Why IT Should Embrace Citizen Developers and Citizen Developer Tools

Learn how embracing citizen developers and citizen development tools can transform your business.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. They’ve long been tasked with enforcing enterprise-wide technology standards, so the impulse of many in IT is to squash the citizen developer movement. They consider apps written outside of their control as app development gone 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. And citizen developers should, in turn, use the citizen developer tools and help IT 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 applications 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 "Democratizing App Development by Empowering Citizen Developers."

“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, September 2016 

“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, September 2016

To read why many people believe citizen developers and rapid mobile app development tools are the future of mobile, click here. 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: The Democratization of 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. Read why Alpha Anywhere is an idea development tool to empower citizen developers.
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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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