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Are citizen developers slated to outnumber professional coders? Let’s find out.

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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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Gartner made a significant prediction at the virtual symposium for CIOs and IT leaders. By 2023, there will be at least four times as many active citizen developers at large businesses as professional developers.

For those who don’t know, a citizen developer creates software without receiving formal training in software development by leveraging no-code platforms and analytics tools to automate processes for themselves and their teams.

What is causing this shift in application development?

Essentially citizen developers are business users whose productivity is hampered by laborious, disjointed processes; as a result, they are more than prepared to improve routine operations through no-code development. They can create software to automate manual operations. They can design optimized workflows (automation sequences) by selecting from a list of pre-configured stages and placing them in a logical flow using the drag and drop feature of no-code platforms.

In a survey done by Forrester, 64% of business and tech leaders indicated that process automation is crucial to corporate strategy, supporting digital transformation and customer experience.

From a single no-code platform, citizen developers can build and customize administrative, data-tracking, and reporting tools. Typically, there are separate apps spread across many departments and go unnoticed by IT teams for each of these characteristics. IT teams may quickly monitor and maintain apps by using a single no-code platform to configure all of the applications.

Because of these reasons, a majority of businesses today rely on citizen developers to produce enterprise business software or applications specific to marketing, sales, HR, or other critical functions. These developers typically report to the IT department, and skilled/professional developers supervise their work to ensure the final product/outcome matches the standards.

Moreover, organizations are constantly pushing themselves to build operational and strategic agility for:

• Democratizing application development.
• Overcoming the lack of IT talent.
• Managing modest adjustments well.
• Implementing quick innovation cycles.
• Evaluating the risk and developing mitigation techniques.
• Encouraging citizen developers to creatively use technology and build custom applications with no-code platforms.
• Managing business turbulence brought on by changes in market dynamics, pressure from competitors, and COVID-19-like natural disasters

On the other hand, hyperautomation is on the rise, helping firms make it possible for non-programmers to create complex software. Most of the time, employers do not require prior software development training, although there are specific qualifications for this position.

Things to keep in mind while choosing non-programmers

• Business users who are or have been involved in time-consuming manual processes are known as citizen developers. Therefore, a person with practical experience working with paper-based processes and knowledge of the associated pain spots is the ideal candidate for citizen development.

• Although no technical knowledge is necessary to use no-code platforms, users must have a strong understanding of business logic to construct apps visually. As a result, this may be the second factor to consider when selecting your citizen developer.

• Because citizen development is carried out through a governance model and is not autocratic, an ideal candidate should also have a collaborative approach.

• Citizen developers are much more than just lone contributors. No-code development is not their primary responsibility; they must balance various tasks. Time management is thus yet another trait of a successful citizen developer.

• Business technologists or skilled, full-time developers or coders brought into departments like operations, finance, accounting, or marketing are ideal candidates for citizen development.

Citizen Developers are breaking stereotypes

To automate business processes and data integration, Gartner firmly believes that businesses must collaborate with experts outside of IT. This essentially ends reliance on software development teams.

Additionally, it stated that businesses should reject the idea that the work of citizen developers is easy and non-critical. Most citizen developers actively work on developing new features, user interfaces, and algorithms.

Hyperautomation has played a key role in the success of citizen developers

Gartner defines hyper-automation as a business-driven, focused approach that businesses need to identify, enhance, and automate their enterprise processes rapidly. Because hyperautomation has so much potential and entails many possibilities, relying solely on traditional coders and IT teams will never produce the desired results. Enterprises have quickly realized this and have been proactively training more employees to become citizen developers.

Organizations are no more holding themselves back from realizing enterprise-wide process management and workflow automation. As most of them are adopting a hybrid workforce model, it becomes imperative to encourage non-technical employees toward citizen development and reduce the burden of IT teams already stressed out with simple troubleshooting.

Enterprises are actively investing in citizen developers to democratize and pace up innovation – enabling UI/UX designers, business analysts, and marketers to build priority-specific applications without writing a single line of code. They are trying to nurture code-agnostic development teams with the help of no-code platforms.

Just like the future of coding is no coding, the end of automation is no-code automation. Organizations are stretching themselves to achieve end-to-end automation while rooting for a hybrid workforce model (where the availability of IT resources will always be a matter of concern). Citizen development is evolving and providing a fantastic opportunity for business and IT leaders to fulfil their primary strategic goals, the most significant of which is enterprise-wide automation.

The rise of citizen developers aligns with the rise of digital-first organizations

Organizations are going full throttle in digitization by investing heavily in low-code and no-code tools to build various applications. They are building teams, for example, a team of citizen developers, that rely on agile methods to integrate critical operating units with the IT organization, augmented by a set of new digital roles that are helping in value creation. The idea behind establishing such teams is to promote innovation and value generation by focusing on:

• Using analytics to assess operations and performance before taking action based on the findings.

• Using agile principles to test and deploy new hardware and software.

• Building and delivering new digital processes and solutions for field operations along with back-office processes (that can be standardized and scaled across businesses).

There are a lot of examples and trends that indicate the growing popularity of citizen developers. Can they outnumber traditional developers? It doesn’t seem a remote possibility anymore and is as accurate as it can get.

Posted by Vivek Goel on: August 12, 2022 02:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
I hope there are low-code/no-code options that offer more visual support for managing business rules. I've been dabbling with PowerApps and found that the visual (i.e., drag and drop) was limited to the user interface. For anything outside the box, you have to start using hand-coded functions to implement the desired functionality.

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Ibrahim Chaaban Mishawaka, In, USA
What I find most interesting about the citizen developers movement, if I may call it that, is the number of tools and companies that have recently emerged because of it. I have sampled many different no-code platforms. Each offers a different set of tools to address a specific group of opportunities that individuals might like to pursue. Unfortunately, no one tool can address all your opportunities. So a citizen developer might use one tool to build a financial app, while another in the same organization might build a registration or schedule management app with a different tool. Not sure if this will help organizations in the long run.

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Vivek Goel Vice President - Marketing and Evangelism| Quixy India
Ibrahim, agreed that the no-code landscape is very broad. Still, there are general-purpose automation tools that can handle most workflow automation and app development needs in an organization. Having said that, you cannot just have one platform for all needs, and that is where seamless integration between these systems becomes very critical.

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Vivek Goel Vice President - Marketing and Evangelism| Quixy India
Stephane, great point. Good UX and advanced no-code capability are critical in adopting these no-code platforms by business users.

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Danny Seow Tokyo, Japan
Citizen development will continue to grow, much like technology itself.

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