Statistics show what we already know: Content is critical to engaging customers and driving positive business outcomes.
According to research, 41% of consumers engage at least once a week with a brand or retailer’s mobile app, and 42% engage with a retailer’s website at least that often. Personalized content goes a long way, with 28% of respondents saying that it makes them more likely to buy again. And 42% have recommended a retailer because of the quality of the content they share. For 16-to-24-year-olds, this number rises to almost six in 10, suggesting that content will be even more important in the years to come.
The problem? Most organizations struggle to develop content-based applications and bring them to market quickly enough to adapt to changing market forces and customer demands. For content to drive results, it needs to be tailored and timely, meeting customers exactly where they are in their buyer journey. And if it takes a year or more to develop a content-based application, a company may very well miss its moment.
Enter low code
Low-code development allows developers to reuse existing components and templates, drawing on vast libraries of proven software assets. Low-code development also, definitionally, utilizes visual design paradigms, enabling developers to configure applications with “point-and-click” design tools rather than writing copious amounts of code. Rather than being a replacement for development teams, low code paradigms allow developers to become dramatically more efficient, making better use of their time and skills.
Up until now, much of the emphasis of low-code development has been on data-centric and process-centric use cases. Content applications have been largely overlooked, in part because of the unique requirements that are intrinsic to these types of applications. However, advances have created true, low-code development environments for content applications, incorporating all of the critical components for working with unstructured information and enabling users to address the third pillar of low-code development: content-centric use cases.
The ability to quickly bring content applications to market in response to a changing business landscape is nothing short of revolutionary. While it often takes businesses 12 months or more to create a new content-based application using traditional development processes and tooling, the timeline can shrink to just a few weeks with a low-code approach. That means a company can race from idea to execution while the market trends that sparked the idea are still ripe. And, since so few businesses have the ability to innovate so quickly, low-code development can give organizations a significant competitive advantage over their peers.
Tech giants like Amazon and Google have been using agile development processes for years, bringing out early versions of new products or user experiences as quickly as possible. By actually putting tools into users’ hands early on, these companies can test out the potential of new products in a way that both promotes speed and reduces risk. Low-code approaches enable companies with agile development processes to rapidly combine proven functions and features to create compelling new offerings, and then to quickly test in a live environment, allowing them to continually refine their offerings with each release.
Technology has now matured to the point where smaller companies across industries can follow in the footsteps of these tech giants. In fact, not only have these companies invested in a number of advanced development capabilities, but they’ve also created a number of plug-and-play services that developers can use in their own organizations’ applications.
Low code in action
Businesses can leverage low-code development to respond to a wide variety of customer needs through content-based applications. For instance, a financial services firm might build out solutions for approving loans or processing insurance claims. Fashion brands and retailers can quickly develop and deploy new visual assets – such as photos, videos, and 3D models – to refresh promotional campaigns in response to market changes. Consumer product companies might build tools that allow them to bypass the usual stages of materials sampling and physical prototyping, and instead utilize virtual materials and 3D product design tools.
Each of the above example applications relies on content, which most companies have in abundance. The real challenge is that, for the past 20 years, organizations have really struggled to leverage this content — essential information for their businesses — to deliver transformative outcomes or competitive differentiation. The foundational reason for this is that it has just been too difficult to build critical business applications that incorporate content in a meaningful way. This is no longer true.
Businesses largely have the building blocks needed for advanced content-based services. Innovation starts with unlocking that information and making it more widely sharable. This challenge can be addressed through low-code content services platforms. As organizations begin to embrace new, low-code platforms for content, they can get to work building smart, content-based applications that accelerate product development, improve internal decision-making, and enhance the customer experience.