Putting the power of software development in the hands of everyone
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that by 2026, the shortage of engineers in the U.S. will exceed 1.2 million, while 545,000 software developers will have left the market by that time. Meanwhile, business is becoming increasingly more digital-first, and teams need the tools in place to keep distributed teams aligned and able to respond quickly to changing business needs. That means businesses need to build powerful workplace applications without relying on developers.
In fact, according to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies and, by 2023, there will be at least four times as many active citizen developers as professional developers at large enterprises. We're on the cusp of a big shift in how businesses operate and how organization wide innovation happens.
Giving people the power to build software that's not only fully customized to their teams' needs and workflows but is also visual and simple will do more than improve how their organizations operate — it will transform work as we know it. Allowing rigid, one-size-fits-all software to dictate your teams' workflows will be a relic of the past as teams unlock the efficiency and power that comes with building hyper-optimized applications for their specific workflows and teams. When the people that use the software can customize it to adapt to their needs on the fly, teams can more easily manage rapid change, adjusting the software to adapt to new processes and business needs without a developer's time or resources.
And given the increasing rate of change in the world today, this ability to move faster isn't just a nice-to-have; it's mission-critical for staying competitive. Over the past 15 years, 40% of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared from the list. Although some of them simply saw their growth eclipsed by upstarts, nearly all faced outside disruption they were ill-equipped to react to. Fortunately, today's leading companies have an advantage that their predecessors didn't — workplace technology that gives them the agility of the most successful and disruptive startups. When people can move beyond one-size-fits-all software and build the right solutions around self-designed business processes, it unlocks the differentiation needed to compete in increasingly crowded markets. This type of agility can be a company's secret sauce as team members, regardless of role or function, are empowered to drive innovation across the organization.
We founded Airtable on the notion that the people doing the work within companies should be the ones building the software they use. For over a decade, we've offered the basic building blocks of software for people without advanced technical skills to build the applications they need. Today more than 250,000 organizations, including 80% of the Fortune 100, use Airtable to build workflows that precisely fit their team's needs and will scale with them as they grow. With Interface Designer, our newest feature, teams can now create complete, three-part applications in Airtable — a flexible database layer for their most critical information, a logic layer that automates manual or complex work and now an interface layer that allows people to customize how others interact with what they build.
Interface Designer's simple drag-and-drop tools are built for anyone to use to simplify, contextualize and visualize their data and present their workflow as a full application that their team can easily view, interact with and contribute to. Creators can build multiple interfaces to make complex data accessible, actionable and shareable in a visual way that's uniquely powerful to each person in their organization.
Creator-designed software not only needs to work: It needs to be dead simple for everyone in an organization to be able to easily understand and interact with it. Simple drag-and-drop custom layouts mean that it takes minutes, not hours, to create an interface and share a full application with teams. Now teams can easily build consumer-grade applications that help them reach their most ambitious outcomes faster. And instead of hiring a developer or waiting for an IT department's resources to free up, the people closest to the work — marketing, product and HR team members — can build custom interfaces tailored specifically to how their teams operate and customized to how others in their organization think and work. Whether it's reporting on progress to executives, gathering information from other teams or creating review and approval processes, people can now build simple and beautiful, yet powerful, applications within Airtable to orchestrate how work gets done.
Interface Designer enables teams to build complete applications that give teammates the information they need to take action. Mia Lama, a product operations specialist at Twilio, for example, needs to customize how information is shared across several different teams to ensure people have the right context and clear understanding of what's needed from them. She shared: "As our workflows have evolved, they've become more complex and cross-functional, making it difficult to provide context and clear processes. With Interface Designer, we can customize the way data is shared across teams, allowing us to make right decisions in real time."
Empowering everyone to create the exact applications they need to manage their work -- apps that look and feel like the ones we use in our personal lives -- will let us accomplish more and unlock new sources of creativity for the world. The next generation of innovators won't be Silicon Valley engineers, they'll be marketers, product managers, operations managers, and content creators who have the new superpower to build software that drives progress for their organizations.