Developers deliver major types of business applications many times faster with low-code platforms than they can by coding alone. How will low-code vendors keep raising software-delivery speed?

I see two big sources of innovation: 1) applying AI to low-code development and operations and 2) embracing a new approach I’m calling “prescriptive low-code.” Four vendors embrace prescriptive low-code: Novulo, Oriana, Ultimus, and Vizru. Several others partially embrace the concept.

The four vendors add two dimensions to the declarative development and automated deployment of low-code platforms (see figure below):

  1. Application components. Components are self-contained modules that customers combine to create applications. Examples include content management, general ledger, dashboard, invoices, and time sheets. The boost in application-delivery speed comes from reuse of packaged functionality, rather than building all functionality from scratch. Low-code development speeds building from scratch; application components make delivery even faster.
  2. Built-in architecture. An architecture underlies all applications, fostering application integrity, performance, and updates and change. Application components are more than templates. They are architected to work together.

The result is a productive middle ground between subscribing to a software-as-a-service (the fastest way to “deliver” business applications) and custom application development using low-code platforms. “Prescriptive” is a good way to describe this approach because the platform prescribes both application architecture and module structure.

For 2020, I’m planning a research project into the prescriptive approach to low-code platforms. Please leave your comments and suggestions on this concept, its promise, and pitfalls below. I very much appreciate your help!

NB: We’ve documented how vendors are incorporating AI in our 2019 Forrester Wave™ assessments of low-code and digital process automation platforms. See that research for more on this topic.