Low-Code Application Platforms | Gartner Magic Quadrant

What is an Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP)?

An Enterprise Low-Code Application Platform (LCAP) is a software platform that allows users to create business applications without writing extensive amounts of code. Low-code platforms provide a visual, drag-and-drop interface that allows users to create apps by assembling pre-built components, rather than writing code from scratch. This makes it faster and easier for business users and citizen developers to create, deploy and manage applications with minimal or no technical skills.

Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP) are designed for use in large organizations, and typically include features such as scalability, security, integration with existing systems, and governance controls to ensure compliance with organizational standards. They are also designed to support the development of complex, business-critical applications, which is different from the consumer-grade low-code platforms.

Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAPs) can be used to create a wide range of applications, such as workflows, process automation, forms, dashboards, and mobile apps. They are used across many industries, including finance, healthcare, retail, and government.

It is worth noting that LCAPs can be a valuable tool for businesses to create and deploy applications more quickly and efficiently, but it's important to evaluate the specific needs of your organization before selecting a LCAP. It's also important to consider not only the functional capabilities of the platform but also the provider's ability to execute, vision and the overall fit with the organization's technology stack.

Introduction

In general, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms evaluate companies that provide low-code development platforms, which are used to create business applications without writing a lot of code. The report include an analysis of the current state of the market, a evaluation of the top providers in the market, and a prediction of where the market is headed in the future.

Some of the well-known providers in the LCAP market include OutSystems, Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, Mendix, Appian, and Zoho. The report provide a detailed analysis of the strengths and cautions of each vendor. It also include the vendors in the leader quadrant, challenger quadrant, niche player quadrant and vendors that may not have met the inclusion criteria.

Appian


Appian is a Challenger in this Magic Quadrant, with its LCAP offering being the Appian Platform. Appian's market differentiation is based on its full-stack low-code automation capabilities focused on complex case management and business processes. It offers design studios for professional and citizen developers for greater collaboration between business and IT by including workflows, approvals, and change management for different developer personas. Appian provides strong business process management (BPM) capabilities, automatic security scanning on all design objects, and a component store called Appian AppMarket. However, the Appian platform requires deeper professional developer expertise when solving highly complex problems and business flows. Some customers found Appian's UI limiting and restrictive, making it difficult to implement their own UX standards.

Creatio


Creatio is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant, with its LCAP offering being Studio Creatio. Creatio's market differentiation is based on its robust workflow automation and no-code capabilities. Enterprises can combine Studio Creatio with Creatio's CRM SaaS offering to rapidly build, manage, optimize, and automate customer-facing workflows. Creatio displays a strong understanding of customer requirements, with a focus on increasing IT productivity, enabling citizen developers, and governing collaborative application development. However, Creatio's LCAP may lack scalability and it has limited international presence. Gartner analysts also noted that the vendor's market presence is stronger in the EMEA and North America regions.

Kintone


Kintone is a Niche Player in this Magic Quadrant, with its LCAP offering being the Kintone platform. Kintone's market differentiation is based on two factors: a no-code approach and collaboration features, which enable citizen developers to jointly build workflows; and its large partner ecosystem, which offers a wide range of extensions and plug-ins. Kintone's operations are mostly focused in Japan, but it also has a small direct presence in several other APAC countries and the US. Its clients tend to be small and midsize enterprises, with many clients in the manufacturing and retail sectors. Kintone has increased its customer base and license revenue significantly during the past year, driven by business demand for no-code development and a very aggressive pricing model, and it received positive customer experience ratings on Gartner Peer Insights relative to other LCAP vendors. However, Kintone does not plan to offer native AI-assisted development capabilities on its platform, does not provide targeted solutions for industry-specific use cases and its geographic reach is limited.

Mendix


Mendix is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant, with its LCAP offering being the Mendix Platform. Mendix's market differentiation is based on its support for fusion teams, support for multicloud and on-premises deployments, and cloud-native services for multiexperience development. Mendix's operations are largely based in Europe, but it has an increasing presence in APAC regions and its headquarters is in the US. Its customers are distributed across all sizes of enterprise, mostly in the finance, professional services and manufacturing sectors. Mendix continues to provide advanced enterprise low-code capabilities that benefit new use cases, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital twins, it scored highly across most key capabilities, especially on UX design, integration support and governance and it shows high growth over the past year. However, Mendix provides a sophisticated platform at a premium price, which often exceeds that of competing LCAP solutions.

Microsoft


Microsoft is a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms. Its offering, Power Apps, includes Power Automate and Dataverse, and is part of the Power Platform. The platform is differentiated by its complete offering that, with Power BI for business analytics and Power Virtual Agents for chatbots, complements Power Apps with Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure services. Power Apps has evolved from a tool geared toward citizen developers to also focus on enabling fusion team activities between business and IT users. Microsoft has clients across all industries and enterprise sizes, and it is estimated that Power Apps has the largest user base among LCAPs mainly due to the widespread enterprise use of Office 365 and Dynamics. The company has an exclusive license from OpenAI to commercialize Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) into Power Apps and apply it to its new open-source Power FX expression language, which enables developers to simply generate queries and logic through natural language statements. However, it has some cautions, such as pricing complexity and confusion due to the rename and repackaging of its Power Apps components, and it lacks some capabilities compared to other LCAPs for end-to-end business process management orchestration.

Newgen


Newgen is a niche player in the low-code application platform (LCAP) market, offering the NewgenONE Digital Transformation Platform which uses modern microservices-based architecture and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) to deliver business applications with process automation and content management capabilities. They are mainly based in APAC but have a growing presence in EMEA and North America, with clients mainly large and midsize organizations in the financial services, insurance and government sectors. Their strengths include business logic and workflow, sales execution and pricing, and customer satisfaction. However, they have limited native support for testing of applications built on the platform, a weak platform ecosystem, and limited low-code capabilities compared to other players in the market.

Oracle


Oracle is a challenger in the LCAP market, offering Application Express (APEX) which is part of the Oracle Database business. Its market differentiation is based on its use of Oracle Autonomous Database for scalability and high availability (in the cloud or on-premises), its use of SQL as the expression language and its low entry costs, including a free tier. Oracle's operations are based in the U.S. but is globally represented across all regions, with a customer base primarily large enterprises across all vertical sectors. Their strengths include overall viability, sales execution and pricing, and geographic strategy. However, they have a product that constrains the user's ability to perform common tasks such as third-party database access and business process orchestration and their customer satisfaction is lower compared to other players in the market.

OutSystems


OutSystems: A Leader in the Magic Quadrant, OutSystems' LCAP offering is the OutSystems Platform. It's market differentiation is based on its ability to enhance developer productivity and provide robust security, multiexperience development, and AI-augmented development capabilities. They primarily operate in Europe and North America, with a diverse customer base across industries. Strengths include advanced low-code capabilities, plans for AI-based automated unit testing, and user experience design. Cautions include limitations in business logic and workflow, lack of industry focus, and complex pricing.

Pega


Pega: A Challenger in the Magic Quadrant, Pega's LCAP offering is a part of the Pega Infinity platform. It's market differentiation is based on the new Pega Cosmos design system, which allows for more intuitive UX configuration by citizen developers, and the introduction of multitenant storage and backing services to help clients scale. They have a geographically distributed customer base, primarily large enterprises in the banking, finance, insurance, telecom, and government sectors. Strengths include low-code development for process and workflow automation, AI decision fabric, and successful process outcomes. Cautions include limitations in the low-code development capabilities, lack of native integrations and some Gartner clients have reported issues with the scalability and maintainability of the platform.

Quickbase


Quickbase: A Niche Player in the Magic Quadrant, Quickbase's LCAP offering is the Quickbase Platform. Its market differentiation is based on its ability to provide a flexible, customizable platform that allows for easy integration with other software and systems. It primarily operates in North America, and its customers tend to be small and medium-sized businesses across industries. Strengths include flexibility and customization, ease of integration, and a user-friendly interface. Cautions include limitations in the platform's ability to handle complex processes, lack of native mobile capabilities, and a lack of an AI strategy.


Salesforce


Salesforce is a Leader in the LCAP market with its Salesforce Platform.

Its market differentiation is based on its large SaaS platform and its marketplace and community.

Salesforce's customers tend to be large enterprises already using its CRM products.

Salesforce offers 12 industry cloud solutions and has a strong ecosystem (AppExchange and Trailhead) which is a major value-added resource for customers.

However, it does not offer AI-augmented development and its newer investments in low-code DevOps tooling lag some of the Leaders in ease of use. Also, Salesforce's pricing and contract flexibility have been criticized.


ServiceNow


ServiceNow is a Leader in the LCAP market with its offering App Engine and Creator Workflows, part of the Now Platform.

ServiceNow's market differentiation is based on the wide set of platform capabilities that power its popular IT service management (ITSM) and other SaaS offerings, particularly its support for operational workflows.

ServiceNow's customers tend to be large enterprises, primarily IT organizations that are also ServiceNow SaaS customers.

The company has a proven record of technology adoption and consolidation within its platform and is a rapidly growing SaaS vendor.

However, ServiceNow's customer base is primarily in IT departments and it is beginning to encourage adoption by other lines of business. Also, ServiceNow's business model of selling its platform as an add-on to its core SaaS offerings may limit its appeal to some customers.

Vendors added or removed from the 2021 Magic Quadrant for low-code application platforms.

No new vendors have been added this year, but some have been removed due to updated inclusion criteria. Criteria for inclusion in the Magic Quadrant include having a go-to-market strategy with targeted pricing, supporting application development and deployment by professional developers, offering both no-code and low-code capabilities, and meeting certain business criteria such as revenue, growth, customer base and international presence. Vendors may also be excluded for certain reasons, such as requiring a specific licensed third-party component.

The following vendors have been removed of the evaluation: AgilePoint, AuraQuantic, Betty Blocks, Oracle (Visual Builder), ProntoForms, TrackVia and Zoho. This is due to the vendors not meeting one or more of the updated minimum requirements.

Quadrant
Description
Leaders
Enterprise LCAP Leaders demonstrate both strong execution (particularly in terms of business performance) and a strong vision (in terms of product and go-to-market strategies). These vendors stand out in a highly competitive, global market and serve a wide range of organizations and application use cases with their robust LCAP offerings. This year’s Leaders are Microsoft, Mendix, OutSystems, Salesforce and ServiceNow.
Challengers
Companies that are considered Enterprise LCAP Challengers have demonstrated a strong ability to execute in their specific areas, but lack a broad vision for their product and market strategies compared to Leaders. These vendors have a growing customer base, but have not yet shown the ability to cater to a diverse range of customers and needs. The companies currently classified as Challengers in this Magic Quadrant are Appian, Oracle, and Pega.
Visionaries
Enterprise LCAP Visionaries demonstrate a strong vision, but less so in execution. This year, there are no vendors in the Visionaries quadrant. From last year, Pega has moved into Challengers, and other vendors did not qualify from a business inclusion criteria perspective. Many of these smaller vendors not in this Magic Quadrant have a compelling visions, and they ought to be alternatives if business financials and operations are not priorities for evaluation.
Niche Players
Vendors in the Niche Players quadrant of the Enterprise LCAP Magic Quadrant have a specific focus in the market or a limited geographic reach. They may not have the same level of vision or ability to execute as other vendors, but being included in the Magic Quadrant is still an achievement, as only a small number of vendors were evaluated out of the many that claim to offer LCAPs. These Niche Players can provide good value for their specialized technology, and may be more appropriate for certain types of application use cases. This year's Niche Players are Creatio, Kintone, Newgen and Quickbase.

Conclusions

The enterprise LCAP market is a rapidly growing space, with projected revenue of $14.38 billion by 2025 and a compound annual growth rate of 26.4%. The adoption of LCAPs by organizations is driven by three key trends: democratization, hyperautomation, and composable business. The democratization of technology allows diverse teams to deliver innovation, while hyperautomation involves the use of multiple technologies to support automation initiatives. LCAPs are also a key technology in the composable business trend, which enables fusion teams to implement composable applications.

The vendors in the Leaders quadrant of this Magic Quadrant have demonstrated strong execution and vision in their LCAP offerings, and have responded well to customer demands across industries and international markets. These vendors have also applied their platforms to address challenges related to COVID-19, such as creating return-to-work applications.

Application and software engineering leaders should analyze their use cases and business needs carefully to deliver the best results from an LCAP. They should also adopt a technology-agnostic approach, improve existing business processes before implementing an LCAP, define immediate and long-term requirements, create a high-level scope document, learn about LCAP options, strategize on how to fit the LCAP into their existing architecture, evaluate cost versus functionality, understand and communicate the potential pitfalls of using LCAPs, and evaluate the maturity of the LCAP’s developer and partner community support. Training professional and citizen developers is also important before app development, as well as providing ongoing self-learning programs.

Creating 100% Native Apps: An Introduction to Mobile Cascade Style Sheets (MCSS)

If you are looking to create native mobile apps, using the Low Code framework (MCSS) is a great option. MCSS is a fully native, proprietary mobile coding framework for iOS and Android apps that can significantly reduce development time by over 40%. It allows developers to build smarter native apps faster by eliminating a significant amount of code on iOS and Android simultaneously and allows creators to develop complex layouts with just one line of code, even without in-depth knowledge of coding. MCSS also allows for almost immediate changes to the appearance of your mobile app, with no need to update the app. Additionally, it is a familiar syntax, can use your website's CSS files, and keeps development projects more organized. Overall, MCSS is a great solution for those looking to create 100% native apps.

References

Offering strategy Quickbase is at a turning point in its platform evolution and. (n.d.). Course Hero. https://www.coursehero.com/file/p6n518b/Offering-strategy-Quickbase-is-at-a-turning-point-in-its-platform-evolution-and/

Wong, J., Iijima, K., Leow, A., Jain, A., & Vincent, P. (2021). Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms. Gartner.

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