What are citizen developers and why they are game changers

Citizen Developers Jun 21, 2021

Citizen developers are the people that, without formal training in IT or software engineering, use technology to make things happen and, let me tell you, they are changing the game. The traditional arquetype of entrepreneurs is of someone who has a great idea and then surrounds themself with other people to build that idea. Citizen developers find ways to turn their ideas into reality by leveraging all the tools available on the internet today.

These ‘personas’, as Gartner puts it, are employees “who create application capabilities for consumption by themselves or others, using tools that are not actively forbidden by IT or business units”. A Forbes article describes them as “individuals within a company who have access to a visual integrated development environment (IDE). Within this environment, the citizen developer is able to use drag-and-drop application components, connect them together in order to generate a new unique web or mobile application”.

So in a very simple way, we could define citizen developers as employees outside the development department of a company that can create software using an assortment of Low-Code and No-Code tools.

But why are they game-changers?

Well, by giving power to employees inside different departments of a company, several things can happen. The first one is that generating ideas, brainstorming and the development of new software become more of a diverse process, because new, different backgrounds are entering the playing field. When this happens there are more chances to be on the forefront of innovation, as biases are less prominent and feedback is more interdisciplinary.

The second thing is that IT or development departments may be freed from an overload of work if citizen developers are able to build tools for automation in their own areas.

Finally, companies will be able to save money by relying on these tools and citizen developers instead of having an oversized IT department, where the company spends valuable resources while not making the most of the developers capabilities as they will be busy with everyday tasks that end up consuming their days.

And this is not only beneficial for the companies, but for the employees themselves as well. Citizen developers and people looking to acquire these skills are sought by companies for the reasons just mentioned above. So if you want to have a competitive advantage over your peers, learning how to use a No-Code tool or two might be what gets you hired.

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Software development is no longer a niche skill. Citizen developers are here to stay and they're bringing value for companies. The next Facebook, after all, might not be created by a company like Microsoft or Google; it might just come from someone from the marketing department of a fashion startup. Who knows?


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