How to build a “citizen developer” workforce – Yalla Match

As the technical talent gap is expected to worsen in the coming years, enterprise and corporate users are increasingly turning to developing low-code and no-code applications for their digital transformation needs.

In fact, for many business users, knowing how to build low-code and no-code applications has become the norm rather than the exception. (The difference between no code and low code is that the latter gives developers access to command-line coding, which allows for some customization. Depends.)

This creates a “citizen developer” with little or no training in writing programs using command-line coding. Their number is expected to quadruple the number of professional developers by next year, according to research firm Gartner. In fact, according to IDC, 60% of Global 2000 companies have digital developer ecosystems with thousands of developers.

A large number of these application developers will not come from IT departments, but from business units that want to digitize processes and are looking for low- or no-code software tools as a way to solve problems. Citizen developers may have little knowledge of programming, but they are generally technologically savvy. They’ve worked with spreadsheets and databases, are customer service representatives or business analysts, so they’re familiar with your company’s technology.

There is a huge pool of potential low/low code developers. Gartner found that an average of 41% of all employees can be considered business technology professionals, but this number varies by industry.

Companies aren’t the only ones embracing this trend. According to Gartner, IT vendors such as CRM, ERP and Platform as a Service (PaaS) vendors are driving low-code technologies. Research firms predict that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by organizations will use low- or no-sign technology. This is up from less than 25% two years ago. By 2025, we expect development technology spending to reach approximately $30 billion.

Gartner low code use case diagram Gartner

Professional developers also participate. Jason Wong, Gartner Senior Vice President and Software Design and Development Analyst, said:

Some low-code tools, such as Retool and Appsmith, target professional developers, he says, “showing the maturity and acceptance of low-code development.”

Building an Educated Workforce

Low-code and no-code tools use a graphical user interface (GUI) and abstract a lot of font code, allowing native developers to quickly build applications using a modular code set.

Most people use tools to solve simple business problems, such as converting paper operations (such as spreadsheets) into digital operations. The platforms are usually free and easy to download and use. For example, Amazon’s Honeycode is a low-code online service that offers several templates for creating mobile and web applications for project management.

“If you want to start your journey as a citizen developer, your IT department will tell you that this is the platform we use and here are the best practices and how these applications use data,” said Michelle Rosen, Director of Research at IDC , said. It would be much better to say

Organizations should start by establishing rules, “firewalls” or governance policies around application development. The rules should cover both internal and external applications. In some cases, the same policies that apply to the use of data by applications created by IT departments may also apply to applications created by citizen developers.

“However, some tokenless tools offer the ability to perform application approval processes at multiple points in the application lifecycle,” says Rosen.

The no-sign platform also provides testing tools for automated evaluation of applications created by citizen developers. By combining policies with technology-enhanced safeguards, companies can encourage citizen developers to build applications without compromising corporate IT infrastructure.

Organizations should also begin creating catalogs of pre-approved low-code and no-code programs to offer to users. This means creating an internal app store for your employees and providing training on how to use it.

The IT department should be involved from the start. According to Sudarshan Dharmapuri, vice president of products at Cisco, each application added to the catalog must be scanned for a specific condition to determine what type of data the application is accessing.

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“IT is still the custodian of core business systems,” Dharmapuri said. “They need to be involved in identifying the best use cases and workload types for citizen developers. You can see we are still involved.”

It is also important to provide IT mentors to users who are new to application development. IT professionals skilled in regulatory compliance know what data is usable and what is not. (Some low-code platforms have the ability to manage customer approval or subscription preferences. One such platform is Cisco’s Webex Connect.)

Technically, it is important to prevent users from making mistakes when using a configurable, low-code drag-and-drop interface. Otherwise, you may accidentally put an infinite loop in the workflow (a series of instructions that continues indefinitely unless you manually stop it).

Professional developers in IT shops also need to determine what kind of logic is used behind the scenes. As Rosen noted, “No code still uses code. There is a need to.”

For example, GitHub Copilot uses OpenAI Codex to suggest code for programmers using Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code source code editor. Rosen said Copilot in some cases took personal information embedded in the code and made it public. Native developers can make the same kind of mistakes when writing apps because they can accidentally add sensitive data to their code.

Finally, we need to create a quality assurance pipeline. In this way, applications created by citizen developers are also vetted by the IT department to ensure compliance with internal business rules.

Disadvantages of low code / no code

Compliance is important because many low-code platforms are cloud-based. Data entered into the tool by business units may reveal sensitive company data, such as personally identifiable information such as customer medical records or financial account details. Apps with no code or low code may not meet internal security requirements. Also, the resulting application cannot integrate with server-side and front-end business applications.

“If everyone in the office had something like Microsoft PowerApps in Microsoft 365, they might experience this ability to build apps without interacting with IT,” Rosen said. In short, we are under the constant threat of Shadow IT.

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“Some people don’t necessarily think about data policy when they use these tools,” she said. As such, employees should be as sensitive to this as they are to a phishing attack. Companies like to sell the idea that you don’t need training to learn how to use little or no code. you do “

“These are the kinds of issues that employees need to be sensitive to. Just as we sensitize all employees to phishing attacks and other potential data abuse. With the prevalence of low-code tools, training is probably what every employee needs, Rosen added.

Companies continue to invest in new platforms

Many organizations have budgets to train business users to work as low-code developers. An IDC survey in January of 380 companies showed that 48.6% of respondents are buying low-code or no-code platforms to drive innovation within the company. Another 39% say software tools help mitigate “pandemic-related needs.”

Application platforms for developing business applications, including low-token and no-token, are among the top three investment areas across platform-as-a-service providers, according to IDC research. Almost half of respondents (45.5%) expect spending on application development to increase over the next two years.

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According to Rosen, training is also important for success. Without comprehensive training support for low-code development, organizations cannot take full advantage of the benefits of low-code technologies, such as increased productivity and reduced resource constraints.

For example, project management software provider RizePoint built a technology training program via Codecademy, a browser-based online education platform. By upgrading existing employees, RizePoint has filled 100% of its open technology roles with existing employees.

Learning new skills has been proven to be a top priority for employees, so retraining or upskilling existing employees not only fills development gaps, but also helps to survive.

Codecademy for Business General Manager Jonathan Naimark said:

Codecademy and other online developer training platforms are used by many companies to create citizen developer programs. Naimark said this is because the platform is an interactive, self-paced learning environment that teaches employees how to apply new skills in real-time and prepares them for real-world work experience. .

However, Nymark said the Citizen Developer program takes money and time, so it cannot be taken lightly.

“It takes a long time,” Nymark says. “So you have to think about the problem you are trying to solve. What assets do you currently have? And how much are you willing to invest?”

How RizePoint adopted low-code/no-code

RizePoint created a low code/no code developer program that took employees six months to complete. The company relies heavily on a group of customer service or success representatives who do not have a technical background but have a deep understanding of the company’s products.

The program initially focuses on learning JavaScript, one of the simplest programming languages.

It’s a very flexible and easy-to-learn language,” said Daryl Williams, director of technology at RizePoint. In fact, JavaScript can drive you crazy. Think of all the popular JavaScript libraries for building web applications.

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Business users’ progress in the RizePoint Developer Program will be measured every two to four weeks to ensure their proficiency as provided in the Codecademy training platform.

“If they do well with Codecadcemy, they can dive into JavaScript, get some SQL databases, and get basic web design for HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets),” Williams said. By the time he was 35 years old, he had a career in technology.

RizePoint native developers are always paired with intermediate or advanced level developers during their internships.

The company also continues to maintain standard best practices, such as “pull requests” for business users to develop applications, particularly applications used by multiple business units. The pull request is followed by an IT quality assurance review during the implementation phase and post-production release.

For users who underwent the coding training program, RizePoint achieved a 98% employee retention rate over the next two years.

“So, through our CSR we bring in people [customer service representative] The team was great. Because at this level you see a lot of people who are hungry to learn and build a career. “When they train and get paid, they feel like they’ve achieved a lot. They also appreciate the organization that helped them reach this level and achieve such success.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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