UPDATED 03:30 EDT / FEBRUARY 16 2021

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Spurred by COVID, low-code market enters hypergrowth, says Gartner

The worldwide market for low-code development tools will grow nearly 23% this year, to $13.8 billion, driven in part by a surge in do-it-yourself projects initiated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s according to Gartner Inc. research released today, which also says a similar growth rate will propel the market to nearly $17 billion in 2022.

“While low-code application development is not new, a confluence of digital disruptions, hyper-automation and the rise of composable business has led to an influx of tools and rising demand,” Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner, said in a prepared statement. Composable business is an organizational structure made up of building blocks that can be combined and shifted as needed.

Low-code application platforms in particular, which Gartner defines as being characterized by model-driven or visual development paradigms along with expression languages and sometimes scripting, will make up 42% of the market this year. That market includes heavyweights like Salesforce.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. Oracle Corp. and ServiceNow Inc. as well as numerous startups and specialty players. The market is primed to grow a healthy 10% this year to $5.8 billion.

Intelligent business process management suites, which automate complex human and automated processes, is the next largest category, but also the slowest-growing one. Robotic process automation is the growth leader, with Gartner expecting that market to surge 30% this year and 23% next year to total nearly $2.7 billion.

Low-code platforms are nothing new, but a combination of cloud architectures and microservices-based deployment have recently made them candidates for more ambitious uses than in the past.  Some platforms can now compile and optimize pseudo-code to compensate for their past performance shortcomings.

Gartner says an average of 41% of non-information technology employees are now building or customizing software, many using toolsets that nearly every software-as-a-service vendor now provides. The research firm predicts that half of all new low-code users will come from outside the IT organization by 2025.

Growth is also being driven by business technologists who want to put their own ideas into service without waiting for the IT organization to build them. Chief information officers are increasingly encouraging them to do so for applications that aren’t mission-critical.

Business-driven hyper-automation, which Gartner defines as “a disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many approved business and IT processes as possible,” will also be one of the top drivers for low-code adoption over the next two years, Gartner said.

Table 1. Low-Code Development Technologies Revenue (Millions)

2019 2020 Growth rate 2021 Growth rate
Low-Code Application Platforms $3,473.50 $4,448.20 28% $5,751.60 29%
Intelligent Business Process Management Suites $2,509.70 $2,694.90 7% $2,891.60 7%
Multi-experience Development Platforms $1,583.50 $1,931.00 22% $2,326.90 21%
Robotic Process Automation $1,184.50 $1,686.00 42% $2,187.40 30%
Citizen Automation and Development Platform $341.8 $438.7 28% $579.5 32%
Other Low-Code Development Technologies* $59.6 $73.4 23% $87.3 19%
Overall $9,152.60 $11,272.20 23% $13,824.20 23%

Source: Gartner Inc.

*Includes rapid mobile app development tools and rapid application development tools.

Image: Pixabay

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