Using the power of no-code/low-code dev to turn spreadsheets into apps

There’s a case to be made for letting non-IT domain specialists, rather than pro-developers, drive some business application development projects.

One of ServiceNow’s selling points is that the platform enables low-code app development, providing a springboard for boosting enterprise productivity.

There’s a lot of cynicism out there, however, about the value of no-code/low-code enterprise platforms. Given that’s the case, I was very interesting to read this article by Suvashish Dasgupta, a senior software engineer, who’s gone from being a no-code/low-code skeptic to an advocate.

In his post, Suvashish, the VP of engineering at InstaV Technologies, explains how he initially took the view that if you “build a system that any fool can use … only a fool will want to use it”.

But he changed his mind after being challenged to take a complex spreadsheet—prepared by someone who was an expert in their domain, but not a coder—and turn it into a much more user-friendly and accessible application.

To summarize Suvashish’s thinking:

  • These ‘super spreadsheets’—prepared by non-IT domain experts and comprised of raw data, lookups, formulae with a summary view and analysis of the data—are common across many enterprises.

  • They’re essentially a kind of application, even though they’ve been built by non-programmers. And transforming them into full-blown apps can unleash huge potential, increasing usability and accessibility to data insights across the enterprise.

  • But, because these super spreadsheets contain domain knowledge that’s unlikely to be in the head of the average software developer, it makes more sense—if possible—to leave the app transformation process in the hands of the domain expert, rather than assign it to IT.

Of course, all this requires a mature no code/low code enterprise platform (such as ServiceNow) which incorporates the workflows, version controls, audit trails, etc., to make it happen.

What do you think? Is the app-ification of super spreadsheets a compelling use case, or are there still some no code/low code skeptics out there?

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