The shortage of software developers and IT professionals in general is forcing companies to turn to “citizen developers” within their organizations to create business applications that support digital transformation efforts.
According to John Bratensevich, senior analyst at Forrester, it has become a priority to find workers with software development skills, or internally trained. When talking to commercial clients, he says, the most common question he asks is how they can stand up and expand a civic development strategy.
What enables citizen development is a combination of low-code and non-code development platforms, enabling business users with little or no coding experience to develop applications based on business needs. “Companies use these platforms to” create hundreds or thousands of citizen developers in their organizations. They want to know how to care for people so that they can be truly proficient in low code, “Bratensevich said.
He added: “In my opinion, where it will all happen, low code development will just be betting on the table for the business factor – just like personal productivity tools.”
Low code height
A January survey by research firm IDC among 380 companies showed that 49% of respondents buy low-code or no-code platforms to convey innovation within the company. The second largest reason for purchasing software tools (39%) was “pandemic related needs”.
In 2021, the global low-tech token development market generated $ 13.8 billion in revenue. Acceptance of low-code software development platforms is growing by more than 20% annually, according to research firm Gartner. By 2023, low code development is expected to be embraced by more than half of all medium to large enterprises.
Low code development tools remove the most common code base and replace it with a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) graphical user interface or visual interface for creating an application. Technology allows employees who do not have a technical background to become citizen developers, expanding opportunities beyond traditional employment or the daily workflow. In addition, low-code tools allow traditional developers to focus on more challenging tasks, while others approach simpler development tasks using low-code technology.
Although there are dozens of companies offering low-code and no-code toolkits, the market leaders are OutSystems, Mendix, Microsoft, Salesforce and ServiceNow, according to Gartner. The platforms sold by Appian, Oracle and Pega are considered “competition” for these leaders.
Business units understand the needs of business applications
ServiceNow, a cloud computing software provider, said more than 80% of its customer base now uses its low-code solution, the App Engine. The company said that the base of active developers in App Engine grows by 47% every month.
The ability to create business applications with low-code and no-code tools has become an expected set of skills for businesses, says Marcus Torres, General Manager of App Engine Business at ServiceNow. Much of it is because the business side of the home better understands a company’s application needs than an IT store.
Millennials and younger workers who make up the majority of today’s workforce feel more comfortable with technology, including software development, than older workers. “They realize there’s an application out there that gives them a bit of an advantage,” Torres said. “With this [low-code] The platforms, people usually try it out and initially have success, and then they try to do more. ”
Torres has seen groups ranging from utility teams to human resources departments develop applications, with development work done by people who do not usually have a technology pedigree.
For example, employees of the cafeteria team at ServiceNow built a menu application using App Engine’s low-code tools. After the menu was used, staff asked if they could order their food through the app, and the facility team expanded the app to include food orders using the same tool sets. Then, of course, the application had to include a payment system for order purchases, so it evolved further.
“that they [employees] “You usually start with a model-based application, and then they find that they want to do more,” Torres said.
A ServiceNow customer, Deloitte UK, has built a portal with the App Engine for everything employees need to do their jobs. Inside the portal is a “MyOnboarding” application that digitized the onboarding process, including previous paper forms that were printed, scanned and then emailed. Staff can also use the portal to find upcoming holidays and book meeting rooms. HR is a major user of low-code development tools, according to Sarah Pful, vice president of global talent development at ServiceNow.
Human resources are an incubator for citizens’ development because the business needs there are constantly evolving – especially in the wake of the pandemic and the rise of remote employment. In fact, the most widely used application in Pfuhl’s department was created by an HR professional who simply saw a pain point and found a solution to it.
Prior to setting up an online Learning and Development (L&D) center, the HR team at Pfhul would send emails back and forth with employees looking for educational opportunities. The process was laborious, time consuming and not scalable as the company grew.
The HR team was able to use low code to build a new L&D center that centralized all training programs in less than one month to better engage the company’s 17,000 employees worldwide. They could then add a tutorial filtering process in less than a week with the same tools.
“This woman was not a developer, and she only started working in HR a few years ago,” Pfull said. “I built an L&D hub, all with low code in a week. Then I went to our digital technology team to make sure it was within our business management and to the company to make sure it was right for them. ”
“When she first showed what the product was going to be and what it could do for people, everyone jumped on board,” Pfuhl continued. Since its launch in February, the L&D Center has been used by 16,000 people.
“There is no way to have this level of participation without this center,” Pfoul said. “I think [low-code is] future wave. Like all other digital transformations, HR will have to embrace it as well.
“I think we know what our people want. “We listen a lot,” she continued. “If the company is doing the right thing, it is because you are doing what employees tell you they need. They want the workflow. They want it to be easy to use. You want the iPhone easily “.
Developers prevent citizens from falling into sneaky
Befoul pointed out the importance of management in launching any new application created by a citizen developer. Not only can you run the application; Once established, the business side should always consult with the IT side to ensure that it matches the company’s guidelines.
“I have to tell you, from now on I’m looking for that product attitude in my team, because I think it’s going to be the future,” said Pfuhl.
Schneider Electric, a provider of digital automation and energy management with approximately 130,000 employees worldwide, has had a civic development program for the past seven years.
Abha Dogra, Senior Vice President of Digital Technology and CIO North America at Schneider Electric, said managing and managing to avoid application scale is the key to the success of a low-code, no-code development strategy.
Otherwise, business applications built outside of the traditional development process can expose the organization to vulnerabilities, such as cyber-security attacks, and create scalable digital assets. It can also increase a company’s “technical debt”, or the additional development costs that result from choosing an easy solution over a more comprehensive approach.
“Your use cases typically start with a small problem, but grow in size and require a complete software application with rigorous development and proper testing with the controls and balances of threat modeling. This is a very fine line when you suddenly have a small use case, which was ideal for low code / no code, suddenly writing into an entire application space, ”said Dogra.
“So while there is a need for every organization to have a low-code / no-code platform, its introduction and introduction to civic developers must be well thought out and have a well-managed mechanism behind it,” Dogra added. . .
ServiceNow’s Torres agreed with Dogra, saying that while IT departments have always had to deal with the “shadow of IT”, low-code, no-code tools have exacerbated the need for carefully planned management.
The ServiceNow platform enables users to create a center of excellence for management and development related rules against which every application created can be verified.
“People who do not use software for a living do not realize that the higher costs are not related to the creation of applications, but to their maintenance. In the past, you saw departments build an application and then say, ‘Here you go, IT. Torres said. “It’s like, whoa. First, I knew nothing about this application; Second, I’m not employed for it; And three, what is it?”
“Not because IT does not want a partnership [with citizen developers] and help. Because they are ultimately responsible for the security of systems and data across the company, ”Torres said. “They do not want this application to spread … they are turning around and there are 10,000 applications of which they know nothing.”
Ultimately, civic development programs should provide IT insight into any application being built before it is implemented, and also ensure that the program remains within the organizational security and regulatory protection barriers.
“This is how you do things on a scale and how you ensure that there is no problem that could be a security or compliance issue,” Torres said.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.