Enterprises simply can’t hire enough technology specialists fast enough. Are low-code and no-code solutions a perfect fix?
We’re stuck in a skills-chasing loop. As vendor ambitions are ever-expanding for tech developments, not to mention the enterprises wanting to harness them, it’s resulting in an ongoing grab for the latest tech-minded talent. It’s competitive, with the push to attract the best applicants at a real high.
Since 2016, with the only exception of 2020, global skills shortages have stood at around 60 percent every year, reaching 70 percent of organizations that experienced a skills shortage in tech in 2022.
Plus, despite shortages being widespread and well-documented, the future of the industry doesn’t seem to stack up any better as it stands, as US management and consulting firm Korn Ferry has predicted that there will be a global shortage of more than 85 million tech workers, representing $8.5tn in lost annual revenue by 2030. Ouch.
In the constant demand for new skills, the available enterprise talent pool is running dry, with businesses struggling to attract enough talent to fulfill their full potential. So, ever the solution thinkers, tech vendors are increasingly crafting ways to respond to the growing challenge and, you guessed it, it starts with more automation.
A growing need for more automation
There are not enough developers to go around. Six months to hire one developer – imagine if you want to hire ten – Adi Kuruganti, Automation Anywhere
Being dependent on many highly skilled and specialized developers, without attracting and retaining a much-needed workforce, the tech industry could struggle to develop to its full potential in the long run as companies are also facing increased competition for talent.
Having had many conversations with customers, Adi Kuruganti, chief product officer of Automation Anywhere (AA), shares: “There are not enough developers to go around. One of our customers yesterday was saying how it took them six months to hire one developer. If it can take six months to hire one developer, imagine if you want to hire ten.”
In the meantime, multiple industries, including retail, customer service, finance, banking, healthcare and manufacturing are tapping into the potential of automation for various processes to increase productivity. Recent research from McKinsey has also shown that companies can automate as much as 60-70 percent of their processes to optimize their operations. In this case, however, developers are likely to be inundated with automation requests and unable to cope with the workload in time.
How we can keep moving forward without the luxury of hiring an infinite amount of people with an infinite amount of skills – Claudia Michon, Automation Anywhere
Echoing the observations that most companies are working with massive resource constraints and some budget constraints on hiring more people, Claudia Michon, SVP of product and solutions marketing at AA, says that such companies are “looking at technology, automation and the combination of GenAI as a way to maintain or increase productivity”.
“So that’s really where we are right now in the world. It’s about how we can keep moving forward without the luxury of hiring an infinite amount of people with an infinite amount of skills,” she adds.
For this reason, AA has embarked on a mission of building low-code, no-code tools, with the addition of GenAI to allow companies to rapidly auto-generate automations using natural language – a leapfrog from where we’ve been with the standard code system development tools and technologies of the past.
As part of these efforts, AA has recently unveiled the expansion of its Automation Co-Pilot for Automators, aiming to empower citizen and professional developers to create powerful, customized automations using natural language prompts to lower the barrier to automation creation across enterprises.
Along with this, the vendor has also launched Autopilot, which can enable users to streamline automation development from process understanding to automation deployment – quite often a months-long process across multiple teams. With the element of human validation along the way, tools like Autopilot can generate end-to-end automation based on enterprise process mapping, using the power of GenAI.
A lot of the things can be automated, AI will take a lot more of it. This has to happen. There’s just no way to continue to keep things manual – Raj Iyer, ServiceNow
With the potential of automation to help increase productivity, public sector organizations can also benefit from this. Raj Iyer, global head of public sector at ServiceNow, shares his observations from working with government contacts in this space. What’s clear, is that AI is granting opportunities, helping businesses automate a lot of their existing eligibility rules and policies.
“Clearly, over the next decade, I think what we’re going to see is a lot of the things that can be automated, AI will take a lot more of it. And then, especially given the workforce challenges, this has to happen. There’s just no way to continue to keep things manual.”
Capitalizing on low-code/ no-code applications
The low-code approach is not a magical world. You always need to be aware of your processes and your needs – Pierre Couderc, Axelor
The no-code / low-code approach, since first emerging in the early 2000s, is gaining popularity by bringing mounting advantages to the industry. By enabling application development with little or no coding, it is allowing people to perform common programming tasks with drag and drop, while enabling improved development efficiency.
Pierre Couderc, low-code and BPM expert at Axelor, explains that a major advantage of such implementations is that you don’t have to develop specific functionalities or processes. You can directly set some parameters while it’s all embedded in the ERP.
“If you want to go further and fully customize the accounting part of the CRM part, whatever it needs…It has all these tools in the studio to create the custom form of the BPM to create a process. You can do that by yourself. You don’t need to hire developers, you just need to be focused on the functional part and how it is reflected in the application,” says Couderc, while explaining that this is all made possible by completing a short training program on these tools.
Moreover, no-code and low-code applications can help overall team productivity by preventing mistakes when duplicating content instead of using the old-fashioned way of copy and paste some developers rely on – which oftentimes leads to loss of code and errors that can be difficult to manage before deploying an application.
However, while no-code and low-code applications have the potential to improve processes in organizations, Couderc explains that sometimes, there are unrealistic customer expectations, with one of the main requirements for companies to adopt it successfully being the deep knowledge of their own processes – oftentimes the worrying gap in businesses’ knowledge.
“Sometimes it happens that there is a bottleneck in their processes. But the low-code approach is not a magical world. You always need to be aware of your processes and your needs…It can be one of the major issues with customers.”
Shedding light on the idea that sometimes there is a silo between the business and technology teams in organizations, AA’s Michon points out that this often leads to processes functioning slowly, exacerbated by talent shortages and the fact that the process could be too complicated, especially where new regulations come in or costs need to be taken out of the system.
Working to prevent this silo of information and knowledge from sitting in just one group, she shares that the opportunity to get key information over to the other side and build upon it, as well as stitching together and creating fusion teams, are probably the most highly anticipated abilities their customers are seeking.
But with the growing fears of technology taking over jobs and removing the need to recruit human employees, the question of whether low-code and no-code can take away developers’ jobs altogether, is a pertinent one.
Responding to this, Couderc says: “It’s a real question. But is it still a question since ChatGPT, where an AI solution can literally create an application from scratch and make it work without any knowledge in developing, so I think that may be an evolution.”
Couderc reiterates that low-code is not a new way of developing applications but one that still implies a strong experience in coding. If you want to develop a low-code application, he believes that this will only become a way for developers to simplify work and become more efficient in everyday tasks.
“And the next generation of developers will be competent in using AI in the everyday world to create content, but it’s always the same thing. You can have the most powerful tool like ChatGPT to create a code and you’ll always need to have a human check in the end if you want to ensure that there are no functional errors,” Couderc says.
Nurturing future talent with automation
As part of its social impact work, AA has partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to help drive digital inclusion in underserved communities while helping develop the skills of young people interested in technology that they need to succeed in the field.
Supporting the idea that a more equitable, wealth-balanced society requires better skilling, so people with little opportunity can access well-paying work, AA is offering free training paths to such young people from the US, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.
The non-profits we collaborate with are harnessing these technologies to uplift society as a whole – Neeti Mehta Shukla, Automation Anywhere
For instance, the company is partnering with leriba.ai, an intelligent automation solutions, services and skills development company, with the goal of training a million African women in robotic process automation skills. This complements the vision of WEF’s “Reskilling Revolution”, which upped its goal, from reskilling one billion people, to more than half (1.6 billion) of the world’s workers, having already provided more than 350 million people with better skills, jobs and education.
“When non-profits embrace automation, we witness the profound impact it can have on human lives, often resulting in faster response times or lower operational costs, or both. As the world races towards intelligent automation and GenAI, the non-profits we collaborate with are harnessing these technologies to uplift society as a whole,” Neeti Mehta Shukla, social impact officer at AA, says.
But by helping nurture these skills and empower disadvantaged communities to grow their interest in tech, these initiatives also have the potential to strengthen the tech and automation industries in the long run. They can attract young talent, provide learning and bring the industry closer to the lives of young people from diverse backgrounds.
Without getting too stuck on the fears that AI and low-code could disrupt the industry beyond recognition and deprive people of jobs, it seems that as automation is becoming a more desirable component of modern organizations, the “work smarter, not harder” approach that low-code and no-code can offer would only appeal to a wider audience. Having said that, with the creativity and problem-solving skills of humans, joining young talent with shortcut tech approaches might be our best bet for the future of the industry.