No-code tools are transforming marketers into makers
How no code tools are a perfect fit for our digital working environment
With no-code and AI, marketers can take the critical step from “What if?” to “What about this?” That was the key takeaway from the MarTech keynote delivered by Scott Brinker, editor of chiefmartec.com and VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot.
The context is the digital workspace, which will surely outlast pandemic restrictions. This workspace is characterized by, for example, flatter and faster organizational structures, distributed (remote) teams, rapid decision making, and of course more technology. In Brinker’s view, the workspace — especially for marketers — will be enabled by no-code tools, powered in turn by rapidly developing AI.
No-code “super powers”
Three important and interlinked capabilities no longer require coding skills.
- Automation: The ability to automate routine activities and processes;
- Augmentation: The acquisition of new creative and analytical capabilities; and
- Integration: The connectivity with other tools and data in the workspace.
At the intersection of these capabilities, we come across the growing challenge of Big Ops — the challenge of efficiently orchestrating the multiple apps and tools we use every day (leading to the growing roles of Ops teams).
Automation and integration powered by no-code
There are now many tools out there for workflow automation, business process automation, and robotic process information — tools which require no coding skills to deploy. Major marketing platforms, like HubSpot, Marketo and Salesforce, now have workflow automation baked in. Complex workflows can be set up by managers (think “drag and drop”).
But these kinds of tools aren’t being used in silos; they’re being integrated. And what’s more, they’re being integrated using more no-code tools — a category Brinker calls Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (IPaaS). Integration is so central to today’s business stack that a number of leading vendors in the IPaaS space have been acquired by leading marketing platforms: Mulesoft by Salesforce, for example, and PieSync by HubSpot.
The magic of augmentation
Research from Zapier, a notable no-code IPaaS vendor, says that 42% of U.S. digital marketers expect to use six or more new apps in 2021. That’s an indication of how they plan to augment their capabilities through no-code. In simple terms, that means non-developers being able to create websites, landing pages, web apps, mobile apps, bots, virtual assistants, and so on.
The new challenge, of course, will be to manage the potential explosion in creativity. “The challenge is not the challenge of no-code tools,” says Brinker, “it’s the challenge of this new business environment.” Flatter and faster organizations will require “decentralized self-service.” No longer will projects need to be passed through centralized bureaus like IT. This will remove bottlenecks and create opportunities for anyone on the team with an idea to act on it rather than adding it to a development queue.
Yes, things can go wrong when “citizen developers” are building and rolling-out products, but common sense measures can mitigate risk. No-code tools are highly suited to creating products for internal use, and external products that are relatively simple — landing pages, for example. No-code is suitable for short-term, disposable apps, built for specific use cases.
In fact, the most apt use cases for no code are precisely the kinds of projects previously under-served because they weren’t worth the time and cost of professional developers.