The low-no-code series - Mulesoft: Fusion team profusion vs. shadow IT confusion

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 Shaun Clowes in his role as chief product officer at MuleSoft – a company known for its MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, a leading integration platform for SOA, SaaS and APIs. 

Clowes argues why fusion teams could mitigate LC/NC shadow IT fears and writes as follows…

The emergence of low-code and no-code (LC/NC) platforms is creating a quiet revolution inside many global organisations. Gartner claims that, on average, 41% of non-IT employees are already customising or building data or technology solutions and that the global LC/NC market hit nearly US$14bn last year. 

Using these tools, the rise of ‘business technologists’ (employees who report outside of IT departments and create technology capabilities for internal or external business use) offers new opportunities to drive advantage. They enable organisations to accelerate time-to-value and create innovative user experiences, while trimming costs and bypassing traditional IT bottlenecks. 

Low-code cake… and eat it

LC/NC tools are breaking down silos between teams, systems and processes. But in so doing, are organisations at risk of creating new headaches? How real are concerns that business technologists will run wild, in a dark new twist to the shadow IT story? 

It’s certainly right to be having these conversations. But it’s also true that you can have your LC/NC cake and eat it, if IT oversight is retained to provide necessary management and governance. That means creating fusion teams of business and technology experts – armed with the right tools to ensure the former are free to create value, but under the oversight of the latter.

IT as roadblock

The digital world continues to advance, which means organisations need to become increasingly agile. What does this look like in practice? It means building composable enterprises via API-led integration, to meet rising expectations for connected experiences. By unlocking data from across enterprise silos, organisations can create and deliver such experiences faster. 

However, more is being asked of IT departments than ever before – research suggests that the number of projects put in front of IT increased by 40% on average in the past year and over half (52%) of these projects weren’t delivered on time. As a result, organisations believe they could become more productive, agile and operationally efficient if business users were able to use LC/NC tools to securely connect apps and data.

Shaun Clowes, chief product officer at MuleSoft.

‘Securely’ is the key word here, as IT environments are becoming ever more complex. If more people are being empowered to build using LC/NC, organisations also need to ensure they are maintaining compliance, reliability, privacy and security requirements. In fact, 87% of global enterprises admit that security concerns are holding them back from empowering non-technical users to integrate data sources.

How fusion might work

So here’s the challenge: extract maximum value from LC/NC tools that enable business users to build composable, integrated user experiences with reusable APIs, but do so in a way that mitigates security and governance concerns. To achieve this, organisations need to take a step back and understand where IT can and should still add value. That means allowing business teams to be hands-on in creating new applications and experiences, but also ensuring IT has a “line of sight” to run and manage them. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to governance, which makes it important to establish early on who is responsible throughout the whole lifecycle. What does IT own? What does the business team own?  However, having the tools in place to allow IT to monitor and approve all the LC/NC workflows created by business users can go a long way to mitigating security and compliance fears

In the future, such capabilities will ensure business and IT operates in a more cohesive manner, in fusion teams comprising members from both sides. Most of these will be focused on individual products and product lines, but there will be some that look at the bigger picture of product portfolios and platforms that enable them.

As digital demands grow, embedding IT governance into this new operating model is as close to a LC/NC win-win as you can get.


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