At a time when the monthly remuneration of software engineers in India is skyrocketing due to the rising number of technology startups, a slew of early-stage companies are looking at employing no-code, low-code (NCLC) software.
From early-stage startups looking to create products to validate their ideas to established companies experimenting with a new product, many companies rely on no-code tools as they allow for quicker deployment of software, mobile apps, and responsive websites.
Companies like Bubble, Airtable, Glide, Zapier, Adalo, Grid, Stacker, and Air Slate enable people with zero coding experience to create workflow applications and websites.
“These no-code, low-code platforms have created a new layer among the non-coders and coders. So, slowly, people are moving towards no-code platforms and launching their websites and applications without getting stressed about learning how to code and are able to launch products faster than before,” said Madhuri Maram, co-founder of Xperian, which last year launched a no-code tutorial platform, Nocoloco.
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While both no-code and low-code platforms expedite the process of building digital products and enterprises, the latter still requires the users to know some amount of programming language. This new approach to creating web and mobile apps is growing exponentially across different stages of software development in India.
Medtech startup Doc Crates uses the no-code tool by Bubble to provide health and fitness assessments. Another networking platform, Grab Chai, built its site using no-code stacks and a combination of platforms like Zapier, Airtable, and Wix.
Kunika Agarwal, a no-code enthusiast who has observed people building and scaling their enterprises through no-code, said, “I started using no-code platforms last year to build a website and found so many tools on the web. Building something on your own at a low cost and in a short amount of time has not been this easy before.”
The pandemic, which spurred the growth of digital businesses in the country, has put such platforms in the spotlight. With the growing pace of digitization, NCLC platforms allow businesses and brands to create and deploy their products quickly.
“During the pandemic, most companies implemented work from home. Whether established IT firms or early-stage startups, every entity understands the significance of time and money. No-code software ranks high on these two factors,” said Abhinav Girdhar, CEO and founder of Appy Pie. The Noida-based company offers no-code solutions to create apps, chatbots, and websites to over 7 million users.
Gautam Nimmagadda, CEO of Quixy, a no-code platform used by enterprises for application development, believes building software with just drag and drop tools would be preferred in the coming years.
A 2020 survey by Bubble on no-code and traditional programming suggests that application development with no-code tools was 4.6 times more affordable and faster. It further said these tools are almost five times easier to use compared to traditional programming.
Today, these platforms are also being used to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning models. No-code AI has enabled non-technical users to optimize their development and operational processes without writing a single line of code.
One such US-based no-code startup, Obviously AI, recently raised a seed round of USD 4.7 million led by the University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC).
Kiran Mysore, principal at UTEC Japan, thinks the impact of no-code AI and ML will be most pronounced in legacy industries such as healthcare and manufacturing, which are traditionally less digitized. He said, “Even though legacy industries have domain experts, they face trouble attracting high-quality AI engineers. No-code AI tools can enable domain experts to be self-sufficient and infer insights from data themselves, resulting in significant productivity.”
UTEC is one of Asia’s largest deep-tech VC firms with USD 800 million in total assets under management. Mysore, who leads UTEC’s global investments in AI companies, told KrASIA that most no-code tools are focused on predictive analytics that use historical data to determine future outcomes. He further explained that these no-code AI tools would advise companies to take the best possible action by evaluating outcomes for different scenarios.
Rise of proxy coders
No-code has introduced the concept of citizen developers in India. While these drag and drop platforms are democratizing the idea of developing mature business models, some users find it hard to navigate and understand these platforms.
“Earlier no-code platforms were too niche and were used by enterprises to solve problems related to their internal operations. Now, even though they are slowly becoming more prevalent, not everyone can use them to their full potential. One needs to know many things to get started,” said Maram from Xperian.
Xperian’s no-code teaching platform Nocoloco has signed up over 2,000 people in its one year of existence. “Nocolco would soon move towards cohort and web flow-based courses to help people understand no-code tools better,” Maram said.
Hardik Gandhi, founder of Zvolv, a no-code process automation platform, said every NCLC platform is unique in its design, scalability, and deployment methodologies. “Creating the final product requires familiarity with various integration aspects that most business users or citizen developers would lack.”
A certified citizen developer is usually a domain expert with no coding knowledge but has gone through basic NCLC training in their organization from their IT team and built simple applications.
While NCLC platforms are building end-to-end integrated applications, there has also ensued a debate among developers regarding the need for technical expertise, privacy, customizability, and scaling tech platforms.
Quixy’s Gautam believes that no-code would never replace professional developers but would assist them and increase more job opportunities.
“With no-code tools, entrepreneurs and enterprises can validate their product and business models, but there are limitations to it. Issues of rigid template and privacy are still a concern in certain cases,” said Vivek Bonde, an R&D developer at Finzly India Pvt. Ltd.
Bonde said people in the industry are now creating bots with no-code tools to test software. Although, he doesn’t entirely trust no-code bots for such tests. He believes as the NCLC industry matures from just creating web and mobile apps to creating complicated AI and ML models, “Even developers would have to constantly hone their skills to match the growing trends of no-code and low-code.”