Reported by: banking|Updated: December 22, 2020
Ashish Belagali, CEO of Pune based 10Xofy, reveals how low code tools empower the roots of digital transformation:
Manoj Agrawal: What is your estimate of the impact that low code development will have on digital banking in 2021?
Ashish Belagali: The adoption of low code is accelerating as people get more and more familiar with them. Digital banking provides a fertile ground for low code development, because of the increased demand for addressing new requirements quickly. We all have seen how the covid pandemic has resulted in a big shift in people’s banking habits. With people trying to do more digitally, combined with regulation changes, there is pressure to accommodate more number of changes in a short time, without sacrificing accuracy. Low code is poised as the only solution to achieve this.
Initially, low code/no-code solutions get used internally for adding quick convenience. They make a quick business case for themselves in terms of not only the saved effort but also increased flexibility. If something does not work the way you want, you can make changes very easily. As a result, I am very positive that we will see more and more of low code solutions being adopted in the area of digital banking in 2021.
No code and low code are not the same. No code is more attractive from the perspective of saved effort (zero coding), but it is limiting in terms of the functionality that one can build. With low code, you can add your own code so that you can add blocks of functionalities over and above what the vendor supplied. Thus, low code solutions are the middle path between no code and manual programming.
Give some examples of changes that can be done much more faster using low code tools.
Forms to collect information from users are common across many low code platforms. Some low code/no-code tools have an inbuilt drag-and-drop way of building a form, whereas some others can use one created elsewhere. The information captured in the form automatically makes its way to a database in the backend without much development effort.
A bank could create such forms for receiving information from customers, say for KYC or foreign remittances. They may start as internal systems first where bank employees enter this information received from the customers, and then gradually grow to systems where customers can do a self-service. Due to the possibility of adding code, you will be able to add validation checks or raising of certain alarms on the received information. Another example is to automate routine tasks such as uploading data nightly to a central server.
What are the main challenges that digital transformation has thrown up in terms of software development and maintenance?
In the previous manual system, while there were lapses and delays, there was also a shock absorption in terms of human checks that could catch outliers. In yesteryear’s banks, the bank employees knew every customer and had an overall ‘feel’ of good customers versus bad customers. As these human checks and balances crumble with the digital transformation, the damage that an incident could cause is more significant. A good example of this is the recent outcry over the wrong person getting arrested because of a software error.
Another important factor is how to create trust as the focus shifts from people to process. The feeling of warmth that a customer gets in a branch is not easily replicable by digital systems.
The design of the new digital systems also needs to focus more on the user experience and minimizing users’ mistakes. Recently, a student who cleared the Joint Entrance Examination with good marks was denied admission into IIT simply because he mistakenly clicked a wrong button. Everything cannot be right the first time when a system is developed, but all such errors must definitely be fixed quickly.
Given the rising skills shortage, give an estimate of how much benefit can be achieved by adopting low code tools?
The challenge of managing large codebase has already been large, but with the rising skill shortage, the situation worsens. This is where low code solutions offer a ray of hope. The main advantage of low code is to keep the codebase small. The complete codebase itself may shrink because some of the functionality is available out-of-the-box, but more importantly, whatever new code that you write is isolated into small modules. There isn’t that one huge monolithic codebase where one could get lost for months figuring out the functionality.
What improvements have you made in your low code solution lately?
Our low code solution, Xsemble, is the Lego blocks of software. It enables one to create these blocks, called as components, through programming, and then even non-programmers can assemble them visually to create the software. We are about to release version 2.5. The main benefits of this version are: (a) easier onboarding, and (b) the support to parameters that can alter component behavior.