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By enabling citizen developers, IT can concentrate on higher value work and engage more effectively with the business.
In my previous blog post, I mentioned the priesthood mentality that has sometimes crept into the world of IT. To some extent, it’s what happens to any group of experts, especially when the rest of the world doesn’t have their particular skills or knowledge. For IT, the era of expertise exclusivity is long past. Renegade business types bought PCs and declared independence from central computing, Excel gave them do-it-yourself application functionality, and consumerization in the form of mobile devices and apps has pretty much finished deflating any sense of control that IT once possessed.
Yet IT remains a critical function. The question now is, “What next?” Forward looking IT organizations are asking how they can engage more effectively with the entire business to increase their technology leverage. They have realized that advantage now comes not from a ‘traditional’ bits and bytes skill set alone, but from making use of the combined business and tech awareness of everyone.
Having finally earned C-level status, CIOs and CTOs want to continue providing technology leadership – and they should. But they must do so by harnessing the acumen of their entire staff. This is reflected in the growing role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). In many cases, she drives the technology agenda and the technology spend. This makes sense in today’s new workforce, where people are more adept at adopting and employing technology and where there is less of a clearly defined boundary between developers and non-developers.
Recently, I was speaking to an enterprise architect at a leading technology company who said, “We want IT to get out of the way. ” I don’t think he meant to disparage the role of IT. His point was that they want to enable their users and move away from the IT ticketing concept, where you open up a work request when you need to get something done, and then wait. He wanted to focus his IT and developer resources on higher value work.
Today's workforce is technologically adept enough to handle some aspects of app dev
Think about the number of apps that non-IT types are building with Microsoft Excel, Access; apps that are built around BI and analytics tools; apps that are built using Sharepoint, Wiki’s, etc.; or apps that are built with a high level 4GL tools. Those apps are out there already in large numbers.
This illustrates the real problem: if you don’t have a strategy, you’ll end up with a “Shadow IT” problem, with poor control, problematic security, and unpredictable costs. And IT will ultimately be stuck holding the bag.
Just opening the floodgates to citizen developers (Gartner once predicted they could soon handle a quarter of all application development) is probably not the right answer.
A better approach is to leverage cloud technologies and transition toward more citizen participation via the development organization. Pick a high-productivity PaaS solution and have your developers learn the best way to use it to speed your more traditional development efforts. Then, determine what aspects of the platform make sense to expose to technical business user types; specific disciplines and roles, such as marketing analyst, sales operations, financial analyst, and so on, and make the platform available to these citizen developer types. Train them and manage their efforts to help them become more productive. And do so in a way that will not exacerbate your Shadow IT challenge.
Above all, this will help ensure that you fully capture and encourage the business-informed creativity of this new class of participant in the overall mission of IT.
For more on how IT can enable citizen development to grow your application development business, download my latest whitepaper, “9 Essentials to Create Amazing Applications Faster.”
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Mark Troester is the Vice President of Solutions Marketing, Digital Transformation at Progress. Mark has extensive experience in bringing application development and data integration products to market. Mark previously led product marketing efforts at Sonatype, SAS and Progress DataDirect. Before moving into marketing, Mark worked as a developer and developer manager for start-ups and enterprises alike.
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