Low code/no code: Google’s last bet on paying this time?

In response to the growing interest in low-code/no-code platforms, Google has updated its Vertex AI platform. But the firm is far from alone in a market that also attracts the greed of Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce…

About a year ago, by launching its Vertex AI platform, Google made a big bet on low code/no code software development. But, according to analysts, this new version could finally allow the Internet giant to find a place in this highly competitive market. Last Thursday at the Applied ML Summit, Google Cloud announced several features for Vertex AI, including Training Reduction Server, Tabular Workflow, and Example-Based Explanations. Goal: Help customers make better use of machine learning models and reduce their reliance on skilled experts. “Based on our benchmarks, in 2021, the number of ML predictions generated by Vertex AI and BigQuery grew 2.5x, and over the past six months, the number of active Vertex AI Workbench customers has multiplied by 25. “Customers have made it clear that managed and integrated ML platforms are critical to accelerating the deployment of ML in production,” Google said in a blog post.

It was at the beginning of 2020, with the acquisition of AppSheet, a company created eight years earlier, that Google entered the low-code/no-code market. Despite this takeover, Google is not yet a serious competitor in this market. However, according to analysts, Vertex could provide Google with another chance to establish itself in the low-code or no-code software development market. “Vertex AI’s value proposition, which promises to reduce the number of lines of code required by 80% compared to other platforms to train a model with custom libraries, can strengthen Google’s positioning in the low code/no code space,” said Pareekh Jain, founder of Pareekh Consulting. “Google is not yet one of the main low-code/no-code platforms and this offer can help improve its positioning,” he added. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Applications, the top industry players are OutSystems, Mendix, Microsoft, Salesforce, and ServiceNow. And in the report published in August last year, Google does not appear in any of the four quadrants.

Difficulty in establishing itself on the low-code software market

Even though players such as Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce and Google offer low-code/no-code solutions, these have not seen the expected adoption, despite their promise to eliminate the burden of coding and allow non-data or machine learning specialists to create code for AI.

“Low-code/no-code platforms can bring more efficiency and are sufficient to build simple use cases, but often, even if they use them for a while, developers prefer to go back to development tools traditional. The problem is that the licensing cost of most traditional low code/no code (LCNC) tools is huge and they don’t work well once you start building any level of complexity into your code,” said Saurabh Agrawal, senior vice president of analytics and customer relationship management at Lenskart.com, an e-commerce unicorn. “Any AI project has three essential aspects: the data layer, the data visualization layer and the machine learning algorithm layer. Most LCNC platforms only work on one of these layers. Google has strong solutions like BigQuery, Google analytics, and Lookr, mostly used for digital use cases. But if the company is able to open up all the layers with Vertex AI in the automation platform approach, it could become a strong player in this segment,” added Mr. Agrawal.

Low code/no code, an opportunity for SMEs

While, as a primary benefit of low-code/no-code programming, most vendors often point to less reliance on hard-to-find machine learning talent, analysts believe that SMBs looking to build simpler solutions could offer a very big opportunity to the LCNC. “Until now, enterprises have focused more on the B2B market to attract business users, but the biggest opportunity for low-code/no-code platforms would be to democratize the technology for SMBs and individuals,” said again said Pareekh Jain of Pareekh Consulting. “Google and Microsoft are more likely to attract SMEs. It’s like the cloud market: it grew because AWS first focused on SMBs. It was later that it became attractive to businesses,” he added.

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