Low-code development is just what it sounds like: a development methodology with little coding requirements.
In place of hand-coding, developers use a graphical interface to drag and drop the functional components they want to incorporate into an application (no more testing the save and delete buttons).
Low-code development makes creating custom apps more accessible than ever before. In fact, even people with minimal development expertise can use it to build fully functioning apps — and more than 65% of application development activity is predicted to be low code by 2024. This is great news for hiring and business managers alike.
To the public sector in particular, this development could be key to digital transformation efforts. After all, improving service delivery in government by bringing services online or to mobile devices has been a priority for years now. However, it has also been a stumbling block for state and local governments due to the technical expertise required for mapping out custom development projects, connecting to legacy applications, and dealing with large data silos.
Besides this, low-code development also aligns with the needs of government technology leaders and the tech-savvy citizens they serve. The vast majority of public sector leaders (78%) indicate that they need a faster and simpler way to develop applications. Because low code does exactly that, it’s unfortunate that 40% of these leaders have never heard of it.
Obstacles to Low Code’s Adoption
Because low-code methodology isn’t common in the public sector yet, it’s off the radar of many government technology leaders . But even those who are familiar with low-code development haven’t rushed to embrace it. Why?
It’s partly a funding problem. Cash-strapped agencies aren’t as eager to invest in new apps. Time is also an issue, as agencies assume they don’t have enough of it to truly turn their attention toward government digital transformation amid more urgent problems. There’s also a tendency among government offices at all levels to move slowly and cautiously when it comes to newer technology. All of these are valid concerns.
However, the benefits of implementing low code should be the catalyst for this new way of development. Governments have a pressing need to embrace adaptable technology given that the COVID-19 pandemic changed so much about how they function and serve citizens.
Learning From COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced government offices to temporarily close their doors to the public, low-code development helped some localities shift their services online at a rapid speed.
Case in point: To aid citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic, around three-quarters of state governments had deployed chatbots by June 2020. The chatbots helped answer questions and provide information about everything from pandemic restrictions to unemployment insurance. The benefit of chatbots from a customer experience perspective is that citizens were receiving unified and relevant information and resources, which was important in a time when social media and fear were causing misinformation to run rampant. In addition, the chatbots were relatively easy to deploy thanks to low-code workflow automation.
Low code certainly proved its worth during the pandemic. However, it will be even more important after new cases fall to near zero. Following a prolonged period in which much of everyday life relied on digital channels, public demand to complete nearly any task online will be stronger than ever. Governments that used low-code development to shift services online won’t be able to revert back to long lines and paper processing. Furthermore, public service providers that haven’t yet gone online will face even louder calls for government modernization.
The period after COVID-19 ends will require bold new thinking about what government services look like. That might be a challenge, however, as the more than yearlong pandemic has created digital transformation fatigue inside the public sector. Citizens have adopted at the cost of essential employees’ relentless efforts to keep the world moving. Once the government has a chance to breathe, citizens’ digital demands will still be present. Government must transform the “shutdown” era tech rush into a thoughtful and strategic long-term plan to maintain and expand digital services.
A New Paradigm in Government Modernization
All in all, COVID-19 only accelerated a number of existing trends pushing governments away from customized software and toward a faster, more agile approach.
Those invested in government technology have long understood it’s time for a new approach: one that utilizes living technology that can be updated and amended whenever, wherever, and one that embraces technology and meets the digital needs of the public. These changes are not nice-to-haves, but rather mandatory in an ever-shifting digital environment.
Governments can meet this moment — and comply with legislation requiring faster tech implementations — with low-code development. The right platform paired with the right people, processes, and project management can make building impressive and effective applications incredibly simple.
Rebekah Dorworth is the president of Kyra Solutions, a trusted government partner specializing in the art and science of digital transformation and modernization. With decades of experience assisting clients in the public sector, Kyra Solutions understands the pain points government agencies face and provides forward-thinking solutions that help capable employees carry out their best work. In her role at Kyra Solutions, Rebekah drives operational excellence by executing the strategic vision. She has been with Kyra Solutions for more than six years.