'Citizen Developer' Movement Transforming in Enterprise, Report Says

Facing huge demand for developers -- especially for mobile apps -- enterprises are turning to a variety of solutions, including outsourcing and relying on in-house "citizen developers" to use low-code or no-code tools to supplement professional coders, a movement undergoing change, according to a new report.

The DIY approach isn't new -- ADTmag's John K. Waters reported more than three years ago that a Gartner Inc. analyst predicted "citizen developer activities will accelerate."

And accelerate they have, with tools popping up all over for rapid app development for general and niche deployments.

And along with acceleration, the movement is evolving, according to a new report from Intuit QuickBase, which sells a low-code platform aimed at citizen development. Intuit surveyed more than 140 of its customers at a recent conference to learn how the role is changing.

The "State of Citizen Development Report" survey revealed "a new class of application developers" who weren't coding experts gaining more efficiency and speed, but rather less-skilled enterprise staffers teaming up with IT pros to crank out apps faster.

"Only 8 percent of respondents had traditional coding skills (Java, .NET, C++, Ruby and so on), yet, 68 percent considered developing apps part of their day job," Intuit said today in a blog post about the report.

But they aren't doing that part of their day job alone, as "the majority (75 percent) of IT builders indicated that they developed over three quarters of the applications and leave the last mile to their non-coder citizen developer colleagues. It's the prototyping process between IT and the business that represents the paradigm shift."

That paradigm shift is said to speed up app delivery, as 62 percent of respondents reported getting projects completed in less than two weeks. Citizen developers "partner deeply with IT, who oversee the application architecture, maintain account governance standards and continue to have transparency through the life of the application," Intuit said.

Other highlights of the survey reported by Intuit include:

  • 96 percent of respondents identified themselves as app builders, but only 21 percent identified themselves as working in traditional IT.
  • 28 percent of citizen developers are collaborating with both the line-of-business and IT when building apps, indicating increasingly blurred lines and unprecedented collaboration.
  • 71 percent of all citizen developers have increased their application delivery speeds by at least 50 percent.

Although Intuit surveyed users more likely to be using its own QuickBase, ADTmag has reported on many other tools and solutions in use by the citizen developer movement, such as an IBM/Ionic Creator partnership, Telerik, (another user of Ionic) and Eve.

All these efforts are geared toward the changing face of today's enterprise application landscape, the Intuit report concluded.

"IT is now faced with managing an ever-broadening spectrum of applications," Intuit said. "Once focused primarily on deploying and maintaining mission-critical applications (for example, ERP systems, CRM systems and Web sites), modern IT departments now need to also focus on digital workplace applications that focus on employee productivity or operational efficiency (for example, ticketing, project management, budgeting apps and customer portals) which are increasingly being requested from IT by internal stakeholders."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.