The Rise of the Low Code Revolution

27 July 2020
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As part of our 'Adventures in APEX' series Dermot Murray takes a look at how Low-Code is changing the way we deliver customised applications.

Inoapps has a long history of delivering powerful, bespoke and custom applications alongside Oracle ERP, meeting either a customer’s particular organisational needs or industry specific requirements. This has been one of the most successful areas of our business and I believe we are now entering an exciting new phase of application development, made possible by the #Low-Code movement.

Low-Code platforms allow organisations to create new business applications with minimal hand-coding, meaning they can deliver greater value to users, faster and to a higher quality than was previously possible.  Why is this relevant in the Oracle ERP world?  Because Oracle now offers one of the best Low-Code platforms on the market, and it is transforming the way we deliver solutions to our customers.  But first, a history lesson.

Before Low-Code, many of the customisations we delivered, although varied, had one thing in common - they were difficult! For many years we produced custom solutions to extend the Oracle E-Business suite.  The sheer complexity of the underlying Oracle E-Business Suite architecture meant that even a simple app would require many months of work, challenged by issues around concurrent programs, "Custom Top", interface tables and Virtual Private Databases to name a few. 

As we moved into the Oracle Cloud ERP world, it was no longer possible to customise Oracle Cloud ERP. Of course, this was a positive move - the large number of customers who faced significant challenges when attempting to upgrade their Oracle E-Business suite due to a legacy of custom extensions meant the ability to customise the core ERP product had to stop.

Yet the demand from our customers for personalised or industry solutions continued and our technical team developed innovative ways to create extensions using the Oracle PaaS layer.  It wasn’t an easy ‘workaround’ but the Inoapps team built a reference architecture that allowed us to develop industry solutions, delivered as fully integrated extensions to Oracle Cloud ERP.  These solutions worked well, but incurred a high cost of development, required careful release management and significant expertise to deliver.

Enter Low-Code and all this can now be achieved in a fraction of the time!

The Oracle Application Express (APEX) development platform is a great example of a Low-Code platform. These platforms aim to simplify the building of applications by allowing development to be centered on graphical user interfaces and configuration rather than traditional programming through hand-coding.

Let me use an example to illustrate the point.

Last month a customer approached us with a new requirement for a bespoke application.  The application was of medium complexity, delivering an industry specific requirement based on the Oracle Projects module.  It was the kind of application that would typically take a few weeks to develop and a few months to promote through to production.

The project was passed to the Ideation team at Inoapps.  They held an initial discovery session, exploring the requirements and collating a basic process flow with the customer.  Using the latest version of APEX, the team used the wide variety of wizards and templates to build a working prototype application in just one afternoon.  Utilising the REST data services available within APEX, the team were able to integrate the source data, mastered in Oracle Cloud ERP Projects module, into the new application.  They were then able to feed data updates and transactions back to Core Oracle ERP. The end to end solution was presented back to the customer as an initial prototype within days allowing the final scope to be agreed.  An Oracle Autonomous Cloud database instance was provisioned and DevOps automation tools used to deploy the final product ready for testing and sign off.

The outcome - a custom application, developed from initial workshop to customer testing in the space of a week, using a single autonomous database and no other architectural components.  A project that until recently would have taken months, provisioned in a matter of days.  A happy customer and a project delivered far below the cost of a traditional project.

The rise of #Low-Code is gathering momentum and Inoapps is using it to deliver value to our customers every week. If you have a business challenge that you would like to quickly and effortlessly address to enhance operations, contact the Inoapps Team!

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