The Rise of the Citizen Developer

Table of contents

Citizen developers sitting at a table

The amount of knowledge needed for application development has fallen rapidly over the last decade as more companies take advantage of no-code and low-code platforms. Today, citizen developers can build new business applications in graphics-based environments with drag-and-drop functionality. Instead of reaching out to IT professionals to improve functionality and solve business problems, they can use development tools made specifically for non-IT professionals.

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example MySQL database provided to you as part of the trial!

Create Your No Code APIs Now

Expect the continued growth of citizen development to change several aspects of your business. According to Gartner, companies must include citizen development in the future of apps (paywall). For good or bad, the technology is here to stay.

What Are Citizen Developers?

Citizen developers are usually employees and managers who do not work in the IT department. They might not know much — or anything — about software development. However, they understand their business needs and processes. Insight into how they could make their business processes more efficient makes them interested in building applications with automation features that can help their teams work more efficiently.

Since they often have no experience with DevOps, citizen developers cannot code applications for their teams. They can, however, use low-code and no-code solutions to build applications that address their needs. It only takes a little knowledge for them to improve workflows, add process automation, and replace outdated software like Microsoft Excel with microservices that do specific jobs very well.

How Will Citizen Development Affect Your Organization?

The rise of citizen developers could have both positive and negative consequences for your organization. Now that so many low-code tools and no-code development platforms exist, it's important to embrace the technology and find ways to mitigate the unwanted consequences.

Like any emerging trend, citizen development comes with pros and cons for businesses

Potential Benefits of Citizen Development

The potential benefits of embracing citizen developers include:

  • Citizen development makes it less likely that employees will turn to shadow IT. Instead of choosing unauthorized applications, they can make apps that perform unique functions without putting your IT infrastructure at risk.
  • Professional developers working with your IT team don’t always know what features departments need most. Low-code and no-code platforms give control back to people working in the departments.
  • You could save money by letting employees and managers create tools instead of relying on high-priced IT teams.
  • Citizen development gives your programmers more time to work on the backlog and focus on larger corporate IT projects.

Potential Problems With Citizen Developers

Modernization often creates unexpected barriers to success. When your employees start developing apps, you may find that:

  • They don’t know which SaaS tools will give them the best results.
  • They spend a lot of time learning how to use no-code and low-code platforms instead of working on their assignments.
  • You might not get high-quality apps for business analytics, process automation, and other essential features.
  • Departments could build technology silos instead of sharing their application solutions with each other.
  • Applications might not have the right integrations to work with each other.

Ideally, your CIO can help direct the business’s digital transformation. Executives may need to ask the CIO to consider how citizen development will play a role in that process.

Low-Code and No-Code Tools for Citizen Developers

If your employees start working as citizen developers, it makes sense for you to make the most of the situation. Direct them toward reliable low-code and no-code tools they can use to build applications. Otherwise, they might choose solutions that don’t work or have serious security flaws.

Try DreamFactory for low-code API generation. It will help ensure that all your tools can communicate with each other.

Other options you should explore include:

  • Appian - A no-code tool with a drag-and-drop environment.
  • Bubble - A tool that lets citizen developers customize applications through an intuitive user-interface.
  • Parabola - A no-code tool that makes it easier to automate data-related tasks. It can also streamline the process of connecting apps.
  • Scapic - An augmented reality platform that helps people build e-commerce sites. 
  • Webflow - One of the easiest ways for citizen developers to build websites. The drag-and-drop environment and templates let you create sites without any coding skills.

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example MySQL database provided to you as part of the trial!

Create Your No Code APIs Now

DreamFactory: A No-Code API Tool for Citizen Developers

You will almost certainly encounter problems getting citizen developer apps to communicate with each other. DreamFactory can eliminate most of those problems without forcing anyone to learn programming. With DreamFactory, your citizen developers benefit from a solution that:

  • Turns SOAP into REST APIs for better performance and security
  • Automatically generates and publishes APIs
  • Has exceptional security features
  • Features live API documentation

Your IT team will also find DreamFactory useful since it helps them do everything from connecting to databases to developing custom code with more functionality than citizen development apps.

Start a free 14-day trial with DreamFactory. Once you see how well it works for every employee, you will want to sign up for a plan that matches your unique needs.