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In app dev, the same old, same old just won’t do. The velocity of change and the number of drivers for change means it is critical, emergency-critical, to take a new look at everything you do.
We have been doing just that for the past three years at Progress and the path is clear. IT is in crisis, with more responsibilities than ever and far too few resources. Departments can’t possibly keep up with demands from traditional customers let alone new customers aligned closely with the needs of end users. Everyone wants and expects new, adaptive, and high function to be the norm. To achieve that, IT can’t begin to deliver while doing things the old way.
Citizen developers are proposed as part of the solution; but who are they, and how can they help IT?
Think of them as one rung up the ladder from power users. They understand business and they grasp the essential ideas of IT. They just need help with low-code and no-code development options. With a little help from IT, they can move right into a cycle of development, deployment and continuous upgrades that can help organizations break free of backlogs and begin to fully address critical needs.
Of course, citizen developers won’t be able to solve all the problems. There’s still plenty of traditional work for developers to tackle and will be for as far into the future as anyone can see. The key is to guide the citizen developer into a constructive role.
Citizen developers need to become part of the spectrum of IT activities. In the name of efficiency, IT already recognizes many different roles. For instance, some developers specialize in front end, user interface, and web technologies while back-end developers focus on business logic that is exposed via APIs. Similarly DBAs or data architects immerse themselves in concerns related the stewardship, management, and use of data. Citizen developers shouldn't be treated as if they are on a separate island. Instead, they should be encouraged to leverage their understanding of the business to contribute to development efforts – defining the business model and defining the business logic. Then developers can augment the app with functionality that is more sophisticated.
Developers can also leverage a lot of the same tools and techniques that empower citizen developers. Today’s business application developers can deliver more critical apps, faster using low-code and agile techniques.
In fact, low-code development platforms are gaining momentum. Developers and IT organizations can boost their credibility and their ability to deliver by getting on board. By leading and setting the pace, in fact, IT and individual developers will position themselves and their organizations in the fast lane of a new, more mobile and ever-more connected world.
So what should you do? Should you jump straight to enabling the citizen developer? A better approach is to leverage cloud technologies and transition to them via the development organization. Pick a high-productivity PaaS solution and let your developers use it. Learn the best way to use it and accelerate your more traditional development efforts.
Determine what aspects of the platform make sense to expose to your technically savvy business user -- the potential citizen developers -- and make the platform available to them. This could be a marketing analyst, a financial analyst or someone in sales operations, Train this cadre and manage their efforts so that you make them more productive and so that you can have visibility and control over their direction and output.
This approach will help ensure that the citizen developer solves problems for the organization rather than just multiplying responsibilities that IT will ultimately need to handle.
Mark Troester is the Vice President of Strategy at Progress. He guides the strategic go-to-market efforts for the Progress cognitive-first strategy. Mark has extensive experience in bringing application development and big data products to market. Previously, he led product marketing efforts at Sonatype, SAS and Progress DataDirect. Before these positions, Mark worked as a developer and developer manager for start-ups and enterprises alike. You can find him on LinkedIn or @mtroester on Twitter.
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