Forrester sees three possible futures for the low-code market: it will either keep going on its current trajectory, be accelerated by AI, or be slowed by AI as developers do more coding tasks with an AI assistant and don’t need the productivity gains of low-code as much.
This is according to Forrester’s Low-Code And Digital Process Automation Market, 2023 To 2028 trends report.
Forrester says the first option — that low-code continues on its current growth trend — is the most likely scenario at the moment. This scenario would see low-code and digital process automation (DPA) growth being driven by AI.
The firm predicted back in 2020 that the market would grow to $12 billion by 2023, which was actually an underestimate as the market was actually evaluated as a $13.2 billion market last year, giving it a 21% average growth yearly since 2019. Forrester predicts that with this outcome, the low-code market grows to $30 billion by 2028.
The company also predicted two other scenarios that could occur: low code gets more growth because of the popularity of AI, or the opposite occurs and AI hinders low-code growth.
According to Forrester, nearly every low-code and DPA vendor is adding AI-enhanced capabilities, aka TuringBots. This scenario assumes that low-code market growth will roughly follow the growth trajectory for generative AI, which Forrester predicts as 33% per year.
The other scenario — that AI kills the low-code market — is the one Forrester considers to be least likely. It would come about as a result of conditions like a bad economy, market saturation, or several high-profile security incidents tied to citizen developers.
“The most dramatic possibility is that TuringBots make traditional high-coding so productive that professional developers reject low-code and switch back to high-coding everything,” Forrester wrote in the report. “Therefore, in this scenario, we assume a growth rate of 11% over the next five years, which is generally in line with Forrester’s projections for the commercial software market as a whole.”
In addition to predicting what’s to come, Forrester’s report also included several observations on what’s happening in the market currently. It seems that low code and DPA have become interchangeable and that the distinction between citizen and professional developers is blurring, with fusion teams are becoming a reality.
Trends among low-code vendors have included that vendors from adjacent categories are entering the space, the larger vendors (Microsoft, Salesforce, and ServiceNow) are dominating the space, and the smaller vendors are starting to specialize on specific use cases as a result.