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Citizen Developers will Outnumber Professional Coders in the Future. Here's Why.

Team Kissflow

Updated on 21 Mar 2024 3 min read

Accelerated digital transformation has inspired more organizations to automate workflows and develop powerful future-proof apps. The need for enterprise-grade applications to transform operations has been drastically growing. With this comes an ever-increasing demand for apps.

In fact, by 2023, over 500 million apps will be developed. But IT departments with professional coders cannot meet this demand because of other pressing priorities, rising software developer salaries, a shortage of skilled staff, and expensive resources.

Enter citizen developers…

Citizen development improves productivity and effectiveness by speeding up app development and reducing costs. About 60%[2] of all apps of all applications are developed outside the IT department. That's why there may be more citizen developers than professional coders in the future.

Why the rise of citizen developers?

IT departments are overburdened with many software projects constantly behind schedule and an increasing IT ticket backlog. IT departments are struggling to match the growing demand for business apps, which strains their resources and slows down app development.

When IT departments cannot deliver solutions on time, work stalls. Leveraging your non-technical workforce decreases the load on IT, generates apps faster and lowers the cost of developing apps.

How citizen developers differ from professional coders

Citizen developers are non-IT business users who create custom applications with little to no coding knowledge or experience. They build simple to complex business apps with tools such as low-code/no-code development platforms sanctioned by corporate IT.

A professional developer is a person who creates, maintains, and upgrades commercial-grade software with written code while citizen developers use low-code/no-code platforms with simple UI to create IT solutions without coding.

They’re well-versed in their process, possess deeper knowledge about their operations, and are more likely to build software that reflects user needs. Professional developers have in-depth knowledge of programming and can easily use complex programs requiring highly-skilled coding infrastructure.

How low-code/no-code platforms empower citizen developers

Low-code/no-code platform's

  • pre-built modules,
  • drag-and-drop functionalities,
  • intuitive UI, and
  • simple integration features enable citizen developers to build apps quickly.

This approach streamlines communication, allowing citizen developers to create custom apps and collaborate more freely across departments. Low-code/no-code platforms also give your company the metrics it needs to measure progress and safely improve its business operations.

How citizen developers shape the app development sphere

Consumers are demanding more digital interactions across platforms, thus increasing the need for applications. Citizen developers using low-code/no-code platforms can build applications up to 10-times[3] faster. They take pressure off IT personnel and support IT departments to digitize organizations and modernize their IT infrastructure.

Citizen developers bring unique insight, expertise, and a fresh approach to the application development process. They respond directly and agilely to changing business needs and market requirements which increases company competency, business productivity, and operational efficiency.

Citizen developers also expand your company’s pool of developers and maximize existing resources. By eliminating existing IT bottlenecks, citizen developers enable your company to pivot quickly to meet new demands or overcome challenges. Low-code/no-code app development platforms are more affordable than purchasing third-party applications, hiring skilled developers, or outsourcing professional developer services.

Reasons for the rise of citizen developers

  • Citizen developers foster greater collaboration between an organization’s departments because employees partner with IT teams to build new functionalities.
  • When skilled business users solve their own problems, they have greater autonomy and improved work satisfaction.
  • Low-code tools are easy to use, with many requiring little to no training. Citizen developers can use these solutions to build applications in days, rather than weeks or months.
  • Citizen developers have unique, hands-on knowledge of specific departmental work processes and business goals, which helps them create more user-friendly apps that streamline business operations.
  • Low-code/no-code platforms enable employees to share tools and resources, thus enhancing organizational transparency. They also eliminate redundancies, lessen security risks, and abolish shadow IT.

Key trends and predictions on the future of citizen developers

  1. 92%[4] of IT leaders are more comfortable with non-IT users developing enterprise apps with proper training and oversight.
  2. Citizen developers have freed up the IT teams in 80%[5] of companies, enabling them to work on higher-level projects.
  3. 82%[6] of organizations face challenges hiring qualified software engineers, so they’re using citizen developers to build and maintain apps.
  4. 79%[7] of businesses build at least one web application a year with citizen developers.
  5. Organizations with empowered citizen developers score 33%[8] higher on innovation measures.
  6. By 2023, active citizen developers in large enterprises will outnumber professional developers by four to one[9].
  7. 80%[10] of companies believe their citizen developers are critical to their business success.

How organizations can empower citizen developers

- Establish structures to govern shadow IT: Encourage citizen developers to use systems, apps, and services only validated and approved by IT.

- Facilitate collaboration between business and IT: Outline responsibilities for citizen developers and IT personnel, then get ongoing support from IT to monitor the application development process.

- Pick a simple and flexible citizen developer platform: Choose a low-code/no-code work platform based on your specific use cases, functionality, and how well the platform integrates with existing IT infrastructure.

- Train citizen developers: As part of your citizen development initiatives, include training on application compliance procedures, data security, and standard workflow protocols.

Jump on the citizen developer bandwagon

You'll soon lose your competitive edge if your organization doesn't have a citizen development program. The future of application development lies with citizen developers. Empowering business strategists to be citizen developers can speed up digital transformation, saving valuable time and money.

A robust and unified Kissflow's citizen development platform has many great features to kickstart your citizen development journey right. The intuitive interface and comprehensive features of the platform help you maximize app development, increase productivity, and reduce expenses.