Going low-code to build a new interactive virtual experience

Going low-code to build a new interactive virtual experience

Shiv Dutt, VP – Digital Experience and Innovation at Pampered Chef, provides us with a first-person account explaining how the cookware company, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, has been utilizing Iterate.ai’s low-code platform Interplay, to accelerate development. This means its development team can complete applications and put them into production in days rather than years.

Shiv Dutt, VP – Digital Experience and Innovation at Pampered Chef

Speed is everything. For direct-seller businesses like ours working to continually create and deploy new digital experiences to our community, the pace at which our applications and platforms can be developed and iterated has become as important as any other variable.

The faster that we can get data-backed verification that ideas for driving digital engagement are indeed working to enable (and expand) our community, the better. The opposite is just as critical: there’s tremendous competitive value in learning as quickly as possible whenever the road you’re taking your application down is a dead end.

Enter low-code

As we’ve now learned firsthand (and more on that below), a low-code development strategy enables this speed of digital iteration by drastically streamlining the process of developing customized, community-facing applications.

Whereas traditional software development requires considerable technical expertise and heavy time and cost commitments, a low-code path clears away many of those barriers. With low-code, developers utilize a highly-visual user interface to piece together the code components, API-based services and model-driven logic they need to build customized applications.

By doing so, you can quickly assemble powerful software solutions and add new features for testing simply by dragging and dropping components into new configurations.

The result: far more application customization that’s faster to implement and comes together without hard coding.

Low-code is gaining ground, but I think adoption is really still in its earliest stages. We all share an imperative to continually deliver innovative new experiences and capitalize on competitive advantages wherever we can – and many industries, like retail for one example, can be unforgiving to those that fall too far behind.

With ever-shifting practices and new opportunities always arriving, low-code is enabling responses to those shifts with agility that is demonstrably different from traditional development.

In our own case at Pampered Chef, we’ve been using Iterate.ai (which has a low-code platform called Interplay, though there are others) to accelerate development and go to market faster with Table, our new social commerce platform.

Table enables our thousands of consultants to nurture digital micro-communities and achieve engagement through memorable and tailored interpersonal experiences that have been created by combining pre-programed modular content tools with their own content.

The ability to rapidly test and fine-tune the variables within those modular tools is absolutely crucial to our success. Deploying processes to iteratively improve personalization and better engage customers has proved to be an absolute necessity.

With a low-code tack, we are quickly launching prototypes of our application, bringing those experimental solutions before actual customers in live scenarios, collecting data, making improvements driven by that data and repeating the cycle (quickly).

Importantly, the risk of putting a ton of effort – and budget – behind software changes that may or may not work is largely mitigated. If something doesn’t work, we know and we’re on to another iteration.

As a business building social commerce micro-communities to support our consultants, so much is out of your control. You cannot influence the major social media platforms to support your specific goals, nor directly control the behavior of users within your communities.

What you can do is iterate quickly enough to discover and land upon what does work. If a micro-community you build doesn’t have the desired uptake right away, change it. Feel free to move on and iterate as soon as possible. Be sure to leverage a data-driven approach and put it at the helm of all decision-making, in order to accurately and honestly assess what works and what doesn’t.

Achieving the personalization and engagement that equates to successful social commerce – or success in most any other corner of this industry for that matter – now requires advanced technological capabilities, such as AI and Machine Learning.

Low-code eases entry into these otherwise daunting fields, offering simplified and more budget-efficient paths to implementation. Backed by microservices architectures, low-code platforms can encapsulate even advanced capabilities as pre-wrapped, modular blocks of code (think Lego pieces).

These blocks may include API connectors for an array of specialized capabilities sourced from a range of technology providers. For example, our new low-code-built platform leverages more than 180 web APIs and 17 third-party integrations that enable us to rapidly build, deploy and test new modular components with actual consultants and consumers.

As a result, consultants can now personalize Table around their specific interests by sharing images, videos, product catalogues, recipes, interactive games or quizzes to their own customizable content feed.

Development teams can assemble those powerful blocks of modular code into ready-to-deploy solutions withoutany need for the specialized, expensive expertise it would take to introduce those same capabilities from raw code. Instead, teams can quickly produce and tweak new customer experiences by combining custom code with these highly-capable available modules.

As a result, low-code is a shortcut for tapping into emerging technologies that would otherwise be realistically out of reach. At the same time, smaller development teams – or teams including non-coders who are effectively upskilled by the intuitive modular coding approach – can complete applications and put them into production in days rather than years.

There’s also the long-term advantage of better efficiency. As Brian Sathianathan, CTO and a Co-Founder at Iterate.ai, tells me: “There’s tremendous reusability of components (or templates) from previous low-code projects, so low-code reduces if not eliminates the need to continually reinvent the wheel.”

The rapid development and iteration our transition to low-code provides has been an essential ingredient empowering us to complete and continue to improve our social commerce solutions. Across the industry, the profound time, cost and technological benefits brought within reach by low-code development are difficult to even calculate versus traditional approaches – and ought to be just as difficult to ignore.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

Intelligent CIO North America

View Magazine Archive