In recent years, the term 'Citizen Developer' has gained prominence across various IT sectors and industries, from airports revolutionising app development to automotive repair companies streamlining their processes. But what exactly is a 'Citizen Developer,' and why is this concept gaining such importance?
Defining the Citizen Developer
Citizen Developers are individuals who harness the power of rapid development and low or no-code platforms to create software solutions, often for their own needs or those of their teams. These platforms provide a visual, integrated development environment, allowing users to drag-and-drop application components, connect them seamlessly, and bring their ideas to life. A prime example of such a platform is Microsoft Power Apps, recently endorsed by both Forrester and Gartner. For a deeper dive into these platforms and how they operate, you can explore the article linked here: PowerApps for Pros: Develop Faster with Low Code.
The beauty of this trend lies in its simplicity: the people closest to a problem are now empowered to use technology to solve it, ultimately benefiting entire organisations.
Welcome News in the IT Landscape
Senior IT professionals have recognised Citizen Development as one of the most transformative movements within the IT talent market in recent years. Notably, the UK faces a pressing technology skills shortage, with 70% of employers in the tech sector experiencing this shortage. Software development ranks as the third most sought-after skill, leaving over half of employers struggling to find candidates with the right technical expertise.
In response, Citizen Developers have emerged as a valuable solution to bridge the skills gap. Low or No-code development platforms make application creation accessible without the need for extensive hand-coding or traditional programming languages. This innovation empowers organisations to turn inward, fostering innovation and skills development within their existing workforce.
One additional advantage is the ability to draw professionals from non-technology backgrounds into the IT sector. Exposure to technology equips them with essential skills and generates interest in this dynamic field. This shift has the potential to alleviate the current skills gap by increasing the pool of skilled IT professionals. Moreover, a larger pool of candidates fosters healthy competition, raising the overall quality of IT professionals to address employers' needs effectively.
The Cost-Effective Aspect
Apart from skill enhancement, Citizen Developers also offer cost-effective advantages. Businesses can save time and costs by hiring internally rather than expanding their IT departments externally. Moreover, the automation of workflows and processes brings further cost savings. Microsoft Power Apps, for instance, enables users to create, manage, and share business apps across multiple devices. These apps can seamlessly connect with various Microsoft-based and third-party applications, including Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint, OneDrive, and more. Hosted on Microsoft Azure, this ecosystem empowers developers to control development, implementation, and maintenance efficiently, managing time, money, and resources.
While all these advantages sound promising, the journey from concept to reality is not without its challenges. To identify potential high-performing Citizen Developers within your organization, a structured approach is essential.
Finding the Right Talent
One of the remarkable aspects of Citizen Developers is their proximity to real-world problems. However, even the most skilled individuals might require professional guidance to get started. Professionals with specialized backgrounds can impart knowledge and guide Citizen Developers through the intricacies of the platforms they'll be using for app development. By recognizing the potential within your existing workforce, implementing an appropriate low or no-code platform, and providing professional mentorship, employees from various departments can evolve into Citizen Developers, creating innovative solutions for the entire organization.
Real-Life Success Stories
To drive home the direct impact of this concept, let's delve into two compelling case studies:
Martin Lee of Autoglass: Martin, initially a dispatcher, confronted the challenge of time-consuming data reporting. He used Microsoft Power Apps to create a streamlined workflow for technicians and operations managers. This digital transformation resulted in saving an estimated £1.6 million in potential annual revenue. Today, Martin stands as a Software Developer with around 40 deployed apps within the company.
Samit Saini at Heathrow Airport: Samit began his journey in security, using Power Apps to replace traditional paperwork and manual data input. His innovative app saved around 11,000 sheets of paper and 288 hours of manual labor. Samit's dedication has led him to become an IT User Adoption Specialist at Heathrow, overseeing 17 apps used in one of the world's largest airports.
For more details on these inspiring case studies, you can explore the following URLs:
A Promising Future
Over the past five years, Citizen Developers have gained significant traction and are poised to reshape the IT employment landscape in the UK. Their expertise lies in crafting centralized apps for administration, data tracking, and reporting, saving time, resources, and revenue. Crucially, these apps offer greater control, replacing unsynchronized and unmonitored solutions with a unified approach. Organisations should actively promote innovation, enabling Citizen Developers to address problems on a larger scale.
From a recruitment perspective, the time has come to welcome professionals from diverse backgrounds. Many individuals possess the potential to emerge as Citizen Developers, bringing data understanding, storage expertise, and leveraging capabilities to solve problems and drive success within their organisations. In a talent market where skills are scarce and barriers are high, this transformation streamlines entry for professionals from other disciplines, facilitating the building of a technological skill set within businesses they already understand.
The future looks promising, and it's time for companies to turn their attention inward to harness the untapped potential within their organisations.
For a more in-depth exploration of this fascinating movement, we collaborated with Chris Huntingford from Microsoft. To watch the video and delve into the Citizen Developer movement in greater detail, please follow this URL: Watch the Video.