Insights  |  November 17, 2016

Empower Citizen Developers in your Enterprise

In today’s digital world, Apps have become an essential part of all enterprise activities.  App demands are driven by both external customers, who demand it to be interactive and internal customers(employees), who want tons of custom business apps to be built.  Internal app demands are primarily generated by non-technical-business teams.  The apps are usually non-mission-critical but business-critical apps.  The people who demand these apps are business users who usually have limited -technical knowledge.  A small portion of these app demands are getting satiated by out-of-the-box SaaS services but they still have a big chunk of custom demands that have to be built..  There is an inherent dependency created on the technical/IT teams to take care of these app needs.  But in organizations, IT/technical teams have focused mostly on the core/mission-critical apps.  This creates a catch-22 situation for these business app developers, where they themselves cannot create an app and the IT team is a bottleneck.  In essence app development is in the control of a select few technical developers and the IT team.  In other words, there is no “Democratic way to include all stakeholders into the app development process”.  

Unleashing the new generation of “Citizen Developers”

Back in 2011, Gartner predicted that at least 25% of all business applications will be built by citizen developers.  The emergence of the non-technical business developers also called as citizen developers, is real now.  Gartner defines a citizen developer as “A user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and run-time environments sanctioned by corporate IT.”.  

Low-Code Platforms and Citizen Developers

One of the primary reasons for the coming-of-age of the citizen developers include the emergence of modern low-code platforms.  Low-Code platforms like Wavemaker bring in a new zeal for the citizen developers where they can use visual app-building approaches, 1-click deployments, and DIY app maintenance to quickly create an app from an idea.  

However, the emergence of both the citizen developers and low-code platforms has not played out that much with a lot of the enterprise technology leadership.  There are still challenges within enterprises to establish a centralized innovation platform for citizen developers to quickly create an app from an idea.  There are no established methodologies that can be adopted by enterprise IT to make the combo of citizen-developers and low-code-platforms work effectively.  Agile processes are only partially successful with low-code platforms.  Partial involvement of technical teams is still a reality.  Even a small involvement of technical teams brings in big hurdles to unleash the true power of the citizen developer movement.  

Is BiModal-IT a solution?

Is Gartner’s BiModal-IT, a solution for ushering in the Citizen Developer movement? The answer would be  Yes and No.  BiModal-IT is a high-level methodology that is to employed by enterprises and propagates the creation and operation of 2 distinct teams to tackle the issues of renovate and innovate.  Citizen developers can be employed in both teams, more so in Innovate teams.  

BiModal-IT doesn’t specifically get into the intricacies of how exactly the citizen developers can be empowered.  Gartner though gets into those details in another publication specifically targeting the citizen developers.  There it talks about how Citizen developers can contribute to enterprise innovation(mode 2 of BiModal-IT), how they need separate special infrastructure and tools (like low-code platforms) to get empowered.

citizen enterprisesBimodal IT and Pace Layering (Courtesy: Gartner)

WaveMaker 2-pass development methodology

2-pass development is a new methodology proposed by WaveMaker, specifically targeted at using a low-code platform in the most optimized manner to completely leverage the omnipresent citizen developers in an enterprise to usher an era of enterprise innovation.  

2-pass development methodology, as it says, includes two development passes:

  • A Business Pass, driven by a team comprising of non-technical business developers who build their apps using a low-code platform like WaveMaker.  They build their apps visually by drag and dropping out-of-the-box UI components.  When there is a custom requirement for an app, they pass on the development for a “Technical Pass
  • A Technical Pass, driven by a team comprising of technical experts and developers writes the code and wraps them as visual components, that can be used by the Business Pass team to build apps.  

*Read more about the 2-pass development approach and its benefits in my blog here.

2-pass development methodology bridges the missing links bring in much-needed standardization and process optimization into the app development using low-code platforms with citizen developers.

This setup can enable the enterprise citizen developers in a big way and usher in innovation within the enterprise.  “Democratization of app development” becomes a reality. WaveMaker platform is helping customers serve theirs. It is truly commendable how low-code platforms like WaveMaker is helping add tremendous amounts of value to many enterprises by giving them the freedom to build codeless, intuitive technology at the click of the mouse.