How low-code apps and RPA will transform your business

Photo by Denny Müller

RPA is riding a wave of popularity unseen since Furbies. Look at this AI Multiple post to see 2020 stats for the RPA industry and you'll see that we're living in automated times. And it's exciting! Yet, some businesses are still slower to the automation game than others, and there are a few reasons for this, including inflexibility (and complexity) of legacy systems, fear of the unknown, fear of robots, and perceived costs. Now let's talk about no-code and low-code, and how we can cut through most of these obstacles.

The concept behind low-code (and no-code) is based on having a simple graphical user interface (GUI) that enables almost anyone to be able to adopt and implement an otherwise complicated technological process. There's no code, or not much code, involved. And guess what? We've been using low-code applications for years – we just didn't know it. If you're glued to Microsoft Excel for instance, you're in a low-code environment that's been used to manufacture all sorts of business solutions for decades.

There are many benefits to adopting a low-code approach to digital and business transformation, so let's take a brief look at those obstacles again ...

Low-code for inflexible, complex legacy systems

Many large businesses suffer the downside of operating with cumbersome, bloated legacy systems. Yes, these are difficult to replace because they've been customised so much over the years that to replace them now could spell catastrophe. And the costs would be enormous! However, many legacy systems are still the best thing for the job regardless of who's trying to convince you to replace them. The simplest and most cost-effective route would be to empower your systems with automation.

Right now, your workforce may feel siloed because your data is siloed, and your systems are siloed, and it's difficult to find and manage the connections from one process to another. Discovering these processes is often better handled by department, whereby the very people who work with the legacy systems day in and day out know exactly what needs to change to improve their productivity. These are the people who are best placed to create low-code solutions that apply RPA to convoluted processes, increasing efficiency in a flash.

They can do this because the low-code GUI makes it easy for them. They may need some hands-on training, but if you've set up your GUI properly, the whole process of creating a bespoke solution should be a breeze. The complexity is in the background. All that your employee sees is the dashboard that enables them to work the magic at ground level and play a bigger role in the restructuring of your business.

Low-code for tackling the unknown

Well, this is where the experts come in. The unknown is only the unknown because you don't have the knowledge or know-how to get to grips with something new. If your workforce is going to become digital overnight, you'll need digital knights in armour to lay the groundwork for you, setting RPA processes in place, or at the very least consulting about best practice for the most efficient implementation.

Low-code isn't a complicated process. It's actually simple: user interfaces that make technology solutions accessible to more people throughout your organisation. And with more companies applying low-code apps, your fear of the unknown should be dispelled before it's too late. Rest in the knowledge that with an empowered digital workforce at your disposable making use of simple user interfaces to automate complicated processes, the results will show pretty quickly.

Low-code for cost benefits

The cost of digital transformation can be huge, but it's also about how you look at it. If you're not replacing legacy systems, you can keep your costs down by breaking processes down into chunks that are more readily automated. This can be done quickly, saving you not just money but precious time. You're also creating better connections between disparate departments, which will make you a leaner and more efficient business. As UiPath says in its UiPATH Apps documentation: "Users see a list of all applications available to them in a single place; they can choose to run the application or share them with other users within their organisation."

There's also the potential to create ambassadors of automation within your organisation, instead of hiring new full-time IT people to manage your creaking systems. Imagine all those people working across multiple spreadsheets with multiple versions and the chance of human error. Now that's something to be afraid of. I enjoyed reading an InfoQ article about "community developers" – employees who use enterprise systems to create solutions to accomplish specific tasks. Empowered by RPA and a low-code environment, these same people could stretch their talents even further.

Low-code for evil robots

Your fear of robots is unfounded. Really. Your new low-code automation dashboard will not become a Terminator overnight, nor will your Roomba. Generic AI will inevitably be replaced by a form of super AI, simply because technology development moves at lightning speed. Machines will not destroy humanity and our past is evidence of this. And I'm a believer in the power of technology to create jobs, not replace them. RPA, machine learning and AI will replace the tasks we don't want to do, or those tasks that become so mind-numbing that we're unable to function productively.

That's the truly frightening scenario: that you don't embrace low-code applications and automation processes, and your business suffers for it. Instead, look today at what low-code actually means and see if it's a fit for the future of your company. "Come with me if you want to live."

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