How Your Organization Can Benefit From Citizen Development
The digital era has spawned a sharing economy in which a broad range of participants contribute to the community’s greater benefit. Wikipedia is a prime example: an online encyclopedia created and maintained by a network of non-experts, resulting in a knowledge repository often more usable and accurate than reference works produced by professionals. Similarly, nonprofessional citizen scientists help monitor endangered species, identify new celestial bodies, and advance emerging technologies.
An analogous trend has taken shape in application development: the emergence of “citizen developers” in businesses across industries. With citizen development, business users – who aren’t formally trained in writing software – use no-code software development tools to create, deploy and continually improve applications. The resulting applications increase productivity, speed up business operations, and enhance customer service.
Citizen development represents the democratization of application development. It leverages the insights and innovation already embedded throughout your workforce. The trend is expected to accelerate as no-code tools shift a growing portion of development from scarce, high-cost professional developers to users who directly benefit from the software they create. In fact, Gartner says “the future of apps must include citizen development” and reports that 61% of companies are implementing or have plans for this approach.
No-Code Citizen Development for Success
Want to unleash the power of citizen developers in your organization? Here are four ways no-code enabled citizen development can benefit your business today:
1. Drive user engagement and productivity.
Employees in your lines of business (LoBs) understand the workflows they manage every day. They know the kinds of improvements that will eliminate redundant process steps and increase productivity.
In many businesses, however, even simple workflow improvements face months of delay while LoBs wait for development teams to respond to requests for changes. A better approach is to empower employees to create and enhance their own applications.
Enabling such citizen development not only allows employees to accelerate processes, it also makes them better engaged in their work. And productivity for highly engaged teams is 14% higher than for teams with low engagement, according to Gallup.
Such engagement becomes self-sustaining. Citizen developers can share their development knowledge with others, fostering a culture of innovation and continual improvement across your enterprise.
2. Reduce IT costs and workloads while improving IT governance.
As more companies move to digitize more processes, IT faces an escalating backlog of application-modernization and process-optimization projects. Citizen developers can alleviate traditional development teams from having to do less-complex, workflow-specific application creation. That way, professional development teams can focus on coding enterprise-wide, mission-critical software.
In addition, citizen development can help reduce cost and security issues related to “shadow IT.” Shadow IT occurs when LoBs go around corporate policies to purchase their own software. Unapproved software can result in tremendous, and hidden, costs because that software doesn’t benefit from economies of scale. Shadow IT can also introduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities that are often hidden from your IT managers. By empowering citizen developers with approved no-code tools, IT departments can substantially reduce shadow IT.
3. Improve customer experiences and satisfaction.
Many internal corporate activities – from completing online forms to managing workflows – extend to customer-facing processes. Medical practices need to serve customers through telehealth. Schools and universities must digitally expand programs across and off campus. Government agencies increasingly deliver citizen services online. Global businesses integrate processes from back office to consumer, requiring digitization of end-to-end process chains.
Many of these efforts center around delivering superior customer experiences. Citizen development can play a vital role in achieving that objective. User-developed applications can enable back-office employees to carry out processes more efficiently, equip frontline workers to serve customers more responsively, and empower customers with self-service portals, web applications and workflow solutions that make interacting with your brand efficient and satisfying.
4. Accelerate and optimize business operations.
Citizen development isn’t just another way to create applications. It’s also a new way to run your business. No-code development tools enable subject-matter experts in finance, HR, project management, product development, sales, marketing, customer service, facilities management, and other functions to work smarter and faster. Using effective no-code tools, citizen developers can help your company:
Professional developers are valuable but costly. By freeing up IT experts to focus on high availability, mission-critical applications, citizen developers help your organization save money.
Automate for efficiency
No-code tools allow citizen developers to create applications that streamline and even automate repetitive but business-critical processes. Results include reduced errors, faster operations, and more time to focus on strategic goals.
Respond nimbly to changing needs
Traditional development teams can’t keep pace with market changes. Citizen developers can respond fast to keep your business ahead of the competition.
Drive continual improvement
Because of high costs associated with traditional development, many companies believe they need to first achieve return on investment (ROI) before spending on enhancements. Citizen developers can iteratively fine-tune applications and processes for constant, incremental improvements.
Foster a culture of innovation
With software creation limited to traditional development teams, your company isn’t benefiting from the creativity spread throughout your enterprise. Citizen developers empowered with no-code tools become more innovative and share their innovative spirit with peers.
Achieve digital transformation
Digital transformation has become a goal of companies across industries. Yet only 30% of transformation efforts realize their objectives, says Boston Consulting Group – often because of project complexity and organizational inertia. Citizen development simplifies application creation and promotes change throughout the enterprise. The result is tangible progress toward transformation.
The keys to success with citizen development are twofold. First is to identify the most effective no-code tools that will power your application development efforts. Second is to encourage citizen developers throughout your teams. These actions will equip your business to benefit from the growing trend that is citizen development.