Citizen Developers Are Changing the Face of Business Software

So-called citizen developers are making an impact on enterprise software development by building their own apps without the help of IT.

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An emerging class of "citizen developers" equipped with tools and capabilities unique to this era is changing the landscape of business software by building and using their own homegrown apps as opposed to apps developed by IT departments or off-the-shelf solutions.

According to a new report from TrackVia, these developers are backed by more powerful, easy-to-use cloud-based solutions and they are helping to rewrite the software rules for many companies.

TrackVia is a Denver-based software company helping empower citizen developers to create their own mobile and business apps with clicks and not code. The company's report, titled "Rise of the Citizen Developer," is based on survey results of 1,000 workers, along with insights from nearly 2,500 of TrackVia's own citizen developer business customers.

"Being a Citizen Developer is about a lot more than just being tech savvy," said Pete Khanna, CEO of TrackVia, in a statement. "Citizen Developers are leveraging not only their comfort with technology, but also their business acumen to change how businesses use technology to run their company and departments."

Commonly defined as end users who create new business applications for consumption by others, citizen developers differ from their non-citizen developer counterparts in several key ways. They are much more inclined to find or build software to meet their exact needs versus waiting for or calling on IT to provide homegrown or generic technology solutions. They are also more likely to use personal technology, including devices and applications, at the office to do their daily work. And they are much more likely than their non-citizen developer counterparts to bypass IT to find their own technology solutions to business challenges.

Citizen developers are often—though not always—part of the shadow IT phenomenon, where applications and IT solutions are being built and used inside organizations without explicit organizational approval. While shadow IT has some advantages and can spur innovation, it also can be risky due to possible compliance issues, security concerns and more.

In addition to technology differences with non-citizen developers, citizen developers are much more ambitious about their careers, the survey revealed. Citizen developers reported getting promoted faster and more often, as well as earning more money, suggesting they are more likely to be on the fast track to leadership positions.

"Given their strong career aspirations, we believe Citizen Developers will become increasingly more influential in helping reshape the software rules for companies as they rise to leadership positions within organizations," Khanna said.

Other report findings included that 50 percent of 18-29 year olds said they have built or would build their own business or mobile apps, compared with 43 percent of those ages 45-60. In addition, 56 percent of citizen developers said they use personal apps at work, versus 28 percent of non-citizen developers. And 73 percent of citizen developers said they expect to be able to modify and customize their work computer or laptop by adding software and applications whenever needed.

Moreover, more than half of the citizen developers surveyed said they are most qualified to decide the software and applications they use at work, instead of IT or their manager; and nearly two-thirds of citizen developers said they will go around IT to find technology solutions if IT doesn't provide the business tools needed.

TrackVia provides a do-it-yourself application platform for business users. It empowers users to quickly build custom apps to run their departments or their entire business with no programming required.

A host of such tools exist in the market, including Microsoft's Project Siena. Project Siena is the code name of a technology for business experts, business analysts, consultants and others to create apps for the mobile-first, cloud-first world without any programming. In fact, Microsoft says building Project Siena apps is as easy as editing a document.

To view the full TrackVia report, go here.