The no-name software tech boom Google and Amazon joined in 2020

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As the Covid-19 vaccine rolls out, business leaders are revisiting return to work plans with new urgency. While we’re not sure exactly when, or how, individuals will return to the office, one thing is for sure: the new work environment won’t look like the old one. Leaders will be increasingly tasked with managing remote, asynchronous workloads and projects going forward. As a result, business spending on no-code tools will increase dramatically in 2021, as companies look to empower employees from across the organization to turn ideas to action, without assistance from IT, and contribute to game-changing innovation anytime, anywhere.

It was once thought that the workplace of the future would be one in which all employees would need to be coders, and that companies would invest millions retraining the workforce to develop these skills. Instead, what we’ve seen is the opposite, as companies realize it’s a lot more cost-effective to give people tools that help them act like coders, even if they have limited tech knowledge. Giants such as Google and Amazon have recognized the significant use cases for this technology, with both companies launching no-code products earlier this year. Further, Gartner predicts over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have adopted a no-code platform as one of their strategic application platforms by 2023.

Coding employee ideas into future of companies

As a chief product officer, I’m often approached with new ideas and ways to improve product design, functions and capabilities. While ideas are great, it’s 1,000 times better when someone takes their idea and develops a functional prototype that I can react to and provide feedback. This does two things: First, it dramatically shortens the path from idea to impact, which is critical in the new, dynamic environment in which we’re now operating. Second, it ensures that the idea won’t fall by the wayside.

A working prototype demands that I do more than just say “good idea,” or “that’s interesting.” Once I see that something can work, I’m focused on making it better. Using no-code tools in this way greatly improves all employees’ ability to impact the future of their companies, as well as managers’ ability to extract the best ideas from all parts of the organization.

At Smartsheet, we’ve seen many instances of the impact that no-code technology can have on an organization within our own company. For example, during the initial days of the Covid-19 outbreak, an employee on Smartsheet’s People and Culture team used our no-code platform to develop a dashboard that helped us keep track of the health status of remote workers.

The template was so successful that we offered it for free to organizations around the world so they could build their own coronavirus response plans. The templates were downloaded over 10,000 times in the first 10 days alone, showing how an individual without any coding background was able to make a significant impact when given the proper tools.

We’re still in the early chapters of the no-code technology story. In the year ahead, as businesses return to some sense of normalcy, employees begin to identify the new needs and responsibilities of their roles, and are tasked with working more autonomously, you can bet that no-code software will be an increasingly integral part of the organization’s technology stack.

By Gene Farrell, chief product officer, Smartsheet

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