Digital technologies like AI, Blockchain, and IoT offer enormous opportunities for companies and industries by increasing efficiency in production, customer response, P&L, and agility. They also provide enhanced innovation and agility.
These new technologies improve cycle time using enhanced machine monitoring and automated or semiautomated decision-making. They can meet ever-changing customer demands, use resources more efficiently, and create new business models.
Challenges with Digital Transformation in Industry
However, digitizing industrial processes also can create cybersecurity risks and requires capital and operational investments. We need to use them in a way that keeps things simple (hackers live in a world of obscurity), and business stakeholders want to see quick wins earlier.
We now expect employees to know how to use technology, and we also assume they will keep up with the technology changes. In many industries, especially the "old school" industries that have been the backbone of our economy, there are not enough "new technology" skilled employees. Many of the up-and-coming talent with these technology skills do not work in the manufacturing, transportation, or energy industries, leaving those industries with a large void to fill.
How Can the Manufacturing, Transportation, and Energy Industries Keep Up with Technology
How can the manufacturing, transportation, and energy industries take advantage of groundbreaking new technologies if they can't find engineers to write and maintain the code? Or the domain experts that are savvy enough with IoT, big data, and distributed ledger technologies? There is no easy way to connect the coders with the domain experts since they are usually not on the same page on terminology, tools, and language.
Dr. Lars Geyer-Blaumeiser, Corporate Department Internet of Things and Digitalization, Bosch, states that "Digitalization requires software solutions in well-standardized and well-understood areas. In my opinion, low-code technologies can help to develop these solutions efficiently, thereby freeing scarce development capacity for more competitive challenges."
As the global war for talent continues, and with the growing need to make existing engineers more productive, part of the answer may lie with low-code and no-code platforms.
What Are Low-Code and No-Code Platforms?
Low-code/no-code platforms allow users to create application software using a graphic interface instead of traditional hand-coded computer programming. They can simplify prototyping and deployment and put stakeholders on the same page so that business processes, engineering systems, and computer code work together.
Low-code and no-code tools have been around since the early 2000s, but the term “low-code/no-code” became common around 2014. Initially, companies used low-code and no-code platforms for business applications and workflows, with valuable tools such as Zapier and Automate.io and enterprise platforms such as Appian and Service Now.
We now see low-code/no-code being used for industrial applications. These platforms help manufacturing professionals develop applications for various device types, allowing manufacturers to use their expertise more efficiently. Low-code and no-code applications enable manufacturing, transportation, and energy (as well as other "old school" industries) to use technology and IT workflows to improve manufacturing automation and assist field operations.
Large Companies Using Low-Code and No-Code
We have already seen some non-technology companies embrace low-code and no-code solutions.
IBM partnered with Mendix, a low-code platform, to integrate it into its cloud in 2018. It also launched Rapid Supplier Connect, a blockchain platform to connect purchasers and suppliers of equipment needed during the pandemic.
Siemens partnered with Mendix to create more than 100 applications in less than a year by empowering over 10,000 employees as Mendix users and more than 1,000 as Rapid and Advanced Developers. Siemens uses Mendix for meter data management, building energy management, predictive maintenance, renewable energy distribution, grid balance management, and field service planning.
Google launched its App Maker and Microsoft its PowerApps low-code platforms for enterprise customers.
Oracle launched APEX Application Development (APEX Service) as a fully managed, low-code application development platform for building and deploying modern, data-driven applications in Oracle Cloud.
Shell is among companies that adopted a low-code approach to enable the company to deliver apps to market faster and reduce competition with competitors.
Startups Creating Low-Code and No-Code Solutions
Several early-stage startups are offering low-code/no-code development platforms. Some of the ones that we are watching include:
Astrakode* (founded in 2021)
Location: Pescara, Italy
Solution: Facilitate innovative enterprise solutions development through low-code
Stroma* (founded in 2018)
Location: Chicago, United States
Solution: Computer vision for work safety
Netlume* (founded in 2020)
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Solution: Low-code platform for industrial IoT, analytics, and AI
Cameralyze* (founded in 2019)
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Solution: Provider of no-code computer vision platform for visual AI applications
Zero Shot Bot (founded in 2020)
Location: Sydney, Australia
Solution: Provider of a solution to build conversational AI solutions
Wiboot (founded in 2020)
Location: Paris, France
Solution: Provider of a platform to create IoT and AI applications without coding
EDGENeural (founded in 2019)
Location: Pune, India
Solution: Provider of an edge AI platform
* Sente portfolio companies