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Low Code Drives Agility, Agility Drives Success

10X delivery speed, half the cost, improved functionality.

I had the opportunity to watch Matt Calkins’, CEO and Founder of Appian, keynote at Appian World. He made some powerful observations about the evolution of business over the past 15 months.

Businesses have just faced their biggest disruption in decades. They are still adapting to it and still overcoming it. 2020 required organizations to change faster than they'd previously thought possible.

A recent survey from McKinsey quantifies just how much faster businesses had to transform. Urgent changes that would have taken years under normal circumstances had to be done in days. In less than a month data security was augmented at 19X the usual rate. Cloud migrations took place at 24X the usual rate. Customer expectations like remote commerce were met 24X faster than normal. New technology for operations and decision-making was adopted in just 4 percent of the time businesses were accustomed to.

Lead With Technology

We are in a period of constant change. Forward-thinking companies can thrive in this environment because low code technology facilitates rapid adoption. Agility, the ability to adapt to change, is now the most important skill an organization can possess.

Organizations that survived last year the best are the ones willing to lead with new technologies to power their way through macro change. Of those that told McKinsey they'd navigated the crisis “very effectively,” 72% were also out ahead on new technologies, while 33% were not.

Remote work was the most obvious change. Last year, corporate mobile usage worldwide was 220 percent of what it was a year ago. It's obvious employees worked remotely and wanted to log into systems with their iPads or mobile phones. But it wasn't obvious in 2019 and not many apps were ready to be used on every mobile device. Last year remote workers wanted to log in, they wanted to collaborate. And, in many cases, technology held them back. Most apps weren't ready. if they had been there would have been a lot more than a 2.2X increase in mobile usage.

While corporate mobile usage doubled, Appian mobile usage increased by 19.7X. The difference is that all Appian applications were ready for change and most corporate applications weren't. Appian apps got 20x the mobile traffic. Most other apps would have done the same but they couldn't due to the inability of applications to pivot to mobile. This cost the world a staggering amount of productivity last year.

The Adaptive Enterprise

Low code makes business adaptable. It makes applications ready for new possibilities. Every application can be ready for mobile use on every major device without modification, without an update, or upgrade. Even if the app was written before modern devices or standards even existed, that's the power of low code. That's an example of the adaptability and tech-led flexibility that separated the winners from the losers in 2020. Mobile usage successfully tested low code last year.

As a result, there's a lot more talk about low code. Search volume has doubled. Tech vendors are talking about low code at 10X the rate that they did one year before. Forrester is showing 75 percent of companies are going to be using low code this year up from just 44 percent a year ago.

Continuous Change

We've just been through a wave of change and there's another one coming very soon. The first wave was the start of the pandemic. The next wave will be the end of the pandemic. We will see a new equilibrium. It’s unlike any we’ve seen before. It's hard to predict. It won't be just like the past. And, it won't be like the present either. It's going to be something new. There will be new business models, new employment patterns, new customer concerns, and preferences. We're still dealing with the last wave. But the next wave is within sight already. The waves are not going to stop. The disruptions will continue and they won't have to wait for a new health crisis next time because the basic metabolism of a business has changed.

Customers have always been changing and they always wanted businesses to change with them. Now they're going to expect it. Technology is moving faster than ever and that's also going to force more changes. The organizations that lead in agility have seen what a competitive advantage it was last year and now they'll double down on it.


Speed is the new battleground. Last year disrupted a long period of stability in business. We moved from continuity to change but more importantly, we moved from a world that expects continuity to one that will now expect change. Companies must cope with that new level of change, start thinking about what change means and what adoptions they will have to make.

Technical Debt

Technical debt was a problem for enterprises in the past but it's going to be a problem on a different scale in an era of change because change creates more technical debt. Technical debt is the cost you pay for out-of-date applications. All of the upgrades, integrating, tweaking, securitizing, and the inefficiency that results from it never being quite right. When times change faster, apps go out of date faster too.

Appian mobile use multiplied 19.7X in one year. Usage patterns changed. People suddenly went remote working from mobile devices at a rate we've never seen. A change in patterns like that creates technical debt which in turn requires a lot of work to undo.

In a moment of turbulence, there is no time to remediate technical debt. Low code is the antidote to technical debt. Low-code apps were ready without changes, without updates. Apps were ready to run even on devices that didn't exist when the app was written.


Mobility is now a requirement for every application. Users are everywhere. Usage will be everywhere. Apps need to be mobile This is a huge reason why low code is here to stay. When you design an app in low code it automatically works on every mobile device.

Every developer will want to write once to play everywhere and low code is the best way to do it. You're always making modes for different devices and there's lots of new coding.


Last year marked the end of an era for enterprise software. What was a pandemic for humans was an extinction event for “Slow software.” Slow software is software that takes a long time to create and once created it's inflexible that model simply doesn't work anymore under the old approach software used to be optimized for minimal investment. Future inflexibility was just one of the prices you paid if there was a need to fix it.

Today's priorities are shifting. Software is an investment in flexibility. It's expected to pay off not just now but also in the future when you need to change your processes. You'll judge your infrastructure by whether it can pivot and adapt in times of change. In 2017, 48 percent of businesses said a top priority from software was cost savings. In 2020, just 10 percent prioritize cost savings while 87 percent aim for investing, modernizing, and refocusing. Technology is a strategic asset and agility is a competitive advantage.

The Low Code Promise

Matt concluded by presenting his “the low code promise.” These are the three things you get with any application built with low code: 1) 10X delivery speed; 2) costs cut in half; and, 3) improved application functionality.


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