The low-no-code series – Daylight Automation: The role of structured data & governance

The Computer Weekly Developer Network gets high-brow on low-code and no-code (LC/NC) technologies in an analysis series designed to uncover some of the nuances and particularities of this approach to software application development.

Looking at the core mechanics of the applications, suites, platforms and services in this space, we seek to understand not just how apps are being built this way, but also… what shape, form, function and status these apps exist as… and what the implications are for enterprise software built this way, once it exists in live production environments.

This piece is written by Art Harrison in his position as chief growth officer at Daylight Automation – a company known for its workflow automation software and designed to tackle repetitive office processes.

Harrison writes as follows…

We’ve heard time and again how the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of many organisations. When lockdowns hit and employers had to enable a remote workforce, many invested in technologies that could help employees continue their jobs at home and still serve customers as needed. For some, those technologies were low-code/no-code platforms.

Low-code and no-code platforms have seen a rise, for the most part, due to their ability to enable teams to rapidly build solutions. They allow employees to transform processes that they use day-to-day into automated, digital experiences, helping to increase employee productivity and innovation.

Instead of inheriting technology that has been part of a year-long project, with low-code/no-code platforms, process owners and users are involved from the start. They’re empowered to become citizen developers and understand the “what’s in it for me?” factor from the outset, increasing the likelihood that the technology will be adopted – something many organizations have struggled with in the past.

Data delineation & design

The technology investments large organisations make are usually to offset the cumbersome legacy systems they have to deal with. In a desire to automate core and non-core processes, companies have invested in tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) and process mining, but they’re missing one key ingredient: structured data.

Without data that can power the aforementioned technologies, they don’t serve their intended purpose.

For example, if OCR is used to extract customer data from a PDF there is still a possibility that the captured data will be inaccurate and will require manual intervention.

With a low-code/no-code platform, manual processes that tend to be error-prone turn into data capture tools that send structured data downstream. So, instead of RPA leveraging the wrong data that came from OCR, it has a clean slate to work with.

Governance (model) insistence

The rise of citizen developers and business technologists who are running with no-code solutions can make the IT function a bit weary. After all, they’re used to being the gatekeeper of all technology. When low-code no-code platforms are properly implemented by cross-functional teams, they should have the autonomy to launch new workflows and processes without IT over their shoulder – but, that doesn’t mean the governance model goes out the window.

With low-code (and in particular) no-code solutions, IT’s role changes. They take on an influencing role and cultivate a governance model that works with citizen developers and cross-functional teams, instead of pushing a top-down approach.

Low-code and no-code solutions aren’t going to reduce head count or remove the need for developers. However, they will allow your sought-after software engineers to focus on larger, high-impact projects. The smaller, internal processes can be saved by low-code/no-code solutions, accelerating the digital transformation organisations have been seeking for years.

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