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The variety and number of tools and technologies available to organizations have skyrocketed in recent years. As a result, IT and GIS departments no longer run homogeneous environments but rather use multiple applications, deployed both on premise and on private and public clouds. With all of these cross-platform, multi-application processes, custom scripts are no longer the ticket to the speed and agility that organizations need.

In the specific case of GIS departments, a successful team should be supported by not only skilled GIS analysts but also employees with specialized IT skills such as systems administrators, DBAs and strong programmers. In today’s world, finding experienced developers and DBAs for an IT or GIS department is not an easy task, especially if you’re looking for expertise in each of the applications and tools you use in our processes.

The worldwide low-code development technologies market is projected to total $13.8 billion in 2021, an increase of 22.6% from 2020, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. The surge in remote development during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to boost low-code adoption, despite ongoing cost optimization efforts.

Gartner, 16 février, 2021

What is a low-code development solution?

A low-code development solution provides users with building blocks they can assemble into workflows and applications. These building blocks abstract from the code behind actions and commands, allowing users to assemble workflows and applications without the need for hand-coding. These platforms also supply visual user interfaces and reusable components that users can drag and drop into processes to build apps fast.

Low-code vs. no-code

A solution that exclusively provides tools for designing processes with no need for writing custom scripts qualifies as no-code. If the same solution provides access to functionalities for integrating new or existing code, it is then considered low-code.

No-code platforms are targeted more at teams who are not very tech savvy and who don’t have many customization needs. Low-code technologies, on the other hand, are much more suited to environments where most GIS analysts are highly skilled and where geospatial data will be used for several different purposes.

What low-code can do for your GIS team

In technology, with time and money you can do almost anything! Unfortunately, organizations nowadays are under incredible pressure to do more with less—and GIS departments are no exception, having to find ways to deliver more services to their partners with smaller teams and tighter budgets. But with a low-code platform like FME and FME Server, they can:

Leverage their GIS team’s skills

Developers with a minimum of GIS knowledge or, even better, GIS analysts with programming skills, are few and far between. With a low-code platform, any analyst with solid knowledge of their data can develop automations to create maps, reports and other products. Automations are precious time savers, as they eliminate the menial, redundant tasks that would usually be required to produce these outputs.

Eliminate shadow IT

For a multitude of reasons, both good and bad, some GIS departments find themselves managing software without the IT department’s consent. The reasoning is often the same: our requests take too long to process. By using a low-code development tool to rapidly deploy new processes and integrations, GIS departments can dramatically reduce the need for shadow IT.

Efficiently create automations and integrations

A low-code platform with quality tools can considerably speed up development for automating end-to-end tasks and processes, for both GIS and IT teams. FME enables direct integrations with all major providers (AWS, Azure, Cityworks, SharePoint, etc.) and makes it possible for analysts to easily connect to APIs and web-based services and to databases and files of all kinds (CSV, DWG, Lidar, etc.).

Meanwhile, a low-code server application allows you to configure a chain of automations that can be triggered according to events, a schedule or on demand. With predefined integrations and accessible APIs, virtually any business process that has digital inputs can be chained together.

Simplify prototyping and quickly create iterations

A low-code platform such as FME provides tools to help analysts and developers quickly iterate and modify existing processes. For example, the graphical user interface allows you to view the attributes that have, or have not, been processed successfully, at any point in the process. Validation and correction components can be added at any time to ensure that processes will run successfully at all stages once they go into production.

Boost productivity

Streamlining integrations between different applications and using more automations are great ways for GIS and IT departments to do more in less time. A low-code data integration platform offers tools to simplify process deployment, including monitoring and alerting capabilities to notify administrators when a process is at risk of failure. Processes can also be rerouted automatically in order to prevent information from taking too long to be delivered when a server is at full capacity. In addition, validation and correction tasks can ensure the accuracy of the information delivered.

Simplify development standards

The graphical user interface of an application like FME makes it easier to understand workflows and process flows. It also considerably reduces the time required to create the documentation to effectively maintain and update your automations and developments.

How about your existing scripts?

Unless it is a clearly defined corporate goal, low-code does not need to replace scripts altogether. Most structured departments have put years of hard work into building their script libraries, and if their scripts are reliable and efficient, there is no reason to get rid of them. In this case, a low-code platform can be used to enhance and secure some of these scripts.

How can low-code drive geospatial performance?

One of the key ways to improve your geospatial performance is to invest in process optimization and skill development for GIS specialists, all while favouring malleable, adaptable governance rules and keeping organizational constraints in mind.

A low-code platform like FME can help you get there. First of all, because it makes it easier to involve GIS specialists in the creation of automations that ultimately give them more options for optimizing processes, and also, because the built-in monitoring functionalities and the ease of setting development standards are in perfect alignment with the need for flexible governance rules.

The GIS industry is poised for tremendous growth. However, we know now that the old reflex to rely on custom scripts to deliver and develop new services and applications is no longer able to deliver on the speed and agility that organizations need. Low-code platforms can help GIS departments to position themselves as a key player in governments and businesses to improve service delivery, promote civic engagement and address issues such as the environment and mobility.

Wondering what a low-code solution like FME can do for your GIS department?