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June 10, 2022

The Low-code/No-code Revolution

No-code platforms turn the basics of writing code into a straightforward drag-and-drop process. This new approach to development allows builders to create modern apps and websites visually without knowing how to write any code themselves.

Low-code development tools are built around similar concepts, giving end-users a toolkit to help develop and share the applications they need. 

You can think of low code tools as the tools for modern process automation, capable of pulling workflows out of operations and turning these captured actions into code. It requires some knowledge of programming, but not a lot.

Today, even professional programmers use low-code environments to quickly deploy applications, shifting their efforts from mundane programming tasks to more complex jobs with a more significant impact. 

Low-code platforms such as Microsoft’s PowerApps and Boxfusion’s Shesha 3 Application Framework allow organisations to create customised tools for teams to improve their business processes. 

Most helpfully, low code/no-code tools enable non-programmers to design workflow applications which can easily integrate with larger business processes.

Accelerated Development

Boxfusion is among the trailblazers in low-code development in a journey which started more than 12 years ago with their development of their award-winning SmartGov solution. 

Subsequent product portfolio development leveraged a low-code application framework which is now in its third iteration.. The platform used by Boxfusion is called Shesha, a Zulu word that means “hurry”. Other meanings include “rush”, “accelerate”, and “hurry up”. 

Says Julius Segole, Chief Technology Officer of Boxfusion, “We chose the name to reflect the speed the new platform grants Boxfusion in our development efforts. With Shesha, we were unmatched in our ability to develop and deploy solutions at rates 3 times faster than most software development projects.  

“The first two versions of Shesha focused mainly on the common administrative processes in government with pre-built and reusable components that were used to customise solutions for our public sector clients.  

“The current version of Shesha is a complete low-code development framework with a drag-and-drop GUI and pre-built components that can be woven together for solutions for any industry vertical. 

“With Shesha 3, we can now create new solutions in any vertical about ten times faster than we’ve done in the past. Shesha has been a game-changer, empowering us to develop and innovate faster. It’s what we’ve needed to stay agile and competitive in today’s highly-competitive world,” he adds.

From ideas to execution

Low-code/no-code platforms are helpful because they allow skilled programmers and non-technical staff to create enterprise applications using a simple process with app components. These platforms enable business users to deliver new capabilities on-demand, rapidly, and without depending on a heavy-weight development team. 

And for organisations like Boxfusion that do have a heavy-weight team, development speeds up dramatically.

Both no-code and low-code platforms reduce the opportunity cost for innovation, shortening the distance between ideas and execution. 

Competitive Edge, attained

The competitive advantage gained by Boxfusion from the use of Shesha for low-code application development was aptly demonstrated when they were awarded the redesign and re-platforming of the Gauteng Department of Education eAdmissions system with the additional ability to submit required documentation for applications online. 

Boxfusion had only two months to complete the redesign and deploy the new eAdmission system in time for the 2021 registration cycle, all at the height of the COVID19 pandemic.  From development to testing and training, Boxfusion was able to successfully meet this expectation by leveraging pre-built components to speed up design, development, testing, and training.

Flexibility is key

This new approach is so successful because businesses can leverage technologies typically associated with flexibility, such as microservices and containers. 

The low-code approach also allows organisations to finish application development far faster than conventional methods. 

By leveraging the power of low-code/no-code, companies of all sizes can maximise their existing resources and provide the solutions their businesses need to remain competitive.Exactly as Boxfusion has done.

Democratised Development 

Just like how Blogspot made it possible for anyone to become a writer, and YouTube has democratised video, low-code and no-code platforms eliminate the technological barriers that were previously necessary to develop reliable, production-ready applications.

Software innovations in the past have largely been driven by research in private sector business processes, challenges, opportunities, and business benefits.  As a result, fitting these solutions into the public sector has been a debilitating barrier due to a shortage of skills to configure and customise these products for the public sector.  

The consequence has been the escalation of costs to successfully implement IT solutions.  With Shesha 3 and its public sector-driven design and development, the opportunity is now ripe for government CIOs and business leaders to leapfrog their private sector counterparts in their ability to rapidly deploy agile solutions that are cost effective. These can save government increasingly squeezed tax-payer revenues, while at the same time maintaining high public sector accountability.

Due to public sector nuance for increased accountability, auditability, agility, and scalability to meet regulatory compliance and citizen demands, Boxfusion’s Shesha boasts a rich set of digital business assets that make it ideal for both the public and private sector.  

Boxfusion’s long-term strategy is to open-source the Shesha platform not only to enable the South African IT community to digitally transform businesses, but to also leverage an abundant army of technology enthusiasts to drive the growth of this platform and beyond.

“Based on Boxfusion’s positive experience with Shesha, I am confident that low-code/no-code environments are the future of development. It accelerates and enhances our ability to bring innovative new solutions to our customers, and that’s exactly what we have always aimed to achieve. 

“I don’t see us going back to a traditional development environment,” Segole concludes. “Shesha is here to stay!”