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No-Code & Techies - Happy Marriage?

In this edition, we talk about when as a coder you need to use a good old sedan rather than a batman car :) No code is about striking that balance , read on!

To understand the no-code movement, lets first define a tipping point. A tipping point, as the Merrriam Webster would have it, is a critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.

In the context of tech, what might such a significant and unstoppable effect be?  The creation of tech products and businesses by non-techies! Think of it this way: only ~0.3% of the world’s population today can code, and this small group has built all of the world’s ~6.3 million mobile apps. Which means that 99.7% of the world fully depends on 0.3%, which is huge and worth taking a moment to absorb...

With software eating the world, the ~0.3% (read: coders) have the advantage of an evergreen superpower. Think of it this way - the digital economy has a front-end of platforms/products/companies, all of which are mortal to competition and economic forces. What however in some ways is free from this mortality risk is the profession of coding - the creation of software infrastructure in every sector needs coders, and regardless of what shape or form these products/platforms take, coders will be at the very heart of it. And the best coders perhaps at the pinnacle of it all!

But what about the ~99.7%? Can non-techies be creators of tech products and businesses without knowing how to code?

Astonishingly, in just a matter of 2 decades, the answer has moved from NO to a resounding YES! Thanks to coders building new creator-enabling tech platforms (e.g., shopify, airtable, roblox), more and more non-tech natives are starting tech enabled businesses (e.g., online shop-front) and products (e.g., meditation app). In fact, estimates suggest that in the next 5 years, a total of ~500 million apps are likely to be built of which (wait for it…!) 450 million are likely to be built using no/low-code platforms.

That the haloed Big Tech companies have joined the bandwagon of no-code platforms is evidence of the beginning of a tipping point. Details aside, here’s a snapshot of Big Tech action in no/low-code: Amazon launched Honeycode, Microsoft launched Power Apps on Azure and Google bought AppSheet, to name a few.

So will no-code eat software just like software is eating the world ? In simple terms, what does all this mean for coders…?

For the first time in history, there will be a close to level playing field between creators from both tech and non-tech backgrounds. As a coder you need to adapt to this new reality and switch away from the approach of code-by-default and instead code-when-necessary.

Perhaps it’s best to explain with an analogy of the batman car vs a sedan. As coders, you have the equivalent of a batman car (read: rockstar coding skills) to put to use. But sometimes, you need to be wise and use a regular sedan (read: low code MVP) to get through road traffic (read: competitive 0-1 startup journeys) faster. After that, maybe use the batman car (read: 1-10 startup journeys) for scalable impact :)

Lets make this concrete with an example of when should you as a coder use a batman car vs sedan approach:

  • 0-1 example of when to go code-light (read: sedan): building a gratitude and meditation app to test topic preferences of users
  • 0-1 example of when to go code-heavy (read: batman car) : building a deep tech AI engine that helps insurers validate the authenticity of car crash images to estimate payouts ; building a no-code platform

A final tip for coders: if you want to be a tech-entrepreneur, coding is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for success but it is an amazing nitro boost. With a tipping point approaching in the landscape of tech-creations, strengthen your coding skills and start building horizontal skill sets across at least 1 or 2 functions (think: business, finance, operations, marketing, sales and most important people leadership).

Think of it this way - the entrepreneurs of the future will be tech-enabled, but the greatest will be more than just techies :)

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