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Practically Speaking: Empowering Employees with No-Code Tools

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About the Episode

Welcome to Practically Speaking, a show dedicated to highlighting practically genius ideas in less than 15 minutes. Hear Lindsay, Ryan, and special guest Chris Byers, CEO of Formstack, discuss takeaways from Sahil Khosla’s Genius Spotlight episode on no-code, like how all departments can benefit from this software. Lindsay and Ryan then dig into data from Formstack’s State of Digital Maturity report. This week, they cover how the most optimized organizations empower employees with no-code tools. Use the data to help convince your organization that now is the time to invest in this technology.

Episode Highlights

Meet Our Guest

Our featured Genius Spotlight guest was Sahil Khosla, the founder of NoCode Pro. The self-professed “no-code enthusiast” actually began his career as a full-time coder. He’s now on a mission to help people understand the power of no-code and low-code tools. Listen to his episode No-Code Is the Future now.

Episode Transcript

Lindsay: Hey, it's Lindsay. If you're enjoying this podcast, you should check out our new Practically Genius Insider Newsletter. Each month, I'll be diving deep into how people process and technology combine to fuel the future of work. Spoiler alert. It creates a much more productive day with each issue. You'll get genius ideas, actionable tips and smart solutions to help you drive efficient changes within your organization.

And one thing that's become really clear to me the season is that everyone has genius ideas. Literally everyone. I think sometimes you just need something to spark you into action. And that's my hope for this practically genius insider newsletter. So to sign up, head over to Practically Genius Insider Newsletter.

Practically Genius Insider Newsletter

Lindsay: Welcome to Practically Speaking a show from Formstack where we dive deeper into topics that matter to change makers like you, I'm Lindsay,

Ryan: and I'm Ryan on this episode, we're continuing our conversation from last week on the topic of implementing no code tools. And since that's our last episode of the season, we have a very special guest for this.

Lindsay: You've been listening to our podcast for a while. This voice might sound familiar to you. Drum roll, please. Chris Byers is back. Chris is the CEO of Formstack and he has hosted the past four seasons of this podcast. So Chris, welcome back. How does it feel being back on the mic?

Chris: It's good. Actually the fact that it was four seasons is kind of shocking. It doesn't even seem like that, but it's been a long time now.

Ryan: Quite the run. Well, Chris, let's get into the topic for this week. Last week, Lindsay actually chatted with Sahil Khosla about no code tools. He gave us a great technical perspective on no code. And we know you're passionate about the topic for a number of reasons, including how Formstack was founded and including the employee and customer experience that no code tools impact.

So let's just start there. Why are you passionate about no code in general?

Chris: It all goes back to really, the beginning of my software career really was fascinated by how software could solve really interesting business problems, workflow problems. In those days, it was building e-commerce systems or building content management systems, but that was helping people sell for the first time.

Or that was helping non-technical people manage content on a website. And so fast forward to Formstack. Always loved about the company is I am personally not technical, but I do have some sense of give me a piece of paper and let me sketch out how a process can work. I can do that. And so where our product can help others, but me selfishly at times, automate processes, save time.

That's where I just get really excited. Cause I know if it's helping me, it's probably gonna help a bunch of other people who are also not technical. And so the fact that this kind of no code movement has come along has been really pretty cool because Formstack was never, you. Phrase, wasn't no code in those days.

And so it's been really cool to see an entire generation of software built to help that non-technical user sometimes even technical users, but just get stuff done faster and better.

Lindsay: You know, it's funny, you bring it up about, we didn't really even realize that we were no code. And then all of a sudden, no code happened.

And we were like, Hey, wait a minute. We started this like 15 years ago. Y'all so give with the times, but I love that you bring up that you are not necessarily a technical worker. Chris, I think on Sahil's episode, he gave a great NOCO definition, but he has a little bit of that more technical developer background.

So for yourself as a quote, unquote non-technical worker, How would you define no code?

Chris: The best, no code tools to me are really tools that people don't even have to learn by reading about them. Like they should be able to get into beautiful user experiences, try the product out and just kind of organically grow from there.

Now, sometimes you need to teach a few things, but at least what we are always trying to deliver is something that you don't have to learn a whole new language or a whole new style of using a product. Because to me, the moment you're doing that, you're just getting to a point where even if somebody's bright, Absolutely to get into the product.

It's just gonna be a blocker. They're gonna say, well, that looks kind of hard. I'm gonna decide not to do this. And so for me, no code is literally not having to drop code in a block of text or whatever, to build a product or build a solution to your problem. And there's a lot of products out there that would claim no code.

They're clearly closer to low code, if anything, but even often, then it's pretty complex and difficult and really takes weeks or months to learn how to use.

Ryan: Yeah. Sahil talked a little bit about that continuum between no code and low code, and you have tools out there similar to form stack where vast majority of the users are in the no code space.

But if you need to open up the hood a little bit to drop in script, or you do know how to code, you can take it to a whole other level. So it is. Interesting the landscape of the tools out there of what you really can do outta the box versus what you might need an additional developer or completely different tool set altogether.

Something that we talk a lot about at Formstack is how no code empowers employees and unleashes an orgs workforce, especially when you don't have to wait in an it or ops queue to get a project. Can you talk a little bit about how you've seen frontline employees be empowered by no code?

Chris: Even in our own world at Formstack, we see employees and team members use our own products and often other products to solve really important problems.

Great example of that in HR world was we had to go through and have everybody in our entire organization sign an employment agreement. And so the fact that we could use forms to collect data automatically generate documents, take that all the way through to e-signature and all built by our HR team. We didn't have to send it out to a technical team to get that built.

Well, they were able to automate that process and just save time. That was our world. But at the same time, you see sales teams who say, you know what? Our sales process needs to collect data from some sort of prospect. And we wanna turn that into a quote of some sort, and then we wanna turn that into a contract so that somebody can sign an agreement.

And all of a sudden these custom processes that live really within. Like every organization runs those processes differently. Yeah. There are products out there that can help, but usually they're very flexible processes that need to be super agile. And so you see people again in a sales, maybe an ops team, jump in, build a process like that.

And all of a sudden they have created some really great time savings. The customers that they interact with have these elegant experiences. And so when that happens, I. Everybody wins. Time is saved. Customers are getting great experience. And so that's where I've seen, I mean, across endless departments, but those are just two examples of how people use it.

Lindsay: Yeah. I love how you brought up the example of our HR team. Cuz I have seen how excited they have gotten over not only that process, but also when they revamped our review process and use no code tools to do that. And they were just so proud of themselves. So pumped that they were able to really manage that honestly, really from get, go all the way through to deployment.

So it's really amazing to see that happen, to see the energy it brings. So how do you think that employee empowerment we've seen within our own org you've seen in other orgs? How does that change in organization?

Chris: The thing that as all great companies do that helps team members is when you can give team members the ability to really be autonomous.

So here is your task. Here is your job. Here is your space, like go run with it and be successful. And so oftentimes you've got process problems. It's too slow. It's too hard to interact with my team. And so we can give them tools. That really give them these like feelings of superpowers. Like, Hey, I just solved a problem.

And somebody just told me how awesome it was that I solved a problem. That's where really great things start to happen. And of course there are these like little moments where you feel powerful, take our HR team. For example, a lot of people have seen the processes they've built and they've gone in and said, Hey, like help me understand how you did that.

Maybe I could do the same thing in my own department for something different. And so even in our own study this year, one of the most fascinating fines for me, Was how there's a correlation between satisfaction and your work and being advanced on that digital maturity curve. But the fact that that was that directly correlated with people's ultimate kind of satisfaction in a job was just really powerful.

Ryan: Yeah. I love that thought. And we've been talking a little bit about more in the inside of an organization, right? Internal operations, employee operations. How have you seen that transform the actual customer experience on the other end or even using no code to interact with customers? How have you seen that ripple out into the customer experience?

Chris: Great example is one of our customers who built really lending applications that they could then deploy to their own customers and often on mobile devices. So they were actually struggling with often underbanked people who had harder times getting loans, and they were able to help interact with banks and then customers to fill out just loan applications on their phones.

Notify them when it's like time to update something or remind them to finish the application, whatever. And all of a sudden they were helping customers get loans faster, more efficiently. And you see experiences like that all the time.

Lindsay:  I mean, I worked at a credit union as my first professional job, and I still had so much of a struggle through any of that loan paperwork or when I bought a house and things like.

Ryan: I thought we already canceled the word paper on this season, but hopefully no, one's still holding on paper inside their organization.

Lindsay: You make such a good point, Ryan. Yeah, because you all listen to us, right? Yeah. I think you do. You can take our advice.

Ryan: I mean, I'm not here for cancel culture, but if it's canceling paper inside of organization, I think I sign me up.

Lindsay: Let's go the paper revolt. I love it. So, Chris, what do you think about the future of no code? Do you have any predictions of where the world is going with no code tools?

Chris: The thing that I'm kind of fascinated by is we've all gotten used to this gig economy when it comes to hailing a car or renting a place to go on vacation.

And I actually think there's a wonderful space for that gig economy to play out within no code. So kind of imagine that you're in the marketing team and you're seeing some struggles with how your leads flow. And so you want to implement some software to create a better experience. Well, imagine. It wasn't something that you really needed to hire an entire employee for, but you had an entire gig economy of people using no code tools who could jump in kind of accelerate that project.

And they're having a great life cuz they just get to solve problems all day. I kind of see this huge group of people who are gonna have expertise in. What might be these like really small niche use cases, but they can get in and really accelerate getting some new project built and then they can bounce out and go do something else.

So they love the flexibility, but it also is great for companies because they've got access to some sort of no code tool. They've got a new process up and running overnight and they actually can run it from there because they can quickly learn the tool. And you're starting to see people do this all day.

We've. Great customer. Sarah Galyon was a great example of somebody at the university of Tennessee medical center. She just loves every single day going and helping a new department in her hospital, build better processes and create these customer journeys, clean them up and make them better. And so taking people like that and supporting them in their own careers, I think will be great for everybody.

Lindsay: Well, Chris, thank you so much for joining us today. It was really great to have you back on the mic and chatting with us about no code.

Chris: Thanks a lot. It's been fun.

Ryan: We've heard from both Sahil and Chris, how no code tools can help create better technical experiences, employee experiences and customer experiences.

Lindsay: Here are a few data driven insights around how the most optimized organizations utilize and implement new technologies. Like no code tools.

Ryan: Through our research, we found that 84% of optimized organizations provide employees with no code tools to automate processes from automating workflows to building out apps.

84% of optimized organizations provide employees with no code tools to automate processes from automating workflows to building out apps.

The most optimized orgs have been adding no code tools to their tech stacks for years. Think of tools like air table bubble form stack notion, Shopify. WordPress and Zappier, they all have intuitive drag and drop interfaces for non-technical and technical people to quickly and easily build out applications, automate processes and enhance e-commerce experiences.

Lindsay: We also found that 56% of optimized organizations are continually changing the technology they use. We found the more digitally mature organization is the more likely it is to change the tools in its tech stack. In fact, we found that nearly all optimized organizations frequently add new tools to their tech stack.

While less than half of limited organizations report, they rarely change or ad tools. Optimized organizations are not only expanding their tool set, but they are constantly updating them as. This means removing legacy systems, eliminating paper, and often switching out code-based systems for a no code solution.

In fact, Formstack has recently done this ourselves when we shifted over to web flow for our website production and processes.

Ryan: We also found that 70% of optimized organizations purchase tech that will help them solve issues in the future. This is actually in stark contrast to the only 9% of limited organizations, optimized orgs invest in tech that has the potential to solve multiple problems over time versus adopting tech in one-off instances when issues arrive those same optimized organizations consider long-term plans and larger scale initiatives as they make tech purchases, which ensures they're purchasing tech that integrates not only into their current.

Adapts to change in business needs and allows 'em to scale over time.

Lindsay: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of practically speaking and for this whole entire season of practically genius on behalf of Ryan and myself. Thank you so much for listening in this season. We had a lot of fun and we hope you did too.

If you enjoyed this season, the best way for you to show us is to leave us a review. So please do that now. And if you wanna connect with us on social media, you can find form stack on LinkedIn and on Twitter at Formstack. We wanna hear about what you liked from the season, because stay tuned. New episodes are coming soon, and as always, you can find your next practically genius idea at

Hosted By
Lindsay McGuire
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Co-Hosted By
Ryan Greives
VP, Brand & Communications

Practically Genius is a show built for innovators championing digitization within their organization.

Hosts Lindsay McGuire and Ryan Greives host conversations with real-world innovators sharing stories of digital transformation while also providing helpful advice and insights to listeners.

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