If you have anything to do with creating or selling software, you have probably come across tools that advertise themselves as embedded or no-code tools. Each has their purpose with corresponding pros and cons for use by SaaS software development teams. The question is do you need to choose? Can they co-exist? First, let me define what I mean by embedded and no-code.
What is Embedded Software?
Embedded software is prebuilt solutions that perform specific functions. It can be added, or “embedded,” into other software to extend its functionality. Embedded software is usually purchased from a third-party, saving the time and cost it would typically take to develop that functionality from scratch. This is the traditional build-vs-buy.
Embedded software also tends to be much more flexible and extensible since developers have direct access to the code. It can be customized to suit the particular requirements of the software product it’s being deployed within. It does, however, typically take longer to integrate into existing software than no-code software.
What is No-Code Software?
No-code software is pre-built functionality that requires no additional coding to add to existing software. It generally relies on a standalone interface with drag-and-drop capabilities to pull together the features and functions required by the end user. It is much quicker to integrate these prebuilt features than it would be to integrate embedded software code, but you frequently give back flexibility and access to customization features of embedded software.
Let’s recap the high level points:
- The typical “buy” of the build-vs-buy debate
- Increased flexibility
- Longer time to market
- Standalone software to create a simple “app”
- Decrease flexibility
- Shorter time to market
Where these really differ is in the personas that use embedded and no-code software. Typically, software developers prefer embedded software given they are comfortable touching actual code and want the increased flexibility. They can use the functions, widgets, and code bits to add more features to their software.
No-code software is generally used by line of business power users who don’t know how to code. They may use it to build dashboards and reports for their end users or workflows and apps for specific lines of business.
Embedded software provides the maximum power and flexibility. Developers can create much more sophisticated applications and customize them as needed. There’s virtually nothing that can’t be done with embedded software.
However, no-code is quick and easy. It’s also very budget friendly. There is no spending weeks and months on developing functionality or time spent integrating it. Now it’s down to hours and you’ve created a simple app.
So, which one do you really need? In reality, you need both of them. Neither one will replace the other as each has its place in your technology stack. Many software products today rely on both of them — a kind of hybrid model. I go into this in more detail in my post Self-Service AND Embedded Analytics: Is It Possible?
As technology groups — engineering and product management alike — are challenged to deliver more and deliver faster, they are constantly evaluating ways to speed up time to market. This is directly related to the idea that I discussed previously: “do what you do best and integrate for the rest.”
The ability to evaluate the needs of various features as it pertains to customer requirements is the on-going challenge product managers face on a daily basis, but this is also why product management is so important to really understand the tradeoffs between embedded and no-code solutions. Embedded might be overkill today, but a PM will be able to see down their roadmap to know that they will grow into those functions. So it’s better to develop/integrate once and not have to switch later on. Conversely, a simple no-code solution might be exactly what their end-users need to solve one particular problem and they can forgo the flexibility of embedded systems given the narrow focus of the requirements.
My company, Qrvey, has a solution that addresses both the embedded software and no-code options in one solution. We offer a unified platform for SaaS applications that require data and analytics functionality. Our embedded analytics component is just that — a suite of embedded software that engineers can use to integrate advanced analytics capabilities without having to build it. To support the analytics features, we then provide no-code solutions for ETL (data extract/transform/load), building forms and surveys as well as an automation workflow rules engine that any user can take advantage of directly within SaaS applications.
Using the same technology and just one license gives you the ability to leverage both. Perhaps finance needs are straightforward yet marketing needs a more sophisticated solution. In most cases, you’d end up buying two (or more) data and analytic products. But with all-in-one products, like Qrvey, you have one product that does both, giving your company an integrated, unified, solution.
The bottom line is: assume you need both. It’s a matter of “when” not “if”. Perhaps not now, but certainly in the future. The right question to ask is whether the technology you do select has the power to do both today and tomorrow.
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