In response to the widespread lockdowns and social distancing measures enforced over the last 12 months, businesses in all industries have had to find ways to become more agile and flexible than ever before.
In order to meet the evolving needs of employees and customers, speed and agility have become the orders of the day – which will continue well into 2021 and beyond. Businesses had little choice but to embrace new technologies and ways of working much faster than they otherwise would have. According to a McKinsey Global Survey of executives, Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years – related to both internal operations and customer facing services.
This has prompted a surge in the use of virtual assistants and chatbots – predominantly in areas such as banking, healthcare and HR. More and more businesses are recognising the value virtual assistants can provide to both employees and customers, particularly in a world where employees are working remotely and unable to meet consumers face to face.
However, despite this recent growth, what has become acutely clear is that not all virtual assistant platforms are created equal. Today’s businesses need a platform that enables them to quickly adapt to whatever comes their way, thereby clearing the path for low-code/no-code platforms to take hold.
What is low-code/no-code?
A low-code/no-code development platform is one that allows users to build applications via a simple and intuitive user interface instead of having to painstakingly write thousands of lines of complex code. Users don’t require any knowledge of traditional programming languages. They can select application components, connect them together and create complete apps – all in a visual, user-friendly software environment.
Essentially, these solutions remove the biggest barrier to application development and open the process up to those that lack the technical know-how.
This puts the power back in the hands of the business user by drastically reducing their dependency on software developers. Users can build the app as they would like, quickly make customisations when required, and add additional features without incurring extra costs. These characteristics are hugely valuable, especially with teams working remotely from different locations and businesses having to move faster than ever before.
The fact that code doesn’t have to be written line by line also significantly accelerates development cycles. Non-programmers can develop and test applications and then integrate them into larger business processes in a fraction of the time, increasing efficiency and agility when it comes to rapidly fixing issues or introducing new capabilities.
This combination of speed, convenience and usability is driving significant growth in low-code/no-code app development platforms, particularly as Covid-19 continues to put pressure on businesses. Indeed, the market is forecast to reach the $87 billion mark by 2027 – a significant proportion of which is likely to be driven by the increasing reliance on virtual assistants.
Accelerating virtual assistant adoption
How does this all relate to the growth of virtual assistants? At a basic level, the usability of low-code/no-code platforms removes what had previously been the most prohibitive aspect of virtual assistant development – programming expertise.
The fact that anyone within an organisation, irrespective of technical prowess, can build a working virtual assistant in a short time frame is a compelling selling point. As a result, businesses will be more open to implementing virtual assistants.
And the rewards aren’t just limited to the initial deployment. Once these virtual assistants have been deployed, a low-code/no-code platform will enable businesses to drive value in more ways, freeing employees up from onerous programming activities to focus on developing functionality and services that will delight their customers.
From strengthening customer support, to engaging customers in new ways, businesses will put themselves in the best position to stand out in the crowd and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The hands-off approach
We’ve long been big advocates of the low-code/no-code method. We firmly believe that internal teams and subject matter experts should be free to build and manage their bots the way that they want to, without the hassle and cost of engaging developers or agencies every time they need to make an update.
In fact, the majority of our customers manage their bots without our help on a day-to-day basis. For example, we helped global pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) build Tabatha, a virtual assistant geared around scaling customer engagement and helping asthma sufferers understand and manage their condition using Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Tabatha engaged with 3,800 users over the first two weeks of being live. This far exceeded the engagement levels of the web questionnaire BI had previously relied on – all managed by BI’s team of subject matter experts.
This is just one example of how the low-code/no-code approach to virtual assistant development can give companies the speed, flexibility and cost-efficiency required in today’s business climate, while still ensuring a high-quality product.
That’s why low-code/no-code platforms will play such a key role in the ongoing adoption of virtual assistants. They provide all the functionality and technical infrastructure, without having to depend on expert coders. A user-friendly solution to developing a user-friendly product – that sounds like a perfect fit to us!