The Citzen Developer Revolution

Low-Code / No-Code is a technological trend that is attracting attention in every B2B sector [TechCrunch, Inc, Forbes, Ascend.io]. This disruptive technology brings automation to the tech stack (UI, Infrastructure and Data Science), empowering developers to accelerate their productivity in the creation of key business solutions.

However, it is important to note that the term “developer” is a poor choice of terminology in this space. Up to this point in time, we all have thought that being a “developer” meant being an  “employee”: trained individuals (either through personal development or formal education) who know about algorithms, data structures, and UI creation. These developers were company technologists: programmers or engineers.

However, with Low-Code / No-Code making development more accessible – three distinct categories of developers have emerged. Indeed, the categories are not completely distinct, rather these new developers exist on a spectrum. Of key importance, not all low-code / no-code solutions are suitable for all of these new developers.

The Citzen Developer Revolution

Professional Developers

This is what we all think of as a CLASSIC developer – an engineer in training and practice. Low-Code / No-Code solutions in infrastructure, schemas analytics and process builders (hooking up services) are vital and useful. These are solutions that automate or simplify the burden of detailed bookkeeping, complex interconnectivity, or batch processing.

The Citzen Developer Revolution

Citizen Developers

This is a product owner, a team leader, product manager, VP or even someone in IT. A person who intimately understands the use-case to be solved but doesn’t have the technical skills (design or engineering) or the time/budget to create the solution.

citizen-developer… non-IT professionals gaining access to tools and expert systems that empower them to exploit and apply specialized skills beyond their own expertise and training

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

For them, a Low-Code / No-Code solution can translate their vision into reality, converting end-user objectives into attractive UI, effective user workflows, and production-grade front-end code.

[“citizen data scientists” Gartner 1, “citizen programmers” Gartner 2]

The Citzen Developer Revolution

Personal Developers

This is the average person who wants to create a small application to manage and organize a simple process or workflow. Low-Code / No-Code technologies for these users are often built on top of a very simple “spreadsheet” data source, and allows the Personal developer to drag and drop basic display elements (images and text) and form fields to design a UI for web or mobile applications. While the complexity of the realized application is limited, for many Personal developers – so is the complexity of their tasks.

What is so exciting about the Citizen developer is that they represent an unrealized resource for most companies. These are individuals who truly know the ins-and-outs of the customer. Consider a product manager who has spent months talking to and engaging with customers: they know their customer’s pain-points. On the other hand, imagine the IT team member who knows how the company works and how to lead employees to the insights and actions they need to be productive. Even a Business Consultant can look at the client and envision an ideal solution to help their client excel.

Before they were empowered, the Citizen developers’ vision for a solution was all too often left unrealized as they lacked the skills (engineering, UI design, or workflow design) to create a working system. Even with WYSIWYG tools, their goals are left unfulfilled – as these experts do not know what to drag and where to drag it to. They often have limited resources (time, money and team-members), which are already committed to other initiatives. 

But now imagine what would happen if each of them could, in minutes our hours, express their vision for a product; what data their end-user needs to see (the trend of a patient’s blood pressure), the objectives needing to be accomplished (monitor a feed of network events), and the actions to be taken (suspend a financial account’s future transactions).  Suddenly a huge number of the company employees can create actionable products – validating and testing ideas, and perhaps most importantly, taking work off the plate of the overburdened Professional developers – allowing them to focus on more critical (and interesting) work that require their specialized skills.

The Citizen developer is the future of every B2B company. And the Citizen developer is driving the future of this high-value category of Low-Code / No-Code technologies.

Cover Image by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash