Tejas Gadhia on using low-code or no-code apps


In this special episode of Small Biz in 15, Shawn Hessinger, Executive Editor for Small Business Trends traveled to Austin, Texas for ZohoDay 2022 to interview Zoho Product Manager Tejas Gadhia, who discusses low-code and no-code solutions and how small businesses will they can use to improve their workflow.

When to use no or low-code automation?

Shawn: When we say no code and little code, what are we saying? What? What is it? What do we mean when we say they are not code or low-code apps?

Tejas: Low or no-code is a term that I think has gotten a bit muddy because now everyone wants to be a low-code supplier. The way I separate them is that no code product is purely driven by point & click configuration.

So this could be anything that just point and click, drag and drop, create something and have some fields and customizations. Your workflows should be easily configurable by simply entering some criteria and adding actions.

Low-code for workflow takes that and ups the ante a bit where the basics are still no-code drag-and-drop capabilities, but the added benefit or the low-code portion of it is generally through an abstracted scripting language .

Another way I distinguish a scripting language from a programming language is if you’re a little familiar with Excel and its formulas, and maybe even the macro space, that’s the low-code space for you. I think most people are quite proficient in Excel and a little scared of the low code codeword, but a good product has a good scripting language that makes it really easy for someone to pick it up and get to it quickly taking advantage .

Shawn: How easy is it to build an app with a low-code or no-code solution?

Tejas: It’s super easy, but more than that, I think there’s been a big shift. We’re basically the smaller the organization now, the more agile and basically they have access to better software than large organizations, which gives them a big head start to really grow faster than their perhaps bigger competitors.

And what I mean by that is local tools, especially as a small business owner, maybe say less than 50 employees and even smaller the more agile it is. On the other hand, the bigger you get, the more administrative things you have to do. But the smaller you are, the more control and knowledge you have over whatever process you are trying to solve. And with low-code, the process owner, who is the most important stakeholder, can define the created process and, more importantly, make changes to it quickly.

Shawn: Can you give some examples, perhaps from your own experience of things you’ve seen customers do with a low-code or no-code solution?

Tejas: I’ve seen the simplest or the most complex things. I’ve seen a simple registration form and I’ve seen ERP systems and everything in between.

Every time someone starts, I always tell them to start with the registration form. Start with something as simple as possible, and sometimes even personal things want to try.

Like my sister got married five or six years ago, give or take, and she wanted an RTP system for her wedding. I said, “Okay, we looked at the market. Indian weddings are a bit complicated. They have like all these events and different people are invited to another event, whatever.”

And so it was quite difficult to find a good solution in the market. And I was like, you know what? I know low-code, no-code tools pretty well. Let me quickly build you something. So we built a system with logic in it where people can register, you type in your email address and so on. But it’s a non-work-related thing that makes me think about what the workflow is and what the process will look like.

And it gives me that confidence when it comes to a business. And I can translate the same questions as what happens next? what should be done before? what data do I need to make sure it’s there for it to work, and so on.

Shawn: Let’s take a concrete example of a company that may not be very technical in terms of what they do, say an installment company. What is a no-code or low-code solution they would want to implement where they don’t want to hire a whole technical team on top of everything else they have to worry about?

Tejas: A lot of people who look at low code, not code solutions, kind of go along with this build first mentality because they want to solve problems and fix their own stuff; build it yourself from scratch, in other words. Sometimes I think there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

So sometimes it might be good for a customer management and installation company to have a CRM and your low-code tool extends or extends an existing CRM functionality. You can build a CRM in a low-code way. You have some tables for contacts and leads and deals. You work on installations and agreements. These are all, you know, CRM foundations.

But sometimes it’s best to leave that part to the CRM and then focus on creating a customer experience for… maybe the installers going into the field, have a way for them to check into a location, can add photos and make notes of whatever it is they are installing, have a customer sign for it on the spot. These are all kinds of ways that are out of the CRM scope, but kind of where the Low-Code X factor is.

I want to say there’s a one size fits all, but I almost always tell people to check out the market and see if there’s something that does exactly what you need it to do before moving on to this build-first mentality .

Should you hire someone for low-code development?

Shawn: I’ve talked to small business owners who use low-code, no-code solutions and yet they hire someone to help with the process. Is there an advantage of low-code, no-code if you have to hire someone else for the limited time, instead of hiring a developer?

Tejas: I think working with the developer or partner is not always a bad thing. At least it’s someone to bounce ideas off of and make sure you’re doing something the right way. The problem is finding a really good developer or partner who is roughly on the same wavelength as you.

But you want to make sure someone isn’t upselling you or telling you the wrong things, all that sort of thing. But for working with the partner, in general there are things you can build that can be time consuming to build, but you also want that person to bring in an extra expertise to solve a problem that you wouldn’t have tackled on your own. think.

Shawn Hessinger: Suppose I want a low-code or no-code solution, how do I know what to look for? How do I know if I’m getting something really simple if you say I can build it myself or if they’re using that as a marketing term, and maybe not really?

Tejas: It’s always hard to get through marketing. Especially now that marketing is getting so big. Good things to ask is if it’s the only thing they make or one of the many things they make.

Another thing to ask is the history of evolution and whether it has gotten better over time. For example, does it actually add more features that you could use that seem reasonable? And are their features what you see valuable to your type of business?

And by that I mean, is it something like a new feature with some AI capabilities that offers some trendy analytics or predictions? Or is that new functionality an NFT marketplace that should help you figure out which features actually add value to my business and align with the kinds of things you’re looking for in the long run?

Another thing to consider is how your interaction with that company and how that relationship is, because these low-code platforms are very proprietary and you can’t really go from one to the other the second you sign up for a and you start building on it and you’re like, maybe you’re sitting there for a year or whatever, that company knows they’ve got a little bit of their hold on you. Namely, you are signed up for a one year contract, you get renewals of 10% to 20% year on year because you are not going anywhere because they know they have you. That shows a lot more about their business ethic than any marketing blogger or anyone can do.

Be sure to watch our video Small Biz in 15: On Location with Zoho Product Manager Tejas Gadhia to learn more about how using point & click configuration can help automate your workflow.

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