Low-Code Versus Custom-Code: Which is Right for Your Organization?

December 4, 2018 Tarun Chawla

In a recent blog post, we discussed the connection between consistent, exceptional customer experiences (CX), and MarTech integration. We also introduced 3 ways to approach the unprecedented level of integration support that’s required to connect data, workflows, and content involved in delivering those experiences.

In this blog, I will examine the differences between two of those approaches: Utilizing Low-Code Platforms and writing Custom Code integrations.

Low-code platform benefits

Low-Code integration platforms offer customers and end users a single source of access to hundreds of different integration combinations that’s managed by a third-party platform. So why should you organization consider using a low-code platform, or look for a vendor who offers integrations via a low-code platform? There are plenty advantages to this approach.

1. Re-usable building blocks. Low-code platforms offer reusable building blocks for the most common tasks associated with integration. Whether your organization’s integration requires making REST API calls, interacting with an SFTP site, or performing data transformation, a good low-code platform will simplify these operations. This kind of approach eliminates the need for you to write dozens of lines of integration code, only requiring a simple drag and drop of a single card into a low-code platform's process flow instead. 

Additionally, a good low-code platform will go a step further and offer re-usable building blocks  to  specific platforms. Need to create a campaign in Salesforce CRM? Then you no longer must read API documentation, figure out the JSON structure, the HTTP verb required to make the call, or even the specific endpoint. Just drag that 'Salesforce Connector: Create Campaign' card into your low-code process flow, map the fields you want, and hit go.

Need to remap a field down the line, or add something new? Again, it's a simple drag and drop change to that integration flow. In short, re-usable building blocks significantly cut down on the time required to integrate - which leads us to our next benefit - speed.

2. Increased speed. Low-code platforms enable developers to connect two systems more rapidly than ever before. Whether you're simply needing to do some integration prototyping, build proofs of concept, or build production-ready integrations, thanks to low-code platforms that offer pre-tested re-usable building blocks to build integrations, you can do that more quickly, so you can get your campaigns and content in market at the speed you need. In fact, you can likely prototype an integration in hours rather than days, and have production-ready integrations available in weeks instead of months. 

Another way that low-code platforms can expedite integrations is by providing out-of-the-box functionality for retries, logging, email notifications on errors, and more, so you don’t have to spend time rebuilding these common needs for every integration. This is often one of the most time consuming aspects to building an integration--accommodating what might go wrong.

Developers previously had to build in retry logic for making calls between systems to account for systems being offline due to problems or routine maintenance and log integration activity meticulously, as so much activity happens on the backend, away from the eyes of the user. They needed the ability to retry performing an integration process if something goes wrong. Low-code integration platforms however, enable faster troubleshooting during the development process, which helps you get high-quality integrations to production faster.

3. Lower cost. Since low-code integration platforms help you integrate much more rapidly, the cost to develop your required integrations decreases significantly. This allows you to build more integration with the same budget and resources. Just don't forget to treat your low-code platform developers to lunch with some of that budget for all the business value they're now able to quickly bring you.  

Custom-code benefits

Low code platforms, however, aren't without their limitations.

One common limitation of a low-code platform is that they typically do not allow you to build complex user interfaces around integration. For example, if your integration needs user input, you'll likely have to develop with a clever design with the low-code platform to solve for that (for example, at Aprimo, we use our UI Extensibility features to connect our UI to our low-code platform), or you may have to use custom code.

Additionally, there are costs associated with leveraging low-code platforms because organizations typically must license them a vendor. So, in addition to licensing costs, there’s training and ramp-up costs associated with learning the new platform.

So when should you opt for custom-code—building unique integrations using programming languages such as Java, .NET, C# or other more complex languages-- over low-code?

A best practice is to first explore whether your required integration task can be done quickly and easily with a low-code platform. And don’t forget to evaluate a hybrid approach. Your integration can always leverage a low-code platform until it hits a limitation, and the rest could be built using custom code.

If your integration needs are low and your integration team already is efficient with building custom code, it might not be worth the expense to leverage a low-code platform.

Aprimo Connect offers a variety of integration options to help customer and partners easily integrate with Aprimo solutions. For example, you can easily leverage one of our pre-built connectors, engage our professional services team to deliver custom integrations via our low-code platform, or leverage our APIs at https://developers.aprimo.com to extend and integrate our platform using the tools of your choice.

 

About the Author

Tarun Chawla

Tarun Chawla is Director of Product Strategy, Integration and Business Intelligence (BI) at Aprimo. He is responsible for overseeing how Aprimo’s platform solutions fit into the enterprise ecosystem of marketing and sales applications, which includes managing roadmaps for integrations and BI, architecting APIs, and other connectors, developing training and documentation on new product features, and serving as a liaison with the professional services delivery team. Prior to Aprimo, Tarun served as a Technical Architect for several other software companies.

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