Salesforce Reveals New Low-Code App Tools for Lightning Platform

Now available in pilot, Lightning Object Creator and Lightning Flow Builder do things like turn spreadsheets into apps, automate processes for customer or employee UX and add new layers to processes, such as accepting credit card payments or adding a video player.

Salesforce.Lightning

No-code and low-code software development, known in some circles as citizen development, has blossomed into a real DIY (develop it yourself) trend in the last couple of years. It’s all about starting with a basic app framework that can be customized for the task at hand—without having to call in IT staff to do what for them is usually boring and routine coding.

According to Forrester Research, the low-code software market will reach $15 billion by 2020. However, some employees—whether at small businesses or large enterprises—are going a step further, turning to completely no-code platforms to quickly build custom business applications, increase productivity and improve their daily jobs (and paychecks, we might add)—all with IT’s approval and governance.

Salesforce, which has more than 250,000 customers using its cloud-based services around the world, has not missed this trend. In keeping up with its own leadership in the CRM sector, the San Francisco-based giant on Sept. 13 launched a new generation of low-code tools inside its Lightning Platform, so line-of-business employees can build or augment apps even faster than before.

“Building apps is now everyone’s business,” Anne DelSanto, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Salesforce Lightning Platform, told eWEEK. “The new version of Lightning Platform has a new category called Flow Action, which we’re opening on the App Exchange. This is a no-code way for business users to just drag and drop [components] into what ISVs and our partners have built. They can bring that in and build richer experiences in Salesforce.”

New Functionality in Lightning Platform

The newest low-code tools on the Salesforce Lightning Platform include the following:

  • Lightning Object Creator is a new platform service that allows anyone to turn spreadsheets into modern apps with clicks, not code. For example, salespeople at a car dealership once had to enter customer information from paper test drive forms into spreadsheets—an error-prone, labor-intensive process. Those teams can now drag and drop spreadsheets into the Object Creator, review data fields for accuracy (e.g., car makes and models) and publish a digital form, available on desktop or mobile. In Salesforce, users can further analyze the data or add it to existing records with support for Search, Notes or Files within Salesforce—extending the power of that customer’s CRM deployment.
  • Lightning Flow Builder is a new low-code tool that empowers business users of any developer skill level to automate processes for customer or employee experiences (e.g., manage an insurance claim). Based on the Lightning Design System, the Lightning Flow Builder is an efficient and easy to use—with simplified toolboxes that find workflow elements connected to customer records. In addition, newFlow Actions—pre-built, reusable components for industries and specific use cases—add new layers to automated business processes, including the ability to accept credit card payments or add a video player. Admins also have the option to use Einstein Next Best Actionto recommend flows, leveraging the power of rules-based and predictive models to provide sales, service and marketing agents with intelligent, contextual recommendations for customers.

Use case example: With Lightning Flow Builder, the same car dealership above can create a flow that takes both staff and prospective buyers through a step-by-step process to configure (i.e., color, make and model) and purchase a new car. Einstein Next Best Action guides the sale based on details from the test drive, customer history and more to suggest incentives that would help close the sale—e.g., offers for free maintenance or extended warranty. Meanwhile, Flow Actions throughout allow the salesperson to enhance their customer interaction at relevant points within the workflow, with access to marketing videos, industry data and even the ability to take payment on the show floor.

A Smarter AppExchange Guides Customers to the Right Solutions, Faster
Eighty-eight percent of Salesforce customer organizations use AppExchange solutions and have made nearly 6 million installs. AppExchange is now live with updates, including intelligent recommendations and a new category for Flow Solutions.

Starting Sept. 13, users can log onto AppExchange to see:

  • Smarter Recommendations, including a “Recommended for You” page that lists suggested solutions based on customer location, install history, profile data and more. For example, a business reinventing project management will see recommendations change as soon as admins search for or install an app for online appointment scheduling. These recommendations are also informed by the profile of other customers who’ve searched for or installed similar solutions.
  • Lightning Flow Actions, partner-built, drag-and-drop solutions that unleash the full potential of automated business processes. More than a dozen partner-built solutions are already available - including Flow Actions for running credit checks (Oktana), adding a video player (Vidyard) and generating quotes for loan processing (Accenture).

Lightning Platform Strikes at Dreamforce

The Lightning Platform and AppExchange will be demonstrated at Dreamforce, Sept. 25-28 in San Francisco. According to a recent IDC study, organizations building on the Salesforce Lightning Platform saw a return on investment of 545 percent over a span of five years. Additionally, IDC found that business users gained productivity that included 63 percent faster lifecycles for app development.

Pricing and Availability

Lightning Object Creator and Lightning Flow Builder are now available in pilot. Further pricing information will be announced at general availability in the first half of 2019, the company said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...