Your New Employees Are Citizen Developers

Your New Employees Are Citizen Developers

Posted on December 09, 2014 0 Comments

My son is not a traditional computer programmer. He hates math, he has no idea how to create complex algorithms, he’d much rather spend time with his friends instead of just him cranking out code on his computer, doesn’t care about the differences between object oriented and procedural programming, and will get a degree in something about as far from Computer Science as you can imagine.  Yet, he is a creative genius, and has learned how to channel that creative gene into websites and applications—i.e., my son is a citizen developer. He wouldn’t call himself that – and would likely scoff at being called anything with either the word ‘citizen’ or ‘developer’ in the description.

My son is not the only one with these attributes. His generation of Millennials has different attributes than we are used to seeing in business. But, it’s these Millennials that are being hired into business today. Let’s look at what this might mean: while a traditional HR employee might rely on corporate IT to turn HR business requirements into software assets, the HR Millennial is likely to grow impatient with the time required to work an idea through the corporate machine. Instead, the new HR hires will likely take it upon themselves to find a way to achieve their vision. Producing a website or building an application is just something they’ll do to expose their creative ideas.

The idea of the Citizen Developer is nascent – but it’s far from overblown  By the time it becomes more mainstream it almost certainly will not be called Citizen Development – but, today, that’s the terminology we use to distinguish traditional low level developers (which have all the traits that my son does not have) with developers that act a lot like my son (a la Citizen Developer – sorry son).

Software tools focused at low-level developers will not resonate with this new generation. Instead, the software they seek out will be ones that are more driven to exposing high level ideas into prototypes in a short amount of time. Building pixel perfect screens will be seen as a complete waste of time (what’s a pixel anyway?).

Just to put some more compelling stats behind this assessment check out this article by Ryan Jenkins. Some extracts included here from Ryan’s article and more:

  • Mobile Enterprise reports that 73% of Millennials will go around IT to find the solutions they need.
  • 63% expect to customize their work computers however they see fit.

The wave is coming. It doesn’t take a brainiac to see it coming – it’s more than started. The companies of today will have more and more people like my son on their payroll by the week, by the month, and by the year. And with that comes the age of the Citizen Developer.



John Goodson

John leads the Product Engineering, office of the CTO, and Technical Support teams at Progress to deliver market leading products in the cloud and on-premise. John has been a part of the executive team at Progress for over seven years.


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