The growing wave of tech firms has also sparked an interest in new career trajectories : data science, software developing, engineering, design… But are these roles still key in the ever-advancing technological progress?
The answer is maybe not. Over the past couple of years, a new type of software has emerged : “no-code platforms” and has revolutionized our idea of technology. These programs are designed so that non-technical users can take advantage of technology in their daily tasks without the need for coding or specific technical skills. Startups like Retool and Airtable raised a nearly $1bn and $2.6bn valuation with other smaller players growing their user base rapidly (Crichton, TechCrunch). The success of these startups is not just linked to the ease-of-use of the software but is also linked to the computing possibilities it gives to a generation that has been, until now, an outsider. Not only is this new wave targeting adult workers, it has also been proliferating with children. Games such as Roblox has registered 150 million games across 40 million user-created experiences (Crichton, TechCrunch). Children are now taking an interest in these games that teach them how to build worlds on their own with their devices — raising a new generation fluent in technology.
What is no code and when is it used?
No-code is a simple interface for building web-applications that replaces traditional coding. It helps non-technical users navigate data science tools or create their own websites in a clear and user-friendly way in just a few hours instead of days. The “no-code” revolution can be used for numerous different cases — I will exemplify three different possibilities. The most known form of no code is linked to gaming — enabling players to create their own virtual worlds using their own devices. However no-code has since penetrated multiple use cases. It can impact workflow automation and optimization by helping users create websites, integrate tools with each other, or even create a connected dashboard. No code can also help with the launch of a new product prototype by creating a basic and easy MVP quickly using a website creation app in order to gage demand. Lastly, no code can be used for building internal tools such as dashboards or custom CRM software facilitating the link between the interface and the data in the backend.
Although no-code is revolutionizing and democratizing technology, there are limitations to its usability and efficiency and I will outline three examples of those. The main problem linked with no-code is its standardization. Due to the disappearance of tailor made coding, the new solution does not enable small fine-tuning parameters or adding very specific tweaks to match a niche business need. Secondly, although the no-code can be implemented and used by most, it does require some precise internal handling. Data scientists are still required to fix any issues that arise with the no-code software but also govern the use of the software and its application. Lastly, the no-code model does have issues regarding data. In order for most no-code software to be successful, these need to be linked to a pool of data that has been collected, managed, and maintained in a data set. Collecting and maintaining the data, however, is the work of a data scientist and does require some technical knowledge.
Is coding officially out?
That being said, the “no-code” model does require some level of technology fluency in the coding logic required to use the software or even the generally knowledge of machine learning and when it is appropriate to use this mechanism. Moreover, advanced placement tests for computer science have continued to grow from 20,000 in 2010 to over 70,000 in 2020 showing the persisting interest in computing and technical experience (Gonfalonieri, Towards Data Science).
It is clear that no code is revolutionizing the access to computing and enabling new and older generations to enter this world however it cannot run on its own. The future seems to be a happy medium between no code and engineers/data scientists that can help support the interfaces for non-technical users in the company but that can also customize and create additional content required for a business to run successfully.