Citizen developers are not only changing the rules on developing software in enterprises today, they also are helping to improve productivity and data access for workers in the enterprise.
In short, so-called citizen developers--developers equipped with easy-to-use cloud-based solutions–are changing the way work gets done, as workers no longer wait for overworked IT professionals to develop an application to automate a core process or provide access to vital information. More often people are choosing to do it themselves using tools that require little or no programming.
“The citizen developer movement isn’t a new phenomenon: People have been using applications like Excel spreadsheets to create tools that manage data and track business activities for years,” said Wayne Byrne, director of product marketing at KeyedIn Solutions. “Although these tools are widely used to handle core functions like support desk ticketing and staff expenses, there are significant downsides to the practice from IT’s perspective.”
Byrne said most user-created Excel files are not encrypted, so there is a risk of a data breach. Another drawback is that productivity applications like Excel files are unwieldy in an increasingly mobile technology landscape, he said.
However, an application platform-as-a-service, or what Byrne and KeyedIn refer to as an aPaaS solution for IT and citizen developers, can be an ideal solution, he said.
“With the right high productivity aPaaS solution, organizations can capture the processes and workflows currently managed with user-created spreadsheets and databases without committing to expensive customization and lengthy development projects,” he said.
KeyedIn offers a visual aPaaS solution called Konfigure that has drag-and-drop features and easy deployment capabilities. Konfigure enables users to build secure, mobile-optimized and cloud-ready applications that can be integrated into existing systems. With no-code capabilities, citizen developers who intimately understand their business processes and data needs can create a custom application in a matter of hours rather than weeks or months, Byrne said.
Citing the ease of use of Konfigure, Byrne told eWEEK a junior at Dunbar High School in Ft. Myers, Fla., used Konfigure to create a cloud app that enables students to manage homework assignments. The student was introduced to Konfigure by Vella Technologies, a KeyedIn business partner. The product’s drag-and-drop functions and workflow-driven design enabled the student to build a cloud app in just a few hours, allowing teachers and students to manage homework assignments efficiently, Byrne said.
Similar innovations were exposed during the 2014 National Day of Civic Hacking event in Lee County, Fla. -- where Ft. Myers is located. In addition to Dunbar High School students, local software developers, computer programmers, project managers and businesses participated to find ways to use publicly available data to improve the local community and explore new transportation options. The Ft. Myers Institute of Technology, Chico’s, KeyedIn Solutions and Binary Structures participated in the hackathon to seek new solutions as citizen developers.