by Nish Kotecha, Co-Founder & Chair, Finboot
Giuseppe Dell’Anno, an Italian who is a chief engineer and industrial fellow from the University of Bristol won the Great British Bake off in 2021. According to the website, Giuseppe loves using Italian flavours in his bakes while also bringing his engineer’s precision to the results. It’s no surprise then that his winning combination was a layered carrot cake with a special family fig and walnut jam.
Many bakers regard the middle layer as the integral link between the foundation and the topping. While I and many of my colleagues enjoy a good, layered cake, the metaphor is not lost on us as we bake software.
Technology infrastructure is usually segregated into its component parts commonly referred to as the tech stack… a set of technologies that are stacked together to build and power any application. Modern tech stacks consist of many component parts which all have to work together to generate a seamless user experience from amultitude of devices. These components could include cloud services, data lakes, microservices and analytics, etc. When it works, you have an application up and running working seamlessly across multiple devices.
There are many different ingredients and even different flavoursand qualities of the same ingredient which makes the selection of components important because they may not always work together. Enter Platforms. Platforms are a layer that provides common services to power applications. These common services usually include data management, messaging, authentication, API management and application services. In effect, it’s the bridge between the base layers and the topping, which the users interact with.
Platformsare popular in modern technology stacks because they greatly simplify application building and deployment at scale because this layer has been already built, tested, and implemented in production level systems.Whiles it’s not a ready-made cake, it certainly provides a good foundation for an amateur baker tocreate a very delicious desert.
Further abstraction takes us to the new generation of low-code / no-code (lc/nc) platforms and applications. One of the biggest global challenges in 2022 will be recruiting developers with the right skills according to a survey by Infragistics. Not only are there not enough developers to meet demand but for those who are available many lack the necessary software development skills for the required frameworks. The survey’s respondents continue to say that they plan to address the software-skills-gap by using low-code/no-code (ap builder) tools.
However, there is a wide spectrum amongst these tools between those who remain focused on the smaller developer community and those who go further and address the non-technical employee.
Withinenterprise blockchain there is an acute shortage of people with the relevant framework skills. But not all lc/nc platforms are the same infact the term can be very misleading. For example, one provider has engineered its platform for the techie user requiring an advanced level of blockchain understanding and coding capability to configure a blockchain network and develop an application: a marginal simplification of the toolkits available from cloud providers.
On the other hand, Finboot’s MARCO lc/ncplatform and eocsystemcan be usedby those with some technical knowledge of blockchain or basic coding skills through to the purely business user opening the opportunity for every employee in theirorganisation to develop their own applications – without the need for existing technical skills. Who better to design software thanthe people who will be using it.
Organisational processes are becoming more complex and require a different digital solution. One that is agile and adjustable andthat allowschanges tobe made by the user not the software developer. This paves the wayfor an exciting future where software is made closer to the problem it is seeking to solve and lives in real time, tailored by those who know best.
Any ‘standard’ platform will be optimised to address common requirements well but may struggle with very specific requirements. For these, a very bespoke development will always remain the solution. However, these applications still need to be built on standard frameworks to ensure that future development is not restricted by alack of knowledge of the underlying coding framework.
The opportunity therefore is a complimentary one where lc/ncplatforms accelerate the development of digital tools by end users and full coders still develop bespoke applications directly ontoenterprise systems for very specific requirements such as updating existing legacy systems. However, aslc/nccapabilities improve and legacy systems are replaced with cloud powered applications, end customers will demand more control over their own software development.
We are not that far away from being able to buy ingredients off the shelf to create software as easily as we bake a simple Victoria sponge. Using common code snippets to put together a complex application is standard practice amongst developers today.
For those who still have the Great BritishBake off in their ambitions, creating layers of software could actually be easier than baking my favourite, Red Velvet where each layer fuses the flavours to create pure indulgence. Now it’s time to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with a slice of soft(ware) cake.