According to QuickBase CEO, Allison Mnookin, “The low-code market has finally arrived.” Citizen development is helping enterprises slash IT backlogs and is empowering business users to build self-service solutions. When it comes to customizing and developing applications, it is often a catch-22. It can be difficult to get feedback without a prototype, yet you don’t want to develop a mockup until you understand exactly what the requirements are.

Enter low-code and no-code platforms. Through the use of visual, rapid development platforms, virtually anyone can quickly develop apps with little-to-no hand coding. This is why citizen developers, even those without a development background, are now able to drive enterprise innovation and bridge the IT skills gap. This is a significant development when you consider just how much this movement can help drive enterprise innovation.

What are citizen developers?

Many organizations have what is called the shadow IT phenomenon – this is where technology solutions are being built without formal company approval. Through low-code platforms, citizen developers are building homegrown apps that fit the specific needs of their job or department. They no longer need want to wait on growing IT development backlogs in order to meet business challenges.

Is Low-code the New Normal?

Imagine a platform that allows non-technical citizen developers to create and alter business applications. In the enterprise environment, this can be used to create highly customized apps tailored to business needs and requirements. Is this similar to no-code? Well, low-code and no-code platforms are similar in the fact that they allow users to create custom applications, but no-code platforms require zero code from the creator and are more visual in nature.

Many low-code platforms such as those offered by QuickBase and Appian boast citizen developers that have no coding experience but this is often the exception. However, no-code platforms often have citizen developers that have built hundreds of business applications without a single line of code written. When help is needed, many platforms offer technical resources to address questions.

Powerful applications

Upon initial consideration, it may seem that low-code platforms would not enable applications to do more than basic tasks. How is it possible for citizen developers, without coding backgrounds, to build anything else? Well, it is quite possible to build customized and powerful applications from mobile apps, to approval workflows, to tracking governance, risk, and compliance activities.

What makes this form of innovation even more remarkable is that organizations can offload costly development efforts from the IT department. All you need is a creative idea, time for development, and collaboration. What does this mean for enterprise businesses? Citizen developers help to:

  • Create useful and relevant applications
  • Save time
  • Use resources more efficiently
  • Cut costs for employee training

Killing the backlog

Part of the reason behind the rise of the citizen developer is enterprise companies are tasked with doing more with less. When you take a look at IT departments, many of them are so backlogged with projects that it just wouldn’t make economic sense to ask them to divert their efforts to fixing Excel spreadsheets. You want them to drive new innovations instead.

As a result, the best citizen developers are those who interact with business technologies on a daily basis. These are the people who understand how the applications work and what improvements need to be made. Citizen development is also about getting your staff to add new competencies. Creating applications through no-code platforms empowers your people learn and grow.

Eliminating business challenges

Through point-and-click wizards, objects, workflows, and application data models, more employees can be engaged through the entire application build process.

Samsung conducted a survey of senior IT leaders that stated 90 percent of companies look to internal applications to help speed up business practices and guide critical decisions. No-code platforms allow citizen developers to build high-quality internal apps with little risk. Moreover, low-code apps can grow to become large systems taken over by the IT staff. So, instead of working around IT, the business gets to partner with IT.

Through low-code platforms, citizen developers will continue to be empowered. This means that many of these platforms will become increasingly robust to meet the demand. As a result, enterprise innovation can more quickly meet the needs of its business users, thereby, ultimately serving its client base.