Low-code insights by Flowfactory

The Rise of the Citizen Developer

[fa icon="calendar"] 31/01/17 08:00 / by Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller



Want to build your development dream team? Look beyond the IT department. The fifth wall of your dev group may be sitting in the business teams as a "citizen developer." Gartner describes this as “a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others within the company as sanctioned by corporate IT.”


A combination of agile process and low code platform access make these citizen developers a welcome ally in the need for rapid development of business-specific applications.


Why not? Modern IT departments include all kinds of "outsiders" these days - all those people who have not spent the last 20 years doing traditional waterfall software development in large teams focused on big projects. Perhaps the most common newcomer is the hacker - the person who can quickly build software and find interesting ways to hack together code. These people find the process of problem solving exciting and interesting and may look at challenges in multiple ways, finding several potential solutions.

Hackers are great to have for thorny challenges that cross functions and databases. Give them a destination and let them loose to wander, experiment and invent new approaches.


On the other hand, citizen developers address the mirror of this challenge: Rapid ideation built on business immersion.


These citizen developers are people outside the IT department who use low code platforms to design and build business specific applications. These apps live on a platform layer and require the team to have a very intimate knowledge of the customer, business process or market pressure. In these cases, the knowledge of the customer and market is more valuable than deep coding experience.

Citizen development is not new. This infographic from TrackVia shows how highly valued these people are - half of them have been promoted ahead of their peers, for example. The key for encouraging them to emerge and to arm them for success is a low-code platform that lets them think in business terms while they create enterprise grade applications.


IT departments can set up low-code platforms that lets these citizen developers work alone or in collaboration with IT architects to build everything from pilots to demos to market-ready, enterprise applications.


These kinds of roles are more than just extra hands. They help IT departments prove that software development is not a commodity.


Unfortunately, because software is getting easier and easier to develop, some executives believe that it is also becoming more and more difficult for a business to differentiate itself based on its software. Since software is so easy to develop, the belief goes, then it is easy for a competitor to copy that software and remove a company's competitive advantage. The vast quantity of free or very cheap apps on Google and Apple stores compounds this negative perception.

We know better. Great software architects and developers are more like artists than soybean farmers. They are passionate about their craft and live to create elegant, functional software.


Agile give great software teams the ability to quickly get to market with new features and customer-centric services - a huge competitive advantage.


Well designed software allows a team to more easily adapt their changes to market conditions and exploit future opportunities. Low-code now expands this ability to move quickly and flexibly. Plus, by its nature, it allows citizen developers in business functions to dream big, experiment alongside the more expert IT teams, and take on work that would otherwise hold up the IT team from more complex projects.

Certainly, innovation must happen in every aspect of the IT organization - culture, strategy, people, process and even technology. The problems that software developers will be solving in the next few years surely must exceed our understanding of what is possible today.

Software makes a huge difference for a company's competitive position and market value. Nearly every customer and internal function is data driven. The low-code application platform as a service (aPaaS) creates new opportunities for an entire organization to think big together - and rapidly test ideas in market.


Download our free low-code whitepaper (in Swedish). A guide to technology that can dramatically increases the speed of application development and at the same time enables harmonization of the application portfolio.


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Topics: empower ideas, creative, low-code, app development, CEO, CIO, Awareness

Stephanie Miller

Written by Stephanie Miller

Stephanie (SAM) Miller is a marketing automation, digital marketing and eCRM expert with a long history in enterprise technology professional services, also now applying this experience to the food tech sector. Fascinating parallels between the two industries - and a lot of crossover applications.

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