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IT: Embrace Citizen Developers, Citizen Developer Tools

Low-code development tools and rapid mobile app development (RMAD) have given people with little technical expertise the ability to write powerful mobile apps. That’s led to an explosion of mobile apps in the enterprise written outside of IT’s control by so-called “citizen developers.”

Gartner estimates that by 2018 more than half of all B2E mobile apps won’t be built by IT or by traditional developers – instead, they’ll be written by enterprise business analysts and citizen developers using citizen developer tools.

That puts IT in a quandary. Professional developers have long been tasked with creating new business applications and enforcing corporate technology standards. Naturally, the impulse in IT departments is to squash the citizen developer movement. They consider business users who create apps written outside of IT control are low-quality and rogue.

But a Computerworld article, “How CIOs cope when mobile app development goes rogue,” shows that rather than fight against citizen developers, IT should embrace them. The article builds a case for why environments sanction by corporate IT can digitally transform companies. The article also clearly explains that business users should, in turn, use approved citizen development tools and take advantage of the help IT staff can offer.

Embracing citizen developers and low-code mobile app development

"CIOs need to embrace this because it's potentially a competitive advantage,” Gartner analyst Katherine Lord told the magazine. “CIOs need to stop seeing it as a threat and shift control. It's OK to empower the business.”

Gartner analyst Jason Wong agreed, but added that IT has a role to play as well. "Business units wanting to build apps can be a positive thing, because it shows that organizations are forward-thinking and using mobile to innovate and transform their business,” he said. “But IT has to be involved."

The magazine points to one CIO who has embraced the citizen developer movement, Isaac Sacolick, global CIO and managing director at Greenwich Associates, which offers market intelligence and advisory services for the financial industry. Computerworld notes, “Sacolick says CIOs should consider deploying a low-code mobile app development platform, creating standard APIs into backend systems for would-be programmers to use, and identifying and establishing agreements with external development partners as needed.”

That way, IT still retains control over app development but empowers business units to write their own using approved app development tools built for citizen developers. Along those lines, Wong says, “IT is going to need to put in place an architecture and set of standards and policies and governance that help facilitate decentralization and democratic mobile app development without being a bottleneck.”

Ken Russo, former director of enterprise architecture at Independence Blue Cross took this approach when he was at Blue Cross, the magazine says, and it worked well.

"You build relationships and the organization builds confidence in you," he told the magazine. "After four years of doing this, we've got a really good reputation, so when there's a need in the mobile space, they know to come to us."

Empowering citizen developers with citizen developer tools.


Download a new white paper with the latest industry data, techniques and success stories on "Empowering Citizen Developers."

Read why citizen developer governance is critical and how IT departments can set up a citizen development center of excellence.

“By 2020, the average medium to large enterprise will have adopted at least three rapid, high productivity development products supporting enterprise and citizen development.” - Gartner Market Guide for Rapid Application Development Tools ,

“By 2020, at least 70% of large enterprises will have established successful citizen development policies, up from 20% in 2010.”  - Gartner  Market Guide for Rapid Application Development Tools

Many business and IT leaders believe citizen developers combined with no-code or low-code applications is the future of software development. For extensive industry and analysts research statistics about the mobile app explosion in enterprises, the overwhelming demand on IT for business apps, and how companies are empowering citizen developers to eliminate backlogs, download the white paper "Citizen Developers: Mobile and Web App Development."

Alpha Anywhere is one of the most highly rated RMAD platforms. In fact, InfoWorld named it a top mobile app development leader. The software includes the latest mobile ap features and meets requirements set by most enterprise IT departments. Because it enables business users to build apps, and also allows software developers to add code to those apps at will, the software is an ideal fit for citizen development programs. Alpha Anywhere award-winning products, including the Developer Edition, Application Server for IIS, Application Server, and runtime environment sanctioned by IT. Alpha Anywhere Logo-1

Read why Alpha Anywhere is an ideal low code platform to empower citizen developers.

Learn how to become a citizen developer.

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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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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.