Data management has come a long way over the years. Gone are the days when scores of people who mastered functions and formulas in Excel are needed to compute multi-step calculations to extract mathematical calculations from raw data that is collected over the course of business transactions. In fact with the aid of no code and low code solutions such as Workato, TrackVia, and Triggre many times the data can not only be gathered without the use of excel, it can be gathered faster and with less labor.
Many manufacturers have been automating manufacturing processes in their assembly lines for decades now. Automation is not new. What is new is the way the backend, books are now being infused with automation, to help with the data, via low-code and no-code solutions. Many low-code/no-code solutions free up developers’ time for more meaningful tasks in two crucial ways. First, these tools lower the technical barrier to entry so that nontechnical users (or citizen developers) can also perform tasks that only professional developers could do previously.
Second, professional developers can adopt low-code/no-code solutions to take advantage of their automation capabilities. These solutions can enable rapid development of applications, automate data integration, and support data visualizations to reduce the time needed to generate real business value. This of course helps not only with speed-to-market solutions but reduces the cost needed to get the new solution in place.
All in all, we can say that low-code/no-code is not only helpful but necessary, because helps provide more efficient ways to resolve missing pieces of the puzzle. The other major consideration to keep in mind is the data it needed to operate on. When it comes to this, there are certain things we must account for.
Challenges of Data Integration
Seamless business-IT collaboration is the core philosophy that runs through any company in the 21st century. The results of such collaboration are that organizations can arrive at business decisions faster and therefore act more quickly. But if you want to make the right business decisions, you need more than collaboration. You need the right dataset with you.
And we all know firsthand how hard it is to get the right data. When we say “right”, it implies the right size, the right sources, the right granularity, and the right context for the business problem. Every digital service, new business model, and the solution you design to make your employees’ and customers’ lives easier… all need data. That data comes from a range of sources, and every new application you build produces new data.
As a matter of fact, 30-40% of the average time spent building an application is dedicated to ensuring the readiness of data and its integration. But this bottleneck alone goes way beyond this simple task. Data integration issues are often centered around data sourcing, its structure, and management. Thus, they are majorly shaped around:
- Finding data- To find the data you need, we first need to get the right equivalent of unstructured and structured data from the respective data stores. And in some cases, even if we find it, accessing the same could become challenging.
- Understanding data- Once we get our hands on the data needed, we need to understand what it means. This exercise alone involves everything from deciphering confusing attribute names to doing complex data calculations.
- Using data- Now if we’ve extracted the right data and can understand it, we need to use it in our solutions. This means calling APIs, building integration logic needed in the use case, and mapping data to it. Next, we have to bind that data to UI elements and adapt it to the limitations of the underlying data sources.
The Era of Low-Code/No-Code Development And Data Integration
The demand for developers to support multiple projects at once is increasing as new languages, procedures, and applications are being adopted in the industry. With no-code/low-code platforms, we can enable non-experts to develop at scale and free experts from routine work simultaneously.
Low-code/no-code platforms support many different use cases, like web experience, e-commerce, data analysis, customer service, automation, or enterprise software development.
However, the most interesting scenario comes during the data integration stage.
Since every application relies on data, a robust yet flexible integration determines whether a project will become a success or a failure. Due to immense scaling requirements, different types of endpoints, a large variety of data formats, and significant technical innovations, data integration has become increasingly complex. That’s why we often require highly specialized developers to perform those tasks.
In larger companies, there are even entire departments responsible for managing APIs, microservices, server protocols, and data integrations. And exactly this is a use case where low code can help immensely.
Specifically for low-code/no-code integration, we benefit from the following:
- It lowers the barrier to entry for people who want to connect data endpoints
- We can focus more on the outcome and get from idea to product faster
- Through harmonization and standardization of APIs, we are able to reduce maintenance efforts
- We keep our IT architecture clean, to ourselves, and within standards
- The workload of a business & IT-Departments decreases because the need to define and hand over data integration requirements is eliminated
- The efficiency offered by these tools directly influences business metrics
- We gain more transparency and control. Since professional developers can still add and customize code when needed, the process becomes streamlined and more efficient
Is Data Integration a Flexible Solution?
While there are some citizen developers that use XML or EDI to exchange data. There are others too that use more generic formats like spreadsheets or text files. In either use case, using standardized data integration practices promotes flexibility. This also allows you to choose from an array of many formats to satisfy any data transformation and integration requirements.
Low-code/No-code solutions help businesses to stay ahead of the pace of change. In addition to accelerating product delivery, these solutions can significantly improve hard business metrics as well.
Further, we can also save costs by reusing APIs to open new revenue streams. In short, low-code/no-code platforms can help businesses build applications in a faster, more reliable, and more efficient manner. Also, one should note that these low-code/no-code platforms are here to stay, but should not be mistaken as a replacement for human innovation. These platforms and tools are becoming essential to fields like modern analytics, reporting, etc. But in some cases, we will continue to rely on professional developers to generate insights in a way that leads to real business value.