Customers often ask me how they can increase diversity in their workplaces. It is a complicated question since there are so many different aspects to it, such as intersectionality and its implications for treating people equally. The ‘next normal’ reality is the customers expect everything faster with desired personal service. So, organizations need to rise to meet the challenges that customers give them and meet competitive challenges in the market. This post will discuss one of the challenges of digital transformation; reconciling diversity and inclusion in organizations along with resolving ‘difficult’ artificial intelligence with ‘easy’ no-code solutions. So first of all, what does that give us? Why should we think about putting these essential industry trends together?
How can we disrupt technology workplaces by increasing diversity, inclusion, equality and being mindful of intersectionality? I have proposed some ideas here, and I’d be interested in your thoughts. Please do comment. I want to call out that I am humbly learning about these issues and I’m keen to hear what people think, listen to what they have to say, and incorporate it in my learning.
Diversity, Inclusion and Intersectionality can help you to understand your customers
Fundamentally, all business comes down to serving our customers. Artificial Intelligence can help support you to engage with your customers in B2B and B2C contexts. Now, there have been comments over whether AI is entering another winter. In B2B and B2C, the focus on the customer is starting to become more common in artificial intelligence. Currently, we live in a world of e-commerce where businesses engage with customers over email, SMS, social media, and marketing campaigns. Next, the industry will move to c-commerce, which can mean different things depending on your perspective. For example, it could mean customer-oriented commerce. It’s not good enough to sell a product to your customers, who expect businesses to engage with them personally.
One consequence of asking customers relentlessly for their data is that they now expect you to know them. Customers hope you will give them personalized service and know who they are – after all, don’t you have their data? Didn’t you make them sign a lengthy Terms and Conditions agreement that described data handling in detail? So you must know who they are, right? They gave you their data and they expect a service.
Businesses can connect with customers to offer them meaning and a purpose. However, that can be hard to do, especially in organizations fighting to keep the lights on after the pandemic and do additional future-building work. Essentially, when you’re running a business, you’re running two companies. You are running the business as it is now, and you’re also thinking about building the future business. And that’s where artificial intelligence in no-code and low code application development comes in as well. We need to try and understand what customers want, and we need to do that at a pace that the customers set. If we are not meeting the rate of their expectations, then our competitors will meet their needs.
How can we meet customer expectations quickly while facing competitive challenges?
How do we then engage with our customers, and how do we meet their expectations quickly? Competitive challenges increase pressure to meet customer expectations. Now, AI can help you to engage and then communicate with your customers in a way that feels natural and human-like. It’s also possible to view this collaboration as a continuum to measure how much customer visibility it would like AI to have.
Low-code solutions can call AI services, making the low-code apps much more powerful. Organizations will increasingly use artificial intelligence, and customers will become more likely to accept it as a means of communication. So what we see is a sequence starting to happen. And the future, AI could help you choose a present for a family member for a birthday when you’re doing your online shopping. So you could give perhaps some restrictions, the person purchasing the gifts may be ten years old, you want to spend less than $50 on a gift. So now the AI could choose a gift for you, charge your card, arrange gift-wrapping and send the gift to the lucky recipient.
No-code application development can chain together customer service workflows and sequences, providing premium customer service. The advantage in deploying the no-code application development solution is that it will help you deliver quickly to offer customer-focused solutions, and they can even use AI ‘behind the scenes’ to provide a superior customer service.
Often, in business, it is all about being first to provide a service, allowing you to be valuable in the sight of the customer because you’ve met and exceeded their expectations. No-code solutions can also make things easier internally in the organization as well. It can do that by really striving to make sure that you’re delivering quickly. And that’s not just development work that includes testing and deploying to production as well. Sometimes these solutions fall by the wayside because people don’t know how to trust them. And that’s the point: when we start to think about reconciling AI with no-code application development, we also need to consider software development lifecycle considerations. We want to make sure that we’ve tested thoroughly and properly well delivering quickly, and it does seem like a great big request for organizations to do that.e
Now, we’re living in a very unusual time in the advent of coding. Traditionally, coding has been challenging, and it is limited to people who could afford to go to university and learn code for four years. However, there is a trend for people to learn online through courses or attend boot camps in recent years, although there can be a superciliousness towards people who learn in this way, which is unfair. Online courses are often very advanced. People are learning in their spare time because they have a passion and a hope for the future. Why not harness that energy, and support your lifelong learners in their journey?
So what is a low code or no-code application? What does this development paradigm mean for the business?
Low-code and no-code application development uses development tools that enable people without a background in programming to create software that automates work processes.
So, you can see that local solutions and no-code solutions are great level-ups in getting people involved in technology, really to the end of sorting out, helping, and assisting with customer service.
What are the advantages of low code or no-code applications? First, they meet the business need where people want to create local solutions that deliver quickly. Second, it is a way of empowering people to build solutions that have a huge business impact. In particular, it touches on diversity, inclusion, and equality in businesses which is an important topic, and we explore it next.
What does no-code programming mean for Diversity and Inclusion?
The no-code development paradigm lowers the barrier of entry for people to get involved in technology. So what do we want from this? First, no-code application development should be available to everyone, not just the privileged few.
No-code application development opportunities support diversity, inclusion, and equality as well as supporting business requirements. All of that customer-focused energy can direct business teams to be more inclusive, available, and accessible to people from different backgrounds, who perhaps do not traditionally fit the young, male programmer role that we characterize as a major part of coding environments. When we look at no code, in particular, we care about people who care about customer service; we want to see the different ways that we can increase and improve customer service by using low code and no-code solutions. No-code application development helps organizations to make the most of their technology to service customers more quickly. And that way, customers get what they want.
An understanding of Diversity and Inclusion increases our empathy.
A lack of empathy can lead directly to a lack of sales. If you are not listening to what your customers want, then the organization will not be successful. It means that the business leader might be dictating a solution that nobody wants to purchase. It also means that leaders have to be tuned into the market. For example, if they are offering a solution as an ad-hoc solution that is already offered by larger organizations as part of a wider offering at no extra cost, then it is not a smart move since they are not adding value.
Unfortunately, many organizations seem to see diversity and inclusion as marketing tools, while having an understanding of these issues that is saucer-deep. The organization is there to serve people, and it will be obvious quite quickly if the business is merely a ‘lifestyle’ business that isn’t solving any issues. No-code application development is one way in that organizations can create solutions quite quickly, but if they miss out the diversity and inclusion piece, they will be offering solutions that nobody wants. Eventually, the lack of sales will bear this out; the company will die slowly, all because of a lack of empathy in understanding the market and customer values. No-code application development can make it too easy to produce technology that does not provide a business value, and the business will not succeed if everything else is not in place.
How can we be successful with AI and no-code application development?
Here are some thoughts to get you started.
How visible will the app be to your customers?
That’s regardless of their background, and their opportunities and life as well. So how can we then reconcile artificial intelligence with no-code AI becomes much easier as time goes on? We can see, for example, that some technologies are starting to use AI in the background. So they do not have to code artificial intelligence algorithms themselves. By focusing on no-code applications, we give people an opportunity to have a more significant and purposeful impact. Artificial Intelligence can support low code and no-code application development by making applications that use AI behind the scenes.
Start small before thinking big.
One is to start small, maybe think about improving an internal process, automate something that will save time, and measure productivity. The nice thing about that is that you will start to see your team adoption becoming much more readily available and accessible as the team considers the success signals from your efforts. So often, it can feel hard at the start when teams try and solve a problem, but success attracts people who may also be able to contribute ideas that the team didn’t think of before. In addition, small victories mean that people feel more empowered to deliver on those ideas.
Well begun is half-done.
In the advice of Mary Poppins, well-begun is half-done. As a first step, think of a local solution with an impact and a defined metric of success. For example, a business could automate a Risk Register if this is currently a paper-based process. Another business-friendly example is building an app that supports Health and Safety reporting. Both of these examples have a well-defined success metric that will make a difference across the organization.
Competition inside the workplace doesn’t always make a happy place to work. We want cooperation and partnerships between colleagues. When the team achieves success, people feel satisfied and fulfilled about something they’ve produced. Organizations that succeed will be the ones who solve business problems, which, ultimately, are customer problems. Primarily, this intuition will drive their behavior, and this is what will make the organizations successful.
Capitalize on customers becoming more likely to accept AI solutions.
Once the organization successfully improves a few internal processes through automation, the teams can make AI and no-code solutions visible to customers.
For example, implementing chatbots is one way forward. That means you’re starting to bring your organization and to the world of C commerce, as well as simply e-commerce, being a very customer-focused organization with a mission, and the purpose is what will set you up to deal successfully with customers in terms of their expectations right now.
You can also use no-code application development and AI to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace as a leveller. So that means getting everybody involved when you’re developing products and solutions. Those ideas and that energy will help you and your organization be successful; you’ll be able to do that by viewing your customer through different lenses on a plus note, which may lead to more popular, interesting, and engaging customer offerings. On a negative side, it may help you stop making mistakes or making a potential public mistake because you haven’t thought of something about your product or solution through diverse lenses. So no-code application development is an easy way of helping teams focus on technology, but bringing out those ideas that ultimately may help your organization lift the bottom line. The people in your business groups will know better how to serve your customers. And no-code application development can help them to have the freedom and give them a safe space to discuss those ideas and help move them forward.
Invest in your people.
Helping people along that journey is an excellent way of investing in your people. Though sometimes people say things like if I train my people, then they might leave. But what happens if businesses don’t train your team, and they stay? If you don’t train your teams, your organization does not have an outstanding workforce to deliver for your customers. So you have to encourage and teach them. In the current author’s experience, this tends to increase their loyalty. I still receive birthday cards from people who worked with me years ago!
The unexpected programmer deserves a chance.
The beauty of no-code solutions is that you’re getting the unexpected programmer, the person who understands the business and who can do something to solve a problem internally, increasing productivity by potentially helping you.
Enter the (maturity) matrix.
Businesses can create an AI maturity matrix across the organization to produce a baseline. Even think about the problems that you want to solve and channel the first in terms of automation. The current author will write more about this over at the Data Relish site in the future since it needs a whole topic in itself.
Want to innovate? Then Automate.
Steve Jobs once said that ‘innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’. However, if your organization is constantly running to stay on the same spot to operate ‘Business As Usual’, then the organization does not get the space to create. In his book ‘Get Things Done’ Dave Allen talks about the need to have a ‘mind like water’, which Allen describes as a ‘mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus.’ Automation can support the innovative and creative process by clearing your mind of activities that are distractions.
Take a look around the organization and see what you’re automating right now. If the organization is not automating at all, or perhaps not automating very much, there will be many opportunities to automate processes, increase productivity and innovation while saving time. As part of this process, one nice thing is that there is an opportunity to listen to those internal voices in your organization and perhaps find the unexpected programmer who can help make a difference.
Roadmap with a Compass.
Your matrix can help you to define a roadmap of opportunities horizontally across the organization. Then, the business can prioritize those and deliver on them using the business vision as a compass. It will be easier to get a business case for new technology investments if you show small successes first.
Low-code, low investment of time
No-code application development means a low investment, low-risk way of delivering success. And small victories all add up. That will add up to try and make your organization more successful. Those incremental successes are something that we should celebrate.
So it is strongly recommended that organizations start with no-code application development to prove success. Then, it is easier to introduce AI as part of an overall customer strategy while automating those processes as much as possible. Finally, once the organization has improved internal processes, it is easier to allow AI to become more visible to customers.
To summarise, reconciling AI in no-code application development might seem daunting at first. However, the reality is that business success will come into its own because you’ll be using the new technology in the right way to help bring about a digital transformation that’s continuous and visible. Furthermore, by thinking differently about development in terms of diversity and inclusion, it helps to brings everyone along that journey of continuous transformation.
Remember to check out Summit NA, which is taking place in Texas courtesy of Dynamic Communities. To register, click here and use the code Stirrup10 to get a 10% discount. I mention it here because it is an ideal way to learn more about no-code and low-code technology in Microsoft’s Power Platform technology and there is also some diversity and community sessions at the event. If you are attending, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you.