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How Citizen Development Empowered by Low-Code/No-Code is Going to Unleash Innovation

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Citizen development is a disruptive approach to digital transformation and organizational innovation, where teams are empowered to turn ideas into applications using no-code/low-code technology. This blog provides insights, advice and practical knowledge from thought leaders and practitioners in Citizen Development.

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How Citizen Development Empowered by Low-Code/No-Code is Going to Unleash Innovation
 

We are at a time where technology is constantly evolving. Markets are increasingly becoming more competitive and the availability of skilled software developers appears almost non-existent. However, despite the drought in programmers, the demand to create or maintain business applications still stands and is stretching beyond organisational capabilities.

In fact, Forrester states that by 2024, there will be a total shortage of 500,000 software developers in the United States alone, (How to Harness Citizen Developers to Expand Your AD&D Capacity, Forrester Research, Inc., April 19, 2017).

Is this surprising to me? The answer to this, not really. Certainly, depending solely on traditional software development is not a stable strategy to address organisational demands, not to mention the high costs and long waiting times associated with it.

I believe we are at the beginning of a new era and that the way digital systems are created is changing forever. Technology has significantly evolved in recent years, so much so that even the most complex applications or critical systems can be changed easily without writing any code.

With this shift, we will increasingly see the democratisation of digitalisation that will enable people from different backgrounds to build those systems.

This is going to be the era that unleashes a stream of innovation not seen before.

Innovation

And this is where citizen development plays a key role.

So, for someone who is embarking on the citizen development journey, I can tell you that citizen development has one mission; to propel the rapid adoption of digital technologies which defines the main role of citizen developers.
 

Why is citizen development on the rise?

We are at a stage where many organisations quickly adopted new technologies during COVID to move their business forward. Low-code/no-code development platforms have been among those technologies that helped companies to quickly connect their people, processes and technologies.

Since this has been appealing to many and it has brought quick outcomes, reverting back to the old ways once COVID is over is not really an option. When used right, technology can play an integral part in improving user engagement, productivity, communications and more.

Citizen development allows organisations to address some of the main pain points of delivering technology such as long waiting times, overloading IT teams and expensive outsourcing.

According to Gartner, 61% of organisations either have or intend to implement citizen development. This move reflects the rising popularity that citizen development is receiving. But, why are leaders paying so much attention to it?

Citizen development is the answer and testament to an organisation’s desire to “deliver more with less resources”.

Its growing popularity comes down to driving productivity while allowing companies to save resources. On the plus side, it allows companies to stay competitive and combat the scarce availability of IT talent by empowering citizen developers to address their organisations digitalisation needs themselves.

Not only does citizen development alleviate the pressure on IT departments but it also speeds up software development life-cycles, offering business processes faster time to market. Additionally, organisations are receiving greater efficiencies by creating a space for non-technical employees to continuously innovate and drive digital transformation.

The prominently increasing adoption of citizen development is not surprising considering the benefits that can be attained.
 

Who is citizen development for?

Citizen development is for anyone within an organisation who is keen to teach themselves basics of low-code/no-code and become an expert in the field. It is for anyone who is willing to work in a fast-growing sector that will accelerate the way companies address the needs of both customers and employees.

The benefits of citizen development are compelling for obvious reasons. It is a great way for someone to skill-up in the long-term and take their part in shaping the technology.

The low-code/no-code movement continues to gain momentum and you can be part of it too.

However, it is important to execute any citizen development initiatives with some factors in mind. There are certain elements one should pay attention to, in order to successfully nurture a culture of citizen developers to generate the best outcomes.
 

4 Factors That Will Foster a Successful Culture of Citizen Development

1. Governing Shadow IT

Providing access to systems and tools to employees outside of IT certainly permits them to be innovative and reduce the pressure on IT departments. With that said, it shouldn’t mean that non-IT users should develop software on their own initiative without input from IT as this can cause an array of problems such as security risks, slow deployment and so on.

Instead, the standard procedures that already exist in an organisation when it comes to change management and deployment of new solutions, should as well apply to citizen development initiatives.

IT departments should create a controlled environment to prevent shadow IT from occurring. That way, IT can either oversee citizen development projects or actually collaborate with citizen developers to minimize risk and ensure security and control.
 

2. User-first approach

A user-first approach is one of the great ways to avoid shadow solutions in an organisation. Getting user feedback early and often, making sure to stay laser focussed on all type of users throughout the development of solutions is crucial for success.

To be able to deliver solutions with a user-centric approach, you need to choose the right tool that is flexible and allows you address your unique requirements.
 

3. Choosing your tool

Investing some time to choose the right tool from the beginning is really important. A tool should be chosen on the basis that it suits your individual requirements and the people who will be using it.

Low-code and no-code terms more or less sound similar. However, there are some differences. As the name suggests, low-code development platforms still require a certain level of coding and therefore, are more suitable for those who obtain a certain degree of knowledge in programming.

No-code development platforms don’t require any coding or require very little coding and essentially empower any innovator with or without technical knowledge to create applications.

In short, low-code empowers mostly IT departments to speed up software development in order to create applications at a faster pace. On the other hand, with no-code, both IT and non-IT professionals can build digital solutions which ultimately accelerates software development.

Choose a tool that can integrate with your existing systems, that is flexible, allows you to adapt and does not create limitations.
 

4. Training and supporting citizen developers

Preparation is key. Low-code/no-code tools primarily focus on user experience and are mostly easy-to-use. However, it is important to train and mentor citizen developers to adopt the standard toolset to facilitate their confidence, development of new skills and techniques and their accomplishments in developing applications.

Delivering valuable assistance and encouraging non-technical developers will help them to stimulate innovation, enjoy the experience and create powerful applications for the business.


What’s next for citizen development?

Traditional software development has been around for many decades and will be around for many more. Both no-code and custom coding will take their part in the implementation of future technologies. Companies will still need custom coding.

However, citizen development will grow with the goal of allowing rapid delivery of solutions that sit closer to end users. Over time, solutions that are built by citizen developers will make up the larger chunk of the solutions build within an organisation.


Adoption of citizen development initiatives has transformed how organisations respond to inefficiencies and has been driving digital transformation for many in the recent years.

More and more organisations will realise that promoting citizen development equates to governance, simultaneously prevents shadow IT and ultimately democratises digitalisation.

 

 

Posted by Derya Sousa on: April 14, 2021 07:37 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Arjun Jamnadass Chief Customer Officer| AgilePoint United Kingdom
Great read!

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Derya Sousa COO / Co-founder| Kianda Nocode Platform Ireland
Many thanks Arjun!

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Matthew Hubbard Head of Operational Excellence| TrackVia Sugar Grove, Il, USA
Insightful and very well written. Thank you, Derya.

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Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Derya
Very interesting the theme that brought to our reflection and debate
Thanks for sharing and your opinion
It should be noted: "4 Factors That Will Foster a Successful Culture of Citizen Development"

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Derya Sousa COO / Co-founder| Kianda Nocode Platform Ireland
Thank you for your comment Matt.

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Derya Sousa COO / Co-founder| Kianda Nocode Platform Ireland
Many thanks Luis.

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