The rise of the citizen developer in the pandemic economy - how low-code and no-code made a difference

Profile picture for user Nayaki Nayyar By Nayaki Nayyar May 26, 2021 Audio mode
Summary:
Citizen developers aren't a new concept - but their role is expanding. Nayaki Nayyar at Ivanti outlines how to empower citizen developers to make the most of low-code and no-code tools.

Image of a laptop with the word create on the shift key
(Image by www_slon_pics from Pixabay )

About a year ago, we witnessed a rapid shift in the way we do business. Organizations across the country transitioned their workforces to operate in remote environments. IT teams had to pivot to deploy digital transformation initiatives at warp speed. With this shift, we also saw employees across industries begin to take on new, tech-focused tasks on top of what they were already doing, to ensure business continuity. While the hours were long and the future remained uncertain, a movement arose from the DIY, nimble, teamwork mentality — citizen developers.

By now, we've probably all heard of citizen developers — and no, the role is not new, but it has gained momentum. Software engineers and developers have limited bandwidth. We need to empower those without technical backgrounds to build user-friendly products, allowing software applications to be quickly developed. We need a lower burden on overworked technical teams and scarce budgets.

Low-code and no-code — the tools of the citizen developer

Low-code and no-code development is thriving. The ease of use, accessibility, automation of repetitive tasks, fast implementation, and lower costs — all are attractive benefits to companies at a time when resources are scarce. Enterprise IT teams have turned to low-code and no-code environments for survival. Those that already had implemented these platforms are able to leverage them as a pathway to digital maturity sooner, reducing or eliminating the time-consuming hand-coding that is generally required. For example, the largest and most complex voting jurisdiction in the United States leveraged a low-code ITSM solution to build out a new digital-based chain of custody process to support thousands of new devices added as part of the Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) initiative, and to streamline incident management across 1,000 voting centers. This new system helped provide expanded accessibility and voting options for over 5.5 million registered voters in 2020. Citizen developers leveraging these tools can create and implement solutions to address everything from email, process automation, employee engagement applications, IT service desk help, and more. Citizen developers are making an impact using low-code and no-code platforms today in companies you would least expect.

No-code in action

Let's take a look at productivity, employee satisfaction, and efficiency. All three of these areas have become top of mind for leadership this past year.

Operating a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) franchise with nearly 1000 locations is no simple task, especially for IT service desk teams. With 15 staff members managing a service desk and 200 calls filtering in per day, a team can quickly become taxed, behind, and overwhelmed. Working from a legacy service desk tool may ‘work,' but unfortunately, it can slow down team members and negatively impact efficiency. With a no-code solution in place, teams can customize and reprogram service desk tools to respond and fit the framework needed to avoid backlogs and disruption. Capabilities might include a self-service portal, reporting, and customized dashboard, allowing them to freely navigate the system and configure it to respond efficiently and effectively. These solutions provide relief to the service team, streamline workflow processes, and allow the business to run more seamlessly. At the end of the day, businesses are looking to drive efficiency, provide a better end-user experience, and improve their bottom line.

As advanced use cases for AI emerge within the enterprise, leadership has begun exploring which repetitive tasks can be automated to help simplify workflow processes, including the HR department. For example, the onboarding process of joining a new company — the training, guidelines, and IT setup, etc. — all require a tremendous amount of time. Now, think about what this looks like for a rapidly growing 5,000 employee workforce which has new team members joining daily. The IT and HR teams certainly have their work cut out for them. With a no-code solution, companies can quickly set-up and activate built-in automation options, enabling automation of the repetitive tasks within the onboarding process. Imagine an employee onboarding process that previously took nearly two weeks being completed in four hours? Yes, it is possible.

With the deployment of a no-code platform, several tasks can become automated, granting leadership the ability to reallocate employee responsibilities to more important business functions and reducing developer hiring costs.

The path forward

The long-term benefits of empowering citizen developers stretches far beyond operational efficiency and an enterprise's bottom line. The expertise and use cases are flexible, empowering the workforce to channel their creativity to improve collaboration and transparency. When the world suddenly shifted to a remote workforce a year ago, employees and enterprises sought all of these attributes. They were looking for a way to do more with less, improve workflows and drive collaboration across their dispersed teams. In addition to fostering creativity and collaboration, low-code or no-code platforms offer several other benefits, including workflow and business process automation, optimization, customized applications, data management, and an innovation-focused culture — all key benefits that are quickly becoming top-of-mind for leadership and IT teams within the enterprise.

Deploying a low-code or no-code solution across the enterprise begins with a general analysis of workflows with a holistic view of operations, core strengths, and weaknesses. The next step would be to test platforms, find what works best for your team, budget, and end goal.

As the role of ‘citizen developer' continues to expand, a community is slowly forming where resources and collaboration intersect, empowering those without developer degrees to embark on certification and professional development opportunities. The emergence of low-code and no-code solutions has sparked collaborative communities, fostering innovation and growth.