It’s been about a year since we covered how the rise of the consumerization of IT had extended beyond cloud services and devices to application development and the advent of the Citizen Developer from rarity to mainstream. The momentum of citizen developers in the enterprise has only increased in the past year. And the move is proving to provide much needed faster time to market for enterprise apps.
According to the “QuickBase annual State of Citizen Development Report,” a survey completed this summer of 153 North American enterprises that develop and use custom business applications, the need to rapidly develop new apps is one of the leading reasons why non-developers in business roles are rolling up their sleeves and developing some of the apps their companies need.
As readers of DevOps.com are aware, app backlogs are a big concern. Reportedly, many organizations have app backlogs that range from weeks to months to years. Rather than wait for an IT department that is struggling to meet—or even catch up with—app demand (largely fueled by the thirst for mobile apps), they are turning to low-code and no-code development platforms that enable anyone to develop without understanding a formal language.
How do enterprises support citizen development? They do it mostly by providing employees a place to build apps in cloud-based, low-code platforms. Some of the highlights from the QuickBase report include:
- Developing a custom application using traditional development methods requires more than two months on average for 67 percent and more than six months for 31 percent of application builders.
- Citizen development platforms are seen as capable of developing 26 different custom applications for a variety of top use cases including asset management, project management, IT help desk, inventory management, contact management, workforce management, service management, compliance management, contract management and facilities management.
- Organizations consider the top benefit of no-code citizen development to be the ability to maintain and update applications faster than the more than two months required by 35 percent of traditional developers.
The acceleration of app development and the fact that citizen developers help to move app ideas from the bottom up in an organization are why many IT leaders say citizen development is a catalyst of the innovation enterprises need. As Michael Beckley, CTO of Appian relayed to associate Tony Bradley in his story, “Citizen Developers Can Benefit an Organization“: “The best-designed products have always been built with the needs of the user from the outset. Who better than citizen developers to design software that enables organizations to transform customer experiences, launch compelling new products and manage risk efficiently? Citizen developers are motivated by the opportunity to create a new reality, not merely accepting the workplace as they found it.
“Citizen developers are most successful when supported by IT,” Beckley continued. “One critical area where IT can help is in promoting reuse and modularity in the applications and business processes that citizen developers build.”
That’s the key to success, going forward, in my view: The organizations that succeed with citizen development will be those that wholeheartedly embrace the movement and cultivate it, with IT’s help and guidance.
In the QuickBase survey, among the broad population of app developers surveyed, the majority reported being able to deliver their apps in less than a month. Compare that to traditional IT developers alone, 67 percent of whom reported it takes more than two months to build an app and 31 percent reported more than six months. This is probably why 80 percent of respondents said that development speed was one of the top reasons for embracing citizen developers: The QuickBase survey found that 42 percent of their users are able to build apps at twice the speed of traditional development.
With results like that, it’s just a matter of time before every large organization embraces citizen developers to clear app backlogs and innovate more rapidly.