In this article with Datactics CTO Alex Brown, Matt Flenley asks about the nature of no-code and lo-code platforms like Datactics’ Self-Service Data Quality, and whether they really are a lighter way to enjoy technology?
The lo-code no-code paradigm can be a bit like Marmite. Some people say that it’s great, it gets the job done, and these are usually the business subject matter experts who are used to Excel, especially in banks and large government organisations where that’s the standard data handling tool in use. Technical people, such as software developers who are fluent in programming languages and disciplines, look on aghast at these blocks of functionality that are being chained together in macro-enabled workbooks because they quickly evolve to become monsters! These monsters become very expensive if not impossible to maintain when, inevitably, changes are required to support a change in the development environment and data formats.
The perfect combination for these technical people is something that fits in with the IT rigour around release schedules, documentation, and testing – and just good practices in how you build stuff, making them robust and reusable.
Creating application that are well-tested and can be reused in other projects are quicker and easier to use for new projects, with a product at the end that is more stable. The whole modular approach is where the Datactics self-service platform has been built: reusable components that can be recycled and customised for rapid, low–risk development and deployment within a user-friendly lo-code interface.
From a business point of view, the driving force behind the lo-code, the no-code approach is about a tactical way to address specific problems, where the existing infrastructure isn’t delivering what the business needs but the business users aren’t technical coders. For example, a bank or financial firm might need to capture an additional piece of information to meet a regulatory requirement. They might design and provide a webform or something similar that captures and relays the data into a datastore, and then into the firm’s regulatory reporting framework. This all plays a part in developing efficient business process management.
This is where no/lo-code comes in as it allows you to do this kind of thing very quickly – those kinds of ad-hoc changes you might need to do to meet a specific deadline or requirement.
The demand for this will only increase in a post-COVID-19 environment. For instance, one of our clients mentioned that at the start of the UK lockdown phase they needed to rapidly understand what the state of their email addresses was for all their customers to whom they’d usually write by post. Their data team of professional developers had rules built in under two hours and a fully operational interactive dashboard a day later that their Risk committee could review and track data quality issues and how quickly they were being fixed.
Our Self-Service Data Quality platform, for example, is easily used to address the tactical need for data quality or matching without writing any code, or waiting for central IT to run queries. You’ve all the drag & drop capability to build rules, data pipelines, matching algorithms and so on without the need for writing any code, allowing you to do a specific job really quite quickly. Platforms like this are extremely good at these tactical use cases where you don’t want to rip out and rewrite your existing infrastructure, you just need to do this little add-on job to make it complete to meet a regulatory reporting requirement or specific business requirement.
Because our platform doesn’t force you to use a particular persistence layer or anything like that, it’s all API-driven and sits on whatever Master Data Management platform that you have, it makes it a really flexible tool that is well-suited to these tactical use cases.
This means that the total cost of ownership for firms is far lower because lo-code platforms offer a wide range of extensibility to multiple downstream use cases. Things like regulatory compliance, emerging risks, custom data matching or even migration projects are the perfect situations where one self-service platform can be leveraged for all these things without causing huge delays in IT ticketing processes, or multiple conflicting requests hitting the central IT team all at once.