Next-gen tools that even you technophobes can build

dearsonWith continued downward pressure on budgets, we’re all looking for ways to do more with less. NoCode tools, paired with generative AI, are a powerful option worth considering if you’re in digital or marketing at a cash-poor organisation. Using them can save you and your team a lot of money and time.

NoCode is a term for a set of tools used to build your own digital products and services, without needing any technical skills to get going.

Well, I say that, but the reality is that you’ll get a lot more out of them if you know some technical basics. For example, understanding the separation of form from content, and grasping what an API is. You don’t need to know how they work, just what they are.

If you’re comfortable using an application like Excel, you can make your own software using NoCode tools.

What can you make, and why should you?
You can construct lots of things, for instance custom websites, using tools like Webflow; mobile apps, using tools like Adalo; Web apps/SaaS, using tools like Bubble and Flutterflow; and business software with Betty Blocks.

Crucially, when considering how GenAI can ramp up the benefits, integration and automation services like Zapier and Make. If you’re in the Microsoft ecosystem, have a look at Power Automate.

NoCode tools are cheap – think in the $20/month range; quick – create your own product or service in hours; powerful – they’ve come a long way; and easy to use – even if you have no technical skills

Combining NoCode and GenAI to great effect
Pairing NoCode tools with GenAI is where things get interesting. This might sound like a leap forward from the above, or several steps beyond chucking text into ChatGPT and other GenAI, but it’s well worth investigating for additional benefits.

It’s true that there are so many options on the market already it can all feel a bit overwhelming. So, I’ll stick with my favourite advantageous output: automating admin.

One of my guiding principles is that admin isn’t for humans. Say you’ve created a NoCode tool to automatically present the results of a digital programme – which could be marketing, research, recruitment, fundraising etc; that’s great. The problem is, somebody at your organisation is bound to want a meeting about it.

With GenAI added to your swanky new tool, you can have a meeting while reviewing the results. Your tool could collect the audio from that meeting and then, for example. automatically transcribe it and store it in your tool as text for future reference (no more meeting notes or contact reports).

It could also allow users of your tool to ask questions about the meeting (what were the key points, provide a summary of results, what was decided, did Jimmy hog the Jammy Dodgers again, and so on). In addition, it will automate the assignment of next actions into your project management tool of choice (Trello, Jira, Todoist, Monday etc) and let each person know via Teams, Slack, email, or whichever internal comms tool you use.

Sample GenAI triggers and actions
You can connect thousands of different NoCode tools together to create virtually any workflow or application you can think of. That doesn’t mean it’s all as easy as pie, though. There are several important considerations to take into account:

Too much choice – Versatility is part of the problem. It’s easy to get option anxiety. I recommend talking to a specialist if you’re looking at options, who’ll help you sort the wheat from the chaff and provide the best support for your organisation.

80/20 – It’s easy to get 80% of what you want with these tools. That last 20% is a different story. You might want to customise the UI, UX or workflow/logic, and the tool makes that really difficult without having some actual technical skills. You might be okay with that. If not, you’ll want to speak to that aforementioned specialist.

Conductor – As you build your GenAI/NoCode automation estate, I recommend having a ‘conductor’ who can orchestrate the way all the tools interact with each other. For smaller organisations, this can be as simple as having a decent diagram in place to show how it all fits together.

There’s no doubt that NoCode can be quite a rabbit hole but the potential is huge. The key thing is to spend time investigating, or call on someone to help who has already put in the hours. This could save you from committing loads of resource that may fall into a black hole, and surface the myriad opportunities of NoCode more rapidly.

Phil Dearson is digital director at WPNC

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