An organisation’s most important asset is its people. I’d bet 99% of business leaders would tell you that’s true. Yet, many still routinely under equip their workforce with the tools they need. Managers typically look at employee productivity through the lens of whether a job function is adequately performed and how much value that work generates for the company. What they seem to do less often is look at their employees’ capacity to contribute to innovation and growth, says Mark Mader, CEO at Smartsheet.
Most organisations still view employees as little more than ‘do-ers’, resources who are assigned to and subsequently complete tasks. Getting day-to-day activities done is important, but that mindset doesn’t unlock the genuine, business-specific expertise that every workforce holds.
Innovation is maybe the most prominent term in the modern business vernacular, and enterprises are spending millions – sometimes billions – trying to promote innovation through elite, tech-savvy teams. But placing the expectation to innovate into the hands of an exclusive few creates a disconnect. The result? Many valuable observations, ideas, and recommendations from the heart of the workforce never see the light of day.
Instead, I would argue that it’s critical to have the people who make up the majority of your workforce – those who create the products, manage the processes, collaborate with partners, and serve your customers, participate in the innovation that impacts your business.
Adopting solutions that any employee can use regardless of technical proficiency could be just the way to empower them to be drivers of innovation in their organisations. In the industry, this is called a “no-code” approach.
Democratise innovation with no-code
So, what is no-code? Simply put, it refers to tools or platforms that enable employees to create applications without the need (or ability) to write code. No-code relies on building blocks that enable anyone to easily configure business systems or build powerful solutions. Therefore, a no-code approach opens innovation to all by lowering the technological barrier to entry, enabling 25%, 50%, or even 100% of the workforce to build new systems and business applications.
No-code also offers major competitive advantages for those who use it to empower their employees. Highly informed team members with the experience gained from actually doing the job can now translate that first-hand knowledge into solutions that help their teams perform projects and processes more efficiently, easily, and faster.
Embracing no-code enables organisations to get the most from their people, while also reducing their reliance on already stretched IT teams to build solutions for them. The result is that more employees can bring their own ideas to life with the flexibility and adaptability required in today’s rapidly changing world while adhering to the security and governance requirements that IT must uphold.
As an example, we’ve worked with Uber to help drive the efficiency of their performance marketing team with our no-code product, WorkApps. Using WorkApps, the Uber team created role-specific workspaces that provide the documents, dashboards, and reports team members need to collaborate, all in a single location. Alongside this, no-code’s almost nonexistent learning curve meant the team was able to quickly design and build apps to solve their key problems – helping to limit inefficiencies and increase visibility, in turn allowing for greater innovation.
Businesses benefit, employees feel more engaged and appreciated. It’s a win-win.
Barriers to no-code enterprise
So why haven’t more business leaders already adopted no-code?
Perhaps people believe that democratising innovation is a messy process – or at least is seen as one – with the potential to cause tension between business leaders wanting to give their teams the tools they need and the IT teams responsible for the security of an organisation.
IT teams should maintain high standards and ensure that no-code platforms meet the high bar of internal security and governance frameworks. Additionally, making sure the platform being implemented offers enterprise-grade security can help reassure IT teams–and actually turn them into the heroes who are empowering their organisation with self-service tools.
Where do we go from here?
Adopting no-code offers businesses the opportunity to elevate themselves by breaking down traditional barriers that have at times held back employees. In a time where employees are more prone to leave roles they feel do not provide them with development opportunities or a connection to work that matters, embracing this technology at scale enables leaders to give their employees the tools they need to meaningfully drive growth and innovation. But what’s most impactful is that those who do so will harness perhaps the most powerful and constant force in business: human ingenuity and creativity.
The author is Mark Mader, CEO at Smartsheet.
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