by Jason Conners, Sharp Hue Spring 2020 MBA Intern
Occasionally, a new technology comes along that empowers everyday people, improving lives on a broad scale. The personal computer, internet, and smartphone have all done this, and they’ve become so widely adopted that it is almost impossible to imagine life without them.
I think that a new category of technology is on its way to earning a spot on that list in the form of no-code and low-code development platforms. These platforms, such as Microsoft Power Platform, Google Data Studio, Webflow, and AppSheet, give everyday users the ability to build apps and websites without the help of highly technical developers.
No- and low-code solutions are democratizing the creation process. These solutions open the door for small businesses to achieve the kind of efficiency and customization that has only been accessible to organizations with larger technology budgets.
Here are the Top 5 Ways that no- and low-code platforms can enhance your business
- Automate tiresome tasks
- Create custom tools
- Gain deeper insights
- Go mobile
- Become more agile
1. Automate tiresome tasks
One of the most significant ways these low-code environments can help you is by providing a way to automate time-consuming and redundant processes. Low-code Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capabilities available in Microsoft’s Power Platform can give you the ability to automate all kinds of tasks in the background or in your browser and desktop programs.
Transfer spreadsheet data into an accounting software: Do you track time in a spreadsheet each day and spend significant time manually uploading it into QuickBooks at the end of each week? Instead, create a Power Automate flow that automatically transfers that data from an Excel file into QuickBooks.
Filter after-hours notifications: Do you want to be available to your biggest client after hours, but don’t want work emails interrupting family time unless necessary? You don’t have to compromise; you can just create a flow that sends you a push notification after 5 pm if, and only if, you receive an email from an address that includes ‘@mybiggestclient.org’.
2. Create custom tools when off-the-shelf doesn’t cut it
Your business has unique processes that set you apart. Unfortunately, the prepackaged software that’s available to you doesn’t allow you the kind of customization that you need. Still, you don’t have the budget for custom software development, so you make do.
Maybe it’s time that you looked at low-code solutions such as Power Apps and Google’s App Sheet. These tools give you the chance to build completely custom apps, making use of familiar skills and technologies.
As an Excel guru, I felt right at home in the Power Apps interface. Power Apps uses simple drag-and-drop components and a familiar formula bar that I use countlessly within Excel.
In my capacity as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Arkansas, I was able to create a simple scheduling app for the MBA department using AppSheet. It was powered entirely by Google Sheets – another technology I was already familiar with – and it allowed us to create a custom solution without engaging an outside developer or IT department.
3. Gain deeper insights
Using dashboard tools such as Google Data Studio and Microsoft Power BI, you can visualize and manipulate data in ways that previously required specific expertise. With tools like these, it’s not only possible but easy to create intuitive, interactive dashboards that allow you to monitor your business’s performance. And with connections to all of your existing data stores, such as Google Sheets and SQL Servers, connecting to real-time data is easier than ever.
4. Go mobile
No-code and low-code platforms can help you build mobile-friendly apps that allow you to take your productivity on-the-go. Power Apps are easily deployed on iOS and Android devices and give your team capabilities like scanning barcodes and using augmented reality (AR) in the field. With trusted providers like Microsoft and Google, these services securely integrate with the tools you already use.
5. Become more agile
Understanding and having these kinds of technologies at your disposal will allow you to respond to changes faster than ever before. In today’s business environment, agility has never been more critical.
Here at Sharp Hue, as we began remote work during COVID-19, the lines between home and work became blurred. We quickly built a low-code app to help us keep track of team member availability. The new status board tool allows us to be respectful of each other’s availability during the workday (at home). The app also sends notifications to Microsoft Teams, so it’s quick and easy to inform the team when we step out for lunch or take a break.
After using the app for a couple of weeks, I found myself forgetting to update my status to “out of office” at the end of a busy workday. As usability and other challenges popped up, we found easy-to-implement solutions. I ended up creating a flow in Power Automate to send me a push notification at the end of each day as a reminder to “clock out.”
How can you get started with low-code and no-code development?
If you want to know more about how you can use no- or low-code technologies in your business, nothing is standing in your way! Many of the services offer free trials or free development and only require you to start paying once you deploy your first app. If your business is on Office365, there’s even a chance you already have access to Microsoft’s Power Platform.
At Sharp Hue, our mission is to help you “Get work done. Go home happy!” If you still want to know more, or you need help getting started, feel free to contact us.