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Is It Time to Fire All Your Nerds and Geeks?

The Rise of the Citizen Developer!

I have always considered myself to be a charming nerd and a brilliant geek!  Way before it was even considered cool, I am sure!  But, recently, I’ve discovered that there’s a term floating around more and more lately: Citizen Developer.  Fearing that this meant a de-evolution of information technology workers (you know us as nerds and geeks, especially programmer types) I had to wonder what this means to me and to my consulting clients at MadWolf Technologies.  Is this now the time to fire us nerds and geeks and to make way for the Citizen Developer?

So first I had to agree, at least to myself, what is a Citizen Developer?  While it’s on the cusp of becoming a more mainstream phrase, its meaning has yet to become widespread, and that’s a shame because I strongly believe that it describes a person with fantastic potential. This is the singular person who could have the capability to grow an organization’s ability to do its business.   

If citizens are people (plain and simple), and developers are also citizens, then what is the real difference?  Well, based on my own personal professional experience - developers know varying degrees of coding language and typically require Jolt to operate (I’ve probably just dated myself with that Jolt reference).

So then, how best to define the Citizen Developer- this is an exciting new role because they don’t believe coding knowledge should limit an organization’s ability to drive success. They enable an organization to run more efficiently and smoothly and they bridge the gap between the non-technical and technical skillsets of a business.  In the past, with SharePoint projects, we have oft referred to this person as the “power user”, “evangelist”, or other similar terms.  But today a Citizen Developer is a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT (whew, for the record, that’s us nerds and geeks). In the past, end-user application development has typically been limited to single-user or workgroup solutions built with tools like Microsoft Excel and Access. So, this new Citizen Developer refers to an end user who creates new applications or programs.  In a general sense, this developer is not a professional developer who is paid to code applications, but is instead someone who uses the tools available to him/her for building applications that his/her team can or will use during their work.  Company employees who are now a Citizen Developer who may not have specific programming credentials can now participate in developing applications or products within their company. 

My rationale today is that a formal computer science degree may be less valuable than in the past and that new tools like cloud services and code abstraction platforms will allow Citizen Developers to do more "programming on the fly," where they create applications. 

I know, you’re wondering: how can I become a Citizen Developer (or promote a member of my team)? Luckily, the team here at MadWolf Technologies sees that software development can be carried out by almost anyone with only a little technical know-how. Me and my team (Process Automation Consulting) at MadWolf Technologies is seeing an unleashing of a new generation of business coder, along with a matching wave of applications and tools that solve long-neglected problems in the enterprise.
I’m not sure which came first – the chicken or the egg, err, in this case the tools or the Citizen Developer, but there is also little doubt in my thinking that an intriguing “gray zone” has emerged with the rising popularity of so-called ‘low code” platforms. I believe that the success of these tools appears to lie in powerful yet supremely simple models based on event processing and data flow, that are easy for almost anyone to understand, and don't require actual coding.  I have seen that typical business scenarios can typically be developed into a working production software solution in just a few minutes or hours today using low code tools, something that might take days or weeks to obtain via the traditional route.  Yes, this may very well spell the end of the need for us nerds and geeks in the corporate environment!  Now, with the right platform, the business can take the lead in solution development – with the Citizen Developer.

The argument here is that there are thousands of such point needs not being met in the typical organization and that low code tools can actively turn the average business user into Citizen Developers, with perhaps just a little assistance from us nerds and geeks to check that that the new application is built logically, as well as making sure it's managed, supported, and governed.  Oh hey, we are still needed!

For those still unsure this trend has legs, I'd advise taking a look at the emerging case studies and industry examples.  In fact, the Process Automation Consulting team at MadWolf Technologies believes so strongly in the Citizen Developer that we have created strong business relationships with many of the very tools that your Citizen Developer will need.

Reach out to the P.A.C. team at MadWolf Technologies and ask how our nerds and geeks (or mad wolves) can help you and your Citizen Developer today!