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How the rise of the 'citizen developer' is driving an internal app revolution

Stephen McNulty, Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Progress | June 24, 2015
An opportunity now exists for the CIO to marry the right type of 'citizen developer' within their organisation with a centralised technology platform, effectively empowering the business to support the IT team in building quality internal apps, fast and without risk. Stephen McNulty shares with us how to do so.

According to Evans Data, the worldwide developer populations is set to top 25 million by 2020 with the strongest growth in Asia Pacific. And yet, we are seeing demand outstripping supply -- a clear indication of the need for the evolution we're witnessing.

The right type of citizen developer
Many high-performing businesses are seizing on the 'Citizen Developer' trend to spur innovation at the front end and effectively widen the development team resource pool. Coined by Gartner, the term relates to users who create new business apps for consumption by others using development and runtime environments, but who do not have traditional developer training or in-depth knowledge of coding. Today, end users can build departmental, enterprise and even public applications using shared services, rapid application development tools,  cloud computing services or platforms as a service (PaaS).

Smart organisations are empowering their business analysts to fulfil this role. Responsible for analysing an organisation or business domain, documenting its business processes or systems and assessing the business model and its integration with technology, simple Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a logical extension of the business analyst's job.

Interestingly, a recent study by McKinsey on software development performance revealed that the top-quartile companies benefited from a 70 percent shorter time to market for new software products and features, and were three times more productive in doing so as compared to companies in the bottom quartile.

Using the RAD tools, business analysts have the ability to build quick productivity-based apps that solve business problems, where typically 80% of the code is developed through drag and drop options negating the need for in-depth development skills. Point-and-click wizards walk business users through the definition of the application's data model, objects, workflows and more. The right RAD tools also feature templates that enable users to customise their apps by using standard APIs and JavaScript to tailor to each unique requirement.

To achieve rapid application development at scale, the important thing is to ensure business users and developers alike work from one centralised application development platform -- one that is ease to use, easy to deploy and accessible anytime, anywhere. This ensures the CIO office retains control of all development projects and that the core development team can manage the data and back-end integration needed to put newly created apps into production. 

With a technology platform sanctioned by corporate IT, the CIO is able to empower the business to deliver internal apps without risk. In doing so, the business will be better equipped to use its resource, including citizen developers, to meet changing market and business requirements for apps.


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