021 will bring incredible growth, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time.
Additionally, tech companies need to be mindful not to ignore the most important part of the ecosystem: people. Technology will only take you so far, and it’s not going to be enough to survive the competition. Marketing is about people, including your customers, team, partners, investors, and the broader community.
Understanding who your people are and how you can use their help to build a strong foundation and drive exponential growth is essential.
Tactically, the most successful tech companies will embrace video and experimentation in their marketing — two components that will catapult them ahead of the competition.
Ignoring these predictions, backed by empirical evidence, will be detrimental and devastating. Fasten your seatbelts: 2021 is going to be a turbo-charged year of growth opportunities for marketing in tech.
Differentiation is crucial
The explosion of tech companies and startups seeking to be the next big thing isn’t over yet. However, many of them are indistinguishable from each other and lack a compelling value proposition. Just one look at the websites of new and existing tech companies will reveal a proliferation of buzzwords and conceptual illustrations, leaving them all looking and sounding alike.
The tech companies that succeed are those that embrace one of the fundamentals of effective marketing — positioning.
In the ’80s, Al Ries and Jack Trout published Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind and coined the term, which documented the best-known approach to standing out in a noisy marketplace. As the market heats up, companies will realize the need to sharpen their positioning and dial in their focus to break through the noise.
To get attention and build traction, companies need to establish a position they can own. The “mashup method: (Netflix but for coding lessons) is not real positioning; it’s simply a lazy gimmick.
It is imperative to identify who your ideal customer is and not just who could use your product. Focusing on a segment of the market rather than the whole is, perhaps counterintuitively, the most effective approach to capturing the larger market.
Tribal Credit, which provides credit cards to startups in emerging markets, raises $34.3M
The B2B payments space has seen an explosion in demand, and investor interest, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses try to figure out how to pay each other digitally. The challenges become even more complex when dealing with cross-border payments.
Startups that were formed before the pandemic stand to benefit from the shift. One such startup, Tribal Credit, launched its beta in late 2019 to provide payment products for startups and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in emerging markets.
Today, Tribal Credit announced it has raised $34.3 million in a combined Series A and debt round led by QED Investors and Partners for Growth (PFG). Existing backers BECO Capital, Global Ventures, OTG Ventures and Endure Capital also participated in the round, along with new investor Endeavor Catalyst. The raise follows “10x” year-over-year growth, according to CEO and co-founder Amr Shady.
As part of the investment, Tribal received $3 million from the Stellar Development Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the development and growth of the open-source Stellar blockchain network.
Tribal uses a proprietary AI-driven underwriting approval process to evaluate businesses and approve them for credit lines. Those businesses can then use those credit lines to spend on Tribal’s products, Tribal Card and Tribal Pay. Tribal Card is a business Visa card that allows users to create physical and virtual multi-currency cards. Tribal Pay allows them to make payments to merchants and suppliers that don’t accept credit cards.
The company says its value proposition lies not only in its ability to provide SMEs with virtual and physical corporate cards, but also a digital platform that allows founders and CFOs “to give access to and manage the spend of their distributed teams.”
“We’ve seen more demand for making B2B online payments amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with many SMEs migrating to digital and spending more on online products and services,” Shady told TechCrunch. “Companies in this new economy are digital and global first. The need for a corporate card was accelerated. As card spend grew during the pandemic, this meant greater liability on founders’ using their personal cards, or other competing cards linked to their personal credit.”
Tribal, he said, underwrites the company without impacting the founders’ credit.
Another accelerator for its products was how the pandemic forced teams to work remotely. Founders and CFOs needed a way to provide access to corporate payments while maintaining control, Shady pointed out. Tribal’s platform aims to streamline financial operations for a distributed team.
Of course, Tribal is not the only company offering credit cards for startups. Brex, which has amassed $465 million in venture capital funding to date, also markets a credit card tailored for startups. While the companies are similar, there is a distinct difference, according to Shady: “Emerging market SMEs have different pains, particularly when it comes to cross-border payments.”
Tribal’s initial efforts are focused on Latin America, in particular Mexico, which is the startup’s biggest market.
Its new capital will go toward accelerating its growth in the region, according to Shady. In particular, the equity will go toward growing Tribal’s leadership team in Mexico, while the debt will fuel the company’s customers’ growing credit lines, Shady said.
“We have invested heavily in our product over the past year,” Shady said. “We’re the first mover in our segment in LatAm with a diverse suite of SME products that includes corporate cards, wire payments and treasury services. We’re incredibly excited by the future ahead of us in Mexico and beyond.”
Customers include Minu, Ben and Frank, Fairplay and SLM, among others.
Looking ahead, Tribal is exploring four other Latin American markets and expects to be operational in one new market by year’s end, according to Shady.
QED Investors partner Lauren Morton said her firm has been following payments and the lending needs of SMEs in emerging markets closely.
“Compared with everything else we’ve seen in this market, Tribal has a differentiated and superior product that meets customers’ needs in a way that no competitor can match,” she said in a written statement.
Morton went on to note that Tribal has had strong traction in Mexico, with adoption from “fast-growing startups” across the country, including many companies within QED’s own portfolio.
PFG is providing the debt facility for Tribal. In addition to funding from PFG’s global fund, the firm will be co-investing from its Latin America Growth Lending Fund in partnership with IDB Invest and SVB Financial Group, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank.
Tribal Credit previously raised $7.8 million in a series of seed rounds. The latest round brings its total raised to $42.1 million. Tribal Credit also joined Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program, a move that it said should accelerate its integration with Visa’s global payment network. The company currently has 75 employees, up from 31 last year.
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