There’s a preconception of life in the enterprise as fundamentally unfriendly to innovation, because enterprises are cumbersome and slow-moving. If working at a startup is like driving a speedboat, the thinking goes, working at an enterprise is like steering a cruise ship.
It’s not totally incorrect. For much of my career, I consulted enterprise business operations teams. I saw how legacy systems, byzantine processes, and bureaucratic decision-making structures can inhibit enterprise innovation, along with the more individual ability of employees to ideate and implement creative solutions to hard problems.
This is why you hear some folks deride the enterprise experience. Those who deride it the most can rightly be defined as “makers” — or, technically curious people who, though they might lack the ability to code, get energized tinkering, creating, and launching self-made tools and automating elements of their work. They become frustrated by life in the enterprise because while they have good ideas, and no shortage of inspiration to act on them, to create anything new, they have to finesse their way through political hoops and win the approval and creative partnership of what’s likely an already-backlogged IT department. It’s exasperating.
But all that is changing. And it’s because of no-code.
Of course, there’s been lots of buzz about no-code and low-code technology of late. Venture funding is pouring into the coffers of providers of no-code/low-code technology. (The low-code/no-code market is projected to hit $86.9 billion by 2027.) And far from this being a fringe trend, large enterprises — from Microsoft to SAP to Salesforce — are investing in or building their own no-code/low-code platforms.
So why haven’t enterprise makers benefitted from no-code’s impact? Well, the problem for enterprise makers is adoption in the enterprise has been focused mostly around low-code. And low-code technology is in fact much harder to use or innovate with for non-technical makers than no-code. In the enterprise, especially, for a maker to benefit from low-code functionality, they’ll still need lots of IT support. In fact, they’ll need to jump through the same hoops — reaching out to IT or to an internal developer, waiting for the problem to be addressed, undergoing intensive training yourself — as when they need help using technology currently at their disposal.
The issue, in this sense, is lack of empowerment. Solo-preneurs have the power, and tools, at their disposal to “make.” But enterprise makers are usually guarded from the resources they need, and for the most part, don’t have the tools to “make.”
Why the insistence on low-code over no-code in the enterprise? Mostly, it’s due to this notion that no-code, by virtue of its accessibility, isn’t “enterprise-grade.” Decision-makers in the enterprise think no-code tools are good only for helping non-technical folks make “toys” and other limited technological solutions. Leaders in enterprise IT departments, meanwhile, worry about the potential of no-code builders for creating Shadow IT (in the way of unvetted applications that introduce unvetted volatility into the tech stech). They likewise doubt whether no-code can support the complexity of the problems they’re trying to fix — anything more involved, really, than basic point-to-point data tasks. Instead, such solutions demand custom code.
But this is no longer true; certain no-code platforms are now enterprise-grade.
Application builders like Unqork and Betty Blocks, and process orchestration platforms like Tonkean have changed what’s possible to accomplish with no-code. These are tools that empower enterprise makers to create programs, automate workflows, and orchestrate operations. They’re capable of powering not just basic tasks, but entire processes end-to-end.
And the best of these do so in a way that doesn’t compromise IT’s governance over the company’s data or system access. Accessibility, componentization, customizability, and security are all fundamental to the architecture of the software itself. No-code tools can be used today to empower enterprise makers who’ve long quietly languished. Makers just need the right kind of enterprise-grade no-code tool to thrive. Startup speed, with enterprise safety and security.
Makers are doers, and they exist in orgs of all shapes and sizes. It’s important that no-code solutions cater to the problems enterprise makers are trying to solve, like connecting data in multiple systems, gathering information and decisions from multiple teams and individuals, automating mundane work. Anyone that’s worked in a large org knows how much fluff “work” there is in a knowledge worker’s day-to-day life. There exists much desire to solve these problems on the part of makers, but the toolset just isn’t usually there. Until now.
But enterprises should also consider no-code tools for their own sake.
They’ll quickly prove economically prudent. No-code platforms could obviate the need for enterprises to rely on packaged apps to solve individual point problems, as they’ll be able to just customize existing tools — transforming the goal of shopping for new solutions from accomplishing individual tasks to augmenting and holistically improving end-to-end processes.
Providing users the ability to make their own solutions, meanwhile — be they personal or departmental in scope — will be something employers of maker-mentality increasingly demand. For enterprises, this will make providing access to no-code a means of competing for top talent.
The simple fact is, you will no longer need to be a coder to be technically creative. Nor do you need to work for a swift-moving startup. Makers have always abounded inside the enterprise. Now, all with an itch to get their fingers dirty creating new things will have the means to do so. All you need are the right tools.
Once we’re all so equipped, it’s hard to imagine what we’ll start coming up with.