Low-code development tools and rapid mobile app development (RMAD) have given people with little technical expertise the ability to write powerful mobile apps. That’s led to an explosion of mobile apps in the enterprise written outside of IT’s control by so-called “citizen developers.” Gartner estimates that by 2018 more than half of all B2E mobile apps won’t be built by IT or by traditional developers – instead, they’ll be written by enterprise business analysts and citizen developers using RMAD tools.
That puts IT in a quandary. They’ve long been tasked with enforcing enterprise-wide technology standards, so the impulse of many in IT is to squash the citizen-developer movement. They consider apps written outside of their control as app development gone rogue.
But a Computerworld article, “How CIOs cope when mobile app development goes rogue,” shows that rather than fight against citizen developers, IT should embrace them. And citizen developers should, in turn, use the tools and help IT can offer.
Embracing Citizen Developers and Low-Code Mobile App Development
“CIOs need to embrace this because it’s potentially a competitive advantage,” Gartner analyst Katherine Lord told the magazine. “CIOs need to stop seeing it as a threat and shift control. It’s OK to empower the business.”
Gartner analyst Jason Wong agreed, but added that IT has a role to play as well. “Business units wanting to build applications can be a positive thing, because it shows that organizations are forward-thinking and using mobile to innovate and transform their business,” he said. “But IT has to be involved.”
The magazine points to one CIO who has embraced the citizen developer movement, Isaac Sacolick, global CIO and managing director at Greenwich Associates, which offers market intelligence and advisory services for the financial industry. Computerworld notes, “Sacolick says CIOs should consider deploying a low-code mobile app development platform, creating standard APIs into backend systems for would-be programmers to use, and identifying and establishing agreements with external development partners as needed.”
That way, IT still retains control over app development, but empowers business units to write their own. Along those lines, Wong says, “IT is going to need to put in place an architecture and set of standards and policies and governance that help facilitate decentralization and democratic mobile app development without being a bottleneck.”
Ken Russo, former director of enterprise architecture at Independence Blue Cross took this approach when he was at Blue Cross, the magazine says, and it worked well.
“You build relationships and the organization builds confidence in you,” he told the magazine. “After four years of doing this, we’ve got a really good reputation, so when there’s a need in the mobile space, they know to come to us.”
To read why many people believe citizen developers and rapid mobile app development are the future of mobile, click here.