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Citizen Development Is the Future of IT. Here’s How to Manage It.

Citizen development continues to gain momentum within organizations.For IT to be effective, it needs to embrace citizen developers working in business units. Fighting rather than supporting them will only hurt IT and the overall enterprise. So concludes a Gartner report, “The Future of Apps Must Include Citizen Development.”

The report pulls no punches about how vital citizen developers are to organizations and to IT’s role in them. It says: “Application leaders cannot ignore or block business-unit-led IT and particularly citizen development. Doing so will further diminish the value of the IT organization in the eyes of the business. In fact, the modern digital workplace requires cultivating citizen IT in order to maximize digital dexterity.”

What’s driving the citizen development movement? The ever-growing need for well-written business applications and the inability of IT to deliver them on its own. The report says, “In a Gartner survey on business unit IT, 46% of respondents stated that increase for business-led IT spend was due to increased development of software, applications or databases. In another Gartner survey on citizen development, 41% of respondents have active citizen development initiatives and 20% of those that don’t are either evaluating or plan to start citizen development initiatives.”


41% of respondents have active citizen development initiatives and 20% of those that don’t are either evaluating or plan to start citizen development initiatives.


The report doesn’t just point to the importance of citizen developers for enterprises. It also offers recommendations for the ways in which IT can best guide and optimize how they work and fit into overall IT.

A long-standing IT issue has been shadow IT, in which departments and citizen developers go off on their own in ways that can harm an enterprise’s overall digital strategy. They may develop apps that work outside the normal workflow or don’t integrate with enterprise data and resources. Or they may include security holes. So the report recommends that companies, “Mitigate shadow IT risks by working with business unit leaders to enlist citizen developers to establish trust and define safe activity zones.”

That will help reduce or eliminate shadow IT. But it still won’t go far enough to ensure that the apps citizen developers write are of the highest quality and follow enterprise-wide standards. So the report says companies should “Enable self-governing citizen development practices by fostering a community of practice (CoP) across business units and with IT.”

Even all that isn’t enough, though, the report says. Citizen developers may not be using the most effective tools, which means the apps they write can be problematic. So the report recommends enterprises should, “Improve outcomes for citizen-developed apps by joint business and IT selection of the right tools and enabling technologies.”

Choosing the Best Tools for Citizen Developers

Alpha TransForm is ideal for enterprises looking to get the most out of citizen developers. Alpha TransForm helps business users craft online or offline mobile apps in minutes that utilize the latest mobile features (camera, GPS, etc.) for fast, accurate data capture. Using Alpha TransForm, citizen developers can mobilize business processes, digitize paper forms and more. Learn more about Alpha TransForm and try it free for 30 days

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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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