Monday, March 27, 2023

Citizen Developers Crucial to Addressing the Rising Tech Talent Gap

By Prangya Pandab - September 15, 2022 4 Mins Read


Due to a shortage of skilled professional developers and the proliferation of low-code and no-code platforms, organizations are increasingly turning to tech-savvy business users to address their application demands. However, the shadow IT approach can be dangerous.

Organizations are looking at no-code and low-code app development to meet their needs for digital transformation due to a tech skills shortage that is expected to worsen in the coming years.

In fact, employing low-code and no-code to create apps is now the norm rather than the exception for many business users. As a result, citizen developers who have little to no experience using command-line coding to build software are emerging.

A sizeable portion of app developers will come from business units aiming to digitize processes and who perceive low-code or no-code software tools as a solution to their challenges rather than from IT. Despite their lack of coding experience, citizen developers are generally tech-savvy; they have experience with databases and spreadsheets, or they have a deep understanding of the company’s technology since they work as business analysts or customer support representatives.

Not only are businesses embracing the trend, but low-code technology is also being promoted by IT vendors, such as ERP, CRM, and Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) providers. Even professional developers are joining in.

Also Read: Customers Today Look at Cloud to Modernize than Lift and Shift

Establishing a Workforce of Citizen Developers

Citizens developers can quickly build apps utilizing modular code sets since no-code/low-code tools use graphical user interfaces and abstract away a lot of the line code.

Most begin using the tools to address a small business issue, like switching from a paper-based process to a digital one. The platforms are often free and simple to use and upload to. The issue is that anyone can create an app based on that. Establishing guidelines, guardrails, or governance norms for app development should be the first step for organizations. Both external and internally-facing apps should be subject to the regulations. The same rules that govern how data is used by apps developed by IT can also, in some cases, apply to apps developed by citizen developers.

No-code platforms offer testing tools for automatically assessing apps developed by citizen developers. Companies can encourage citizen developers to create apps without risking the IT infrastructure of the organization by combining technologically enforced guardrails and policies.

Additionally, businesses should create a library of pre-approved no-code and low-code applications and start making them available to users. In other words, they should create an internal app store for employees and provide training on how to use it.

The IT department must be involved from the start. They must look at every application being added to the catalog for its specific case and ascertain what kind of data it accesses.

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Additionally, it’s crucial to have IT mentors available for those who are new to app development because they can help users identify what data can be usable and what may not be because of their expertise in regulatory compliance. On the technical side, it’s critical to avoid user errors while employing drag-and-drop, composable low-code interfaces. Otherwise, they might unintentionally create an infinite loop in the workflow.

Also, a quality assurance pipeline must be established so that IT can examine apps created by citizen developers for compliance with internal business requirements.

The Way Forward

Compliance is crucial since many low-code platforms are cloud-based, exposing sensitive corporate data, such as personally identifiable information, when data is fed into the tools by business units.

When using them, some users may not necessarily consider data policies. As most tools are now web-based development environments, organizations are essentially storing their data on servers. Employees must therefore be alert to this just as they are to phishing attacks.

Training is also essential for success. Without it, organizations cannot fully benefit from low-code technologies, such as productivity gains and decreases in resource constraints. Upskilling and reskilling current employees not only fills a development gap but also promotes employee retention, as learning new skills has been identified as a top goal among employees.

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Prangya Pandab

Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.

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