Recently, I learned that 8x8 launched 8x8 Connect, an automation builder that enables the no-code building of multiple-channel communications. It might also encourage those in marketing departments to manage and build what the company calls engaging customer experiences. 

Its latest CPaaS solution essentially extends the use of a visual builder so anyone can design communication workflows - even if they do not know how to code. I sat down with Rob Pilgrim, Global Vice President of Product Management at 8x8, Inc., to learn more about the offering and why the company decided now was the time to launch the experience. 

As you may be aware, the concept of low and no-code development exploded in popularity during the Coronavirus Pandemic, so it seems like a bit of a queer time to launch such an experience. Pilgrim said; that (now) is a great time to have launched the no-code offering - telling me, "it is never too late" to do so. 

"In addition to providing excellent customer experiences, enterprises have recognized the importance of providing excellent employee experiences."

He added that a part of that is ensuring that employees have the tools and resources at their disposal that make an employee’s job more productive and efficient. "By investing in no-code solutions, enterprises are no longer dependent on developers to build engaging customer experiences, all while enabling a wide array of user roles in organizations." 

And from a marketing operations and customer support standpoint, he added, no-code development can help meet goals faster because they have everything they need to get the job done, "regardless of coding experience, right at their fingertips."

An infographic displaying the statistics in the paragraph above

Zapier Data Report, 2021

A 2021 Zapier report highlights the rise of no-code tools in business, finding that 82% of no-code users started using no-code tools during the Pandemic. Furthermore, it found that 90% of no-code users believe their company grew faster because it leveraged no-code tools. 

Additionally, 76% of no-code users said they used no-code tools for their own personal projects, while 85% of no-code users said they plan to use no-code tools more this year. We will dive deeper into 8x8's latest no-code offering, and why Pilgrim says now was the right time to release its new no-code development platform. 


No-Code Presents Plenty of Prospects 

Just because a business day ends; does not mean customers do not have more questions. That is merely a reality. And the companies equipped to answer those queries, no matter the time, are likely to succeed in most endeavors. 

Creating a no-code solution to this problem implies that enterprises, in the words of Pilgrim: "No longer need to rely only on developers for tackling the tedious and time-consuming process of iterating complex workflows and custom code." 

Instead, he adds, almost any employee and team can make tweaks; create repeatable workflows - and do so with relative comfort. 

"Customers no longer need to wait until the next business day to receive a response, as businesses can develop an automated response that can either; alert that they have received a customer query." 

Zapier Data Report, 2021

Conversely, these automated responses can answer customer queries or direct them to alternative links and resources to resolve issues; that arise. For teams across the enterprise landscape, staying in touch with customers is paramount - leading to heavy investment in embedded communications solutions. 

"These solutions often effectively engage customers across various channels in an easy and scalable way," Pilgrim said. 

Take a marketing team, for example; these teams can now re-engage with customers who abandon their shopping carts. They can do so with the design of custom workflows that send automated SMS or WhatsApp reminders to interested prospects, including personalized discounts, etc. 

"Alternatively, CX teams can create smoother customer experiences and a more efficient internal workflow by setting up interactive menus that route customers to self-help resources or a live customer support agent specialized in addressing a particular topic." 


Agility Still Remains King of the Enterprise 

Agility is more than a nonsensicality; it is something successful companies thrive on. They live and breathe the concept, even. As customer expectations continue to evolve, consumers now expect things faster; and via the channel, they choose to leverage. 

"In response to this, organizations have to adopt technologies that allow them to meet those customer demands quickly and efficiently." 

Pilgrim also said that harnessing the ability to create custom communication workflows promptly; means that businesses can resolve customer issues faster - leading to an inevitable bump in metrics like customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Furthermore, according to Pilgrim: there appears to be some hesitancy in adopting embedded comms. This is (primarily) due to a perceived lack of skill sets required to deploy them. He added that we have to move past this if we want to offer the best customer experience

8x8 Connect is a core component of the 8x8 CPaaS portfolio of communication APIs, which includes SMS, voice, chat apps, video, and performance monitoring tools. 

All this; acts as a part of a more elegant affair, what 8x8 has deemed - XCaaS - or (eXperience Communications as a Service); which includes a cloud contact center, voice, team chat, and video meetings under the guise of a single-vendor solution. 


What is Low-Code Development? 

To make things simple: low-code development is (exactly) what it sounds like, a simple-to-build user experience that enables anyone who has some development skills to build custom user experiences. 

Low-code development can consist of everything from custom business applications to databases and even further make custom adjustments to things like third-party applications that enhance business practices: analysts at Gartner note. 

The Enterprise LCAP Magic Quadrant features 13 vendors, with Mendix, Microsoft, OutSystems, Salesforce and ServiceNow in the Leaders quadrant; Appian, Pega and Oracle in the Challengers quadrant; Creatio, Kintone, Newgen and Quickbase in the Niche Players Quadrant; and no vendors in the Visionaries quadrant.

Gartner: Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms

Gartner also notes that Microsoft, Salesforce, and ServiceNow are leaders in the push to outfit organizations with low-code tools, while Oracle and Pega act as challengers. 

For the most part, low-code development enables relatively the same functionality - primarily in the form of the ability to automate countless formerly manual business workflows. It merely requires a bit of coding knowledge and for the person doing so to have a vision that extends that of a drag-and-drop workflow builder. 

Finally, Gartner notes, that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will leverage low-code or no-code technologies. That figure - (up significantly) from less than 25% in 2020.