Citizen Developers Gain Power, Effect Change

According to a recent Intuit survey, citizen developers are gaining power and beginning to push digital transformation within the enterprise.


Citizen developers -- those developers not necessarily officially sanctioned by corporate IT -- are gaining an increasing amount of power and flexibility in the enterprise as they build apps for their own specialized uses, according to a recent survey.

They survey, conducted by Intuit QuickBase, set out to learn more about how its customers were capitalizing on the citizen development trend. Results indicate that citizen developers are becoming increasingly more empowered to build their own applications, said John Carione, product marketing manager at Intuit QuickBase, in a blog post on the survey results.

Intuit QuickBase is a low-code platform that enables citizen developers to build, customize, and connect business apps. The platform appears to be ideal for non-professional developers to build line-of -business applications, as reflected in the survey results. Indeed, as business process and IT leaders align, employees closest to the problems at hand are building apps to address these problems. At the same time, these citizen developers work together with IT to design apps tailored to their unique set of requirements while helping reduce IT’s growing application backlog, Carione said.

“Citizen Developers are empowered problem-solvers from the various lines of business who have the drive and determination to engage in app development even though they lack traditional coding skills,” said Intuit’s “The State of Citizen Development Report.”

Moreover, the report acknowledges that there is growing demand for new applications that don’t fit in the typical categories of ERP, CRM, etc. The apps are focused on solving ad hoc or nascent workflows and processes that may still be evolving inside an organization.

“Citizen development can accelerate digital transformation by empowering those in the business who are closest to the problem to build the last mile of the app to fit their unique requirements,” the report said.

To be sure, there is a paradigm shift now occurring in modern application development from early adopters embracing low- code platforms for citizen development, Carione said. “However, they don’t do this alone and they don’t do it in a vacuum,” he said. “They partner deeply with IT who oversee the application architecture, maintain account governance standards and continue to have transparency through the life of the application.”

The survey showed that 29 percent of citizen developers using a low- code platform such as QuickBase have seen a two times or greater increase in application development speeds. Over three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents cited operational efficiency as the primary reason for using the platform. And 62 percent of respondents said it takes an average of less than two weeks for them to complete an application.

The perception of just who is a citizen developer also is changing. “These respondents weren’t simply IT developers with deep coding expertise getting more efficiency and speed in the app dev process. They were true citizen developers in the line of business,” Carione said. “For example, according to the report, only 8 percent of respondents had traditional coding skills -- Java, .NET, C++, Ruby, etc., yet, 68 percent considered developing apps part of their day job. But that’s not to say IT professionals are being left out of the process. In fact, the majority (75 percent) of IT builders indicated that they developed over three quarters of the applications and leave the last mile to their non-coder citizen developer colleagues. It’s the prototyping process between IT and the business that represents the paradigm shift.”

Carione noted that the survey results exceeded the company’s expectations, yet they are reflective of the business momentum that QuickBase has experienced. In the past year alone, the number of QuickBase users has surpassed 500,000, with more than 5,700 organizations being served and 5.6 million apps created.

“Customers have built over 5million apps from project management to customer relationship management, asset tracking, campaign and document management, to name a few,” said Allison Mnookin, vice president and general manager of Intuit QuickBase, in a statement. “Our data integration vision is to support growing and thriving businesses by enabling them to easily connect with their application ecosystems.”

Furthermore, Intuit QuickBase customers, on average, have more than 20 active apps per organization, he said.

“What this demonstrates is not only the growth the QuickBase organization is experiencing, but also the paradigm shift in the way businesses create, manage, and deliver modern business applications such as project and process management, inventory, financial reporting, HR management, CRM/marketing automation, IT asset management/help desk, and customer service related applications,” Carione said.