IBM announced results of a global study that showed that 80 percent of enterprises are forming new partnerships with emerging groups such as citizen developers to close the skills gap for application development.
The study entitled “Raising the Game: The IBM Business Tech Trends Report,” was conducted by the IBM Center for Applied Insights and is based on survey findings of more than 1,400 IT and business decision-makers in 15 industries across five continents.
The IBM study found that 40 percent of organizations still report a moderate-to-major skills gap across mobile, cloud, social and analytics technologies despite these technologies driving key innovations for enterprises.
In an interview with eWEEK, Sandy Carter, IBM’s general manager of ecosystem development, said the report examined common traits of “pacesetters,” organizations that are achieving tangible business results from cloud, mobile, analytics and social technologies. The so-called pacesetters are finding creative new ways to narrow the gap in skills their organizations have, whether this gap falls under general IT skills, application development or data analytics.
Specifically, these organizations are calling upon citizen developers, an emerging group of industry professionals who create new business applications and help with IT decisions as a side venture—outside of their regular work responsibilities. In addition to turning to citizen developers, these pacesetter organizations are twice as likely to turn to academia for product development and 70 percent more likely to turn to startups for execution.
“I love the idea of utilizing the talents of these scrappy citizen developers out there who are skilled in creating applications,” Carter said. “This can help reduce the skills gap that exists in the industry.”
Market research firm Gartner defines a citizen developer as a user operating outside the scope of enterprise IT and its governance that creates new business applications for consumption by others, either from scratch or by composition. A 2009 Gartner report projected that by 2014, citizen developers would build at least 25 percent of new business applications. Gartner said that this advance would enable end users and free up IT resources. However, Gartner also warned that IT organizations that fail to capitalize on the opportunities that citizen development presents will find themselves unable to respond to rapidly changing market forces and customer preferences.
IBM’s Carter said partners that actively crowdsource ideas and technology assets with their customers, citizen developers and students drive deeper engagement for positive results.
For example, IBM business partner Esri, a provider of geographic information systems (GIS) software, regularly uses sites like GitHub, a repository for open-source code, to share and build apps for mobile, social, analytics and cloud technologies. In regard to its own product road map, Esri also conducts hackathons and application challenges that drive creativity and product feedback.
Esri recently sponsored a “climate resiliency app challenge,” which was won by a student team at the University of Minnesota working on a semester-long project to assess solar suitability in Minnesota.
80% of Enterprises Turning to Citizen Developers for Innovation
“Through our efforts in events like hackathons and application challenges that appeal to citizen developers, we ensure that we have a pulse on what leading edge developers would like to do with geospatial – and all of this informs our own roadmap,” said Robin Jones, director of platform adoption at Esri, in a statement. “The outcomes are fast, beneficial, and interesting for everyone.”
Meanwhile, the study indicated that pacesetter organizations are four to seven times more likely to use cloud technology to deliver social, mobile, big data and analytics capabilities. In fact, 55 percent of pacesetters said they are using mobile solutions via the cloud and are five times more likely to deliver social business solutions via the cloud than their competitors.
eyeQ, which provides in-store retail solutions that mimic the online store experience, is one example of a company combining cloud-based solutions built on IBM’s Bluemix platform-as-a-service (PaaS) with analytics to help brick and mortar stores harness ecommerce capabilities to better engage with their in-store customers. In addition, eyeQ customers can leverage mobile location data to have shoppers opt-in via text message to receive a personal and targeted in-store shopping experience.
Carter said another example of a company helping organizations better integrate cloud, social and mobile technologies is Hootsuite, a social relationship platform. Hootsuite provides a platform via the cloud so that organizations can better integrate public and company social networks, such as IBM Connections. The integration between IBM Connections and Hootsuite enables users to improve collective intelligence by empowering them to share knowledge across an organization, increase coordination and project management and save time by unifying multiple messages across different social networks.
The IBM study also found that the pacesetters showed strong use of analytics. In fact, the study showed that 90 percent of pacesetters have mature big data and analytics capabilities, while 60 percent plan to increase investment in this area by 10 percent or more over the next two years. Additionally, the study found nearly 7 out of 10 pacesetter organizations make analytical insights a significant part of their decision-making process.
For example, Fiserv, a financial services technology provider and IBM business partner, has made analytics integral to its business. With deep integration of analytics into its banking and payments solutions, Fiserv helps its financial institution clients gain deeper insights into customer trends and behaviors.
Through a focus on analytics, Fiserv worked with an $8 billion savings bank to strengthen customer relationships and spur mobile banking and electronic bill pay adoption. Fiserv provided analytical solutions to help identify individual customer groups for targeted marketing efforts that helped the institution gain substantial increases in mobile banking and bill pay utilization across its customer base, IBM said.
“The 2014 Business Tech Trends report illustrates how IBM business partners and clients are leading their industries due to their use of cloud, analytics, mobile, and social technologies,” Carter said in a statement. “Companies are no longer just dipping their toes into the water with these key technologies. Pacesetter organizations are diving in and adopting them broadly across their business while also identifying new ways to partner and gain the skills and capabilities necessary to outperform their competitors.”