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Rise of the Citizen Developer

Business managers can't get the apps they need.  Citizen developers are getting these apps built.By adopting citizen development, companies can achieve business goals faster.

Properly built business apps can streamline virtually any business process. As a result, requests for mobile apps will accelerate in companies, as business managers seek to improve operational efficiency and cut costs.

Unfortunately, demand for new mobile apps far exceeds the resources available to produce them. Companies are turning to new strategies and technology to close the gap.

Demand for Apps is Outpacing Development

App development has traditionally lived in the wheelhouse of Information Technology Departments, driven by professional developers. These gurus have years of training in application development, software development tools, low code platforms, and process automation. 

As companies recognize the value of mobility, demand for mobile applications for consumption by business users is rising dramatically. Unfortunately, the need for easy to use, reliable and secure apps outpaces experienced developers' ability to produce them.

Business managers are frustrated that they cannot achieve fast development and deployment of business applications. This obstacle to digital transformation is a problem that companies must solve to stay competitive.

Solving the App Development Skills Gap

Marketers, managers, and field workers with domain expertise are forced to navigate IT bureaucracy to request task-focused business apps. Even when granted, digital business projects often miss the mark because of unclear communication on business requirements.

Although business users know what they want applications or programs to do and how they should look or work, they can't build the apps themself. Instead, they must rely on a requirements gathering process and an experienced developer to build the app. Marketers, managers, and field workers with domain expertise are forced to navigate IT bureaucracy to request task-focused business apps. Even when granted, digital business projects often miss the mark because of unclear communication on business requirements.

This skills gap holds many enterprises back from the potential of wide enterprise mobility efficiencies. 


Over 40% of organizations report suffering from a skills gap when it comes to app development.


Companies realize that they cannot find and hire enough developers to pay to code applications they need. They're now turning to new software and a new class of mobile app developer to get the job done.

Citizen Developers Can Build Business Apps

The term "Citizen Developers" refers to business users outside of IT using development tools to solve business problems. These people may be a line of business domain expert or a business analyst. Gartner explains this new type of developer:

"a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT." 

By allowing citizen developers to build simple apps, organizations free IT personnel to focus on complex and mission critical development projects. Ignore this growing trend at your own peril.

The latest data on citizen developers

An Infographic Explaining Citizen Development


Most citizen developers are between the ages of 18 - 29. They prefer face to face communications over email or phone communications. They work on projects that serve 5-25 users and fulfill a niche need for the business.


Almost 80% of leading companies (pacesetters) are embracing new types of app developers. While not as skilled as traditional mobile developers, these people can build basic task-based apps as well as a developer who is paid to build applications.

Below is a valuable infographic from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Information Systems Program. It profiles who citizen developers are in companies, and also breaks down the economic cost of the skills gap, and the ability of citizen developers to recover those costs. 

This infographic finds:

  • Most citizen developers are between the ages of 18 - 29.
  • They prefer face to face communications over email or phone communications.
  • They work on projects that serve 5-25 users and fulfill a niche need for the business.
  • Almost 80% of leading companies (pacesetters) use citizen developers.

How Low Code Software Helps Citizen Developers

To succeed at mobile app development, these new types of app makers need easy to use app builders that produce enterprise apps. IT does not want to empower citizen developers, then learn that apps aren't secure, can't perform critical tasks or have spotty reliability.

To build enterprise apps these new users may use low-code development software or no-code development tools. These innovative solutions can create new business applications that previously could only be crafted by IT professionals.

This movement spurs the innovation of software development. IT can approve low-code software or no-code development tools that as easy to use as Microsoft Excel. Business people can solve their own problems with innovative technologies. They can even introduce new SaaS products.

How to Empower Citizen Developers to Create Mobile Apps at Your Organization: 

How-to Guide for New App Developers:

How Companies Can Create a Culture of Citizen Development

 

Understand how to identify and train new developers within your organization, including finding the best low code application software for your organization and employees.

Mobile App Development Training for Citizen Developers:
How to Build a Mobile App

This step-by-step guide for beginners offers tips and resources on how to build a mobile app. Whether you're a citizen developer at a small business or a large company, you can become an app builder.

Free Software for Citizen Developers:

Free Low Code Software for Citizen Developers

Buying software for hundreds of business employees could prove very expensive. Alpha Software helps companies by providing a free development platform for these new types of mobile app builders. Create all the apps you need and only pay when you deploy the apps (for as low as $99/month). 

Free Software for Citizen Developers:
No-Code Mobile Forms Builder for Citizen Developers

For users who simply need data collection forms - for inspections, polls, work orders, repair checklists, patient intake, etc. - Alpha Software offers a mobile forms builder. You don't need any experience with programming to build applications using this app maker.

The Power of The Citizen Developer - Guest Post by Peter Darmon, University of Alabama at Birmingham Information Systems Program, and Amy Groden, Alpha Software.

 

Further reading:

By now it’s an accepted fact that low-code and no-code software is ideal for citizen developers. This software will allow groups outside traditional IT to write powerful, fully functional applications. A growing chorus of people are now saying that low code platforms will do more in 2021 and beyond --- they’ll take over enterprise app development, and become a core part of IT. Read about citizen development platforms: Low-Code/No-Code: App Development In 2021 And Beyond

Read about Citizen Developer Governance and get a free center of excellence guide.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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