A note to IT teams: Don’t let fear stand in the way of progress (Guest post)

Virginia Choy, CEO of PretaGov, wants to see more IT teams embracing low-code in their digital transformation strategies instead of being afraid of change

Coding has long been regarded as the gold-standard in computer programming since its creation in the 1960s, and those who have the skillset to use it and create something from nothing continue to command respect among business leaders. However, the arrival of low-code technology has caused a degree of controversy among IT departments.

Low-code is getting a reputation as being a more cost effective and viable solution for businesses to migrate paper-based processes online. However, as its popularity grows, more IT teams are falling victim to Prosophobia; a fear of change or new things. Those who are scared of progress are usually afraid of the unknown, and the concept of low-code seems like a threat to their career.

I am reminded of a situation I faced as a result of interdepartmental conflict. On one side, we had a progressive project manager who wanted to bypass the internal IT team because they ‘weren’t delivering on their promises’. He embraced the concept of change and encouraged a new way of thinking; a real digital leader. On the other side was a team of cautious IT technicians who were crippled with doubt about the security of low code platforms. The end result was to find ways to veto the project and to this day, no progress has been made.

This misalignment between two ends of the digital transformation spectrum is impacting progress, and we need to bring digital leaders and IT teams together in order to move forward.

 

Addressing the Pessimist

So why are mainstream IT teams so reluctant to accept new technologies? It comes down to a perceived lack of complexity in comparison to their skillset, and a misunderstanding about how low-code software impacts their role and responsibilities.

Skill inertia: Software development is considered a highly-skilled task, and it has always attracted adept individuals who take pride in fixing complex technical problems. There is a perceived notion that by introducing easy to use, ‘plug-and-play’ systems you can eradicate the frequent early-stage coding issues and they will begin to stagnate in their roles and their value to the organisation may even diminish.

Job security: If you introduce software that is perceived to negate the need for developers, where will the developers do? Low-code solutions enable non-technical personnel such as business analysts to do the legwork in the channel shift. The idea of shared responsibility means IT technicians think their role will be dumbed down or even no longer required for the job. In fact, in a low code environment developers will be applying their highly valued skills in customised coding, when it’s needed.

Vulnerability: The threat of hacking and cybercrime weighs heavily on CIOs as the fallout from a scandal is hard to come back from. In many ways this real concerns is used as a scapegoat to scupper the use of new technologies such as cloud or SMEs. The old adage, “no one was ever fired for buying IBM”, still holds true.

 

How to Avoid Fight or Flight

If organisations have any hope of moving services online, low-code will be an essential element in the next phase of digital transformation. Low-code is a development process like no other, and in a time when speed and money is critical, it is a necessary adaptation that businesses need to employ if they hope to stay ahead of the curve.

The primary objective of low-code Software as a Service is to help all workers – business analysts, digital leaders, and IT support – perform more meaningful, business critical tasks, rather than dealing with issues such as load balancing, data security and so on.

Unfortunately IT teams are feeling underwhelmed by the new kid on the block, and feel that their skills or expert knowledge in coding will be surplus to requirement. Far from wanting to make them feel like drones, the low-code mechanics reduce the niggling complaints that plague digital transformation, and allow them to get more creative and, more importantly, remain business critical.

The fact remains that IT personnel are invaluable in the move of online services, regardless of the tools at their disposal. Introducing easier and more effective processes to streamline migration will make IT teams more productive and ultimately more attractive to the decision makers.

To avoid a fight or flight response in the IT department, digital leaders should re-educate staff about the potential of low-code, as a means of enhancing their position within the organisation. They need to reassure staff that these solutions are not introduced because they are underperforming or irrelevant; they are there to make them key players in digital transformation.

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