We see low-code application development playing a bigger role in the organization’s IT strategy: Bharath Kumar B, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience, Zoho Creator
The need to optimize the IT ecosystem, do more with less without compromising speed to market, and an increase in demand for contextual business solutions are key drivers for the growth of low-code platforms, declared Bharath Kumar B, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience, Zoho Creator
Some edited excerpts:
What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in software development (especially in the last two years)?
Thanks to the pandemic, the approach to enterprise software development has undergone a massive change over the past couple of years. The organization’s focus on providing a multi-device experience, heightened privacy and security concerns, and adoption of a cloud-first approach have been key trends in these last years. Additionally, we observed two other key trends that we believe will define the future of app development:
a) Democratization of application development: Before the pandemic, IT teams were constantly trying to balance the implementation of mission-critical, organization-wide technology initiatives with frequent software requests from business teams. The pandemic has made the situation even more dire by upending digital priorities. Additionally, market uncertainties, shortage of skilled resources, and budget constraints have forced IT teams to explore alternative ways to restore this balance. One of the key initiatives within this framework is organization-wide citizen development programs that democratize application development with low-code platforms. This would basically mean that an individual from any department in the organization can create solutions simply by using their business logic.
b) Rise of fusion teams: The urgency to build contextual business solutions faster has led to an increase in the deployment of cross-functional fusion teams in software development. They define business problems together and take a solution-focused approach to co-create software that puts business goals at the center of their efforts, fostering better collaboration between business and IT. .
How is Zoho positioned in the software development space?
Our vision in the software development space with the Zoho Creator Platform is to “enable everyone to easily create powerful applications”. We do this by providing no-code, low-code, and pro-code functionality across the full spectrum of application development supported by an enterprise-grade backend infrastructure.
Citizen developers take advantage of no-code visual builders to develop apps based on the business process they are trying to transform with the app. From designing the process map, data assimilation, deploying AI features, setting up workflow automation, integrating with third-party apps to setting up dashboards. insightful edge that guide decision-making, everything can be configured without a line of code. More experienced citizen developers can leverage our guided scripting language, Deluge, to add complexities to their apps. Deluge is easily understood with a friendly syntax that allows developers to write code for business logic once by understanding the context of data models.
What are some of the biggest opportunities for Zoho in the area of low-code software development? What is your biggest differentiator?
We see some big gaps in the existing low-code market as an opportunity.
Low-code multi-persona development: The current low-code landscape has two types of offers. First, easy-to-use platforms for business users, but with limited scope for building complex applications. Two, platforms that aim to increase the productivity of IT developers with features that help create complex solutions. The problem with these platforms is that they require a steep learning curve with extensive training and are not citizen developer friendly. Many organizations are opting for a multi-vendor ecosystem to bridge this gap, but this leads to governance issues around user management, subscription management, auditing, compliance, privacy, and security. Finding a balance between the two is the most difficult path for a low-code editor to take, but an advantage for us since we have been working on it since the very beginning.
Market Consolidation: To benefit from a low-code platform, companies must commit to it for the long term. Over the past couple of years, the low-code app development market has seen a massive boom at the lower end of the no-code/low-code spectrum. Most of them are looking for quick niche funding and have limited vision or ability to scale – they become unreliable over time. The biggest market disruption we foresee in the next 12-24 months is the widening gap between vendors seeking acquisition and established vendors, ultimately leading to a flurry of acquisitions/closures. Either way, the client will be affected by the change and will revert to larger established players to start from scratch. We see this as a huge opportunity for us, given the maturity of the platform and our proven track record of long-term success.
Early in our journey, one of the most important strategic decisions we made as a company was to invest in the Zoho technology stack, our complete core infrastructure (including data centers, networking, hardware, software, etc.) where all of our products are built and hosted. This decision was driven by the need to control all aspects of the product experience we provide to our customers. Over the years, this company-wide strategy has become our primary differentiator.
For example, at Zoho, integration and analytics capabilities have been developed as standalone products for over a decade. Since all of our products share the same frameworks, interoperability between services is seamless, allowing us to pull both of these services to the Creator platform. This has allowed us to become the only low-code platform on the market to seamlessly unify capabilities for building apps, integrations, and business insights from a single dashboard. For the customer, this means a single license to access three essential features that help them go beyond building custom applications to building end-to-end custom business solutions.
No other low-code vendor does what we do organically.
What is the strategy for positioning the creator of Zoho against some of the more established competitors? Can you give us some indication of what kind of growth you think will be possible for this solution in India and also globally?
Meeting the needs of business and IT developers, the breadth and depth of functionality leveraging Zoho’s full stack, and the stability we offer as a vendor based on a long-term proven track record are just a few- one of the main advantages for our customers.
We see low-code application development playing a bigger role in organization’s IT strategy with each passing year and we don’t see the trend changing any time soon in the world. The need to optimize the IT ecosystem, to do more with less without compromising speed to market, and an increase in demand for contextual business solutions are key drivers.
From a geographic growth perspective for Zoho Creator, North America and Europe are our mature markets that are growing steadily. APAC and MEA are our growth regions. Moreover, within APAC, India is the fastest growing country with a growth rate of over 100% in the last 12 months, which is a testament to the demand for the platform.