No-code app platform / 8 min read

How citizen developers are transforming businesses around the world

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By Marion / March 31, 2023

In today's fast-paced business world, the need for digital transformation has become increasingly important. However, traditional software development methods can be time-consuming and expensive, and businesses are looking for ways to speed up the process. This is where citizen developers come in.

The old and the new way

A citizen developer is a non-professional developer who builds software applications using low-code or no-code platforms. These platforms require little or no programming knowledge, allowing anyone with a basic understanding of business processes to create applications. Citizen developers are typically business users who have identified a need for an application and have taken the initiative to build it themselves.

The concept of citizen developers is not new, but it has gained popularity in recent years due to the availability of low-code and no-code platforms. These platforms provide a simple and intuitive way for users to create applications without needing to understand complex programming languages.

How Citizen Developers are Transforming Businesses

Citizen developers are transforming businesses in several ways. Firstly, they are increasing productivity by allowing business users to create applications that streamline their workflows. This reduces the time and effort required to complete tasks, freeing up resources for other projects.

Secondly, citizen developers are improving efficiency by providing solutions to problems that may have been overlooked by IT departments. Business users are often better equipped to identify these problems as they are the ones using the systems on a daily basis. By empowering business users to create their own solutions, businesses can address these issues quickly and efficiently.

Finally, citizen developers are saving businesses money by reducing the need for IT resources. Traditional software development can be expensive, and businesses often need to hire dedicated developers to build custom applications. Citizen developers, on the other hand, can build their own applications without needing extensive IT resources.

Benefits of cititzen developers

Benefits of Citizen Developers 

Increased Productivity

Citizen developers are a valuable resource for businesses that want to increase productivity. These developers are able to build custom applications that streamline workflows and automate tedious tasks. By doing so, they free up time and resources for other projects that require more attention.

For instance, financial institutions are increasingly turning to citizen developers to automate manual processes, such as data entry and report generation. This helps banks and other institutions to free up their human resources, thereby boosting productivity levels and minimizing errors.

Improved Efficiency

In addition to increasing productivity, citizen developers can also improve efficiency within a business. By building custom applications, they can help streamline complex business processes that can be difficult to manage with off-the-shelf solutions. Citizen developers are able to tailor applications to meet the specific needs of the business, ensuring that they are efficient and effective.

One such example is that of Toyota, which used citizen developers to build an application that tracks the progress of car parts as they move through the manufacturing process. By streamlining the tracking process, Toyota was able to reduce the amount of time required to build a car, improving the efficiency of its operations.

Cost Savings

cost savingsOne of the most significant benefits of citizen developers is the cost savings they can provide. T

raditional software development can be costly, requiring dedicated developers, time, and resources.

Citizen developers, on the other hand, are able to build custom applications without needing extensive IT resources.

In the next section, we will explore some of the challenges that come with using citizen developers.

While the benefits of citizen developers are numerous, there are also some potential risks to be aware of.

Challenges of Citizen Developers 

Security and Compliance

While citizen developers can provide significant benefits to businesses, there are also some challenges that come with their use. One of the most significant challenges is security and compliance. Citizen developers may not have the same level of expertise and training as professional developers, and this can lead to security vulnerabilities and compliance issues.

For example, if a citizen developer builds an application that accesses sensitive data, there is a risk that the data could be compromised if the application is not built securely. This could lead to significant financial and reputational damage for the business.

Quality Assurance

Another challenge of citizen developers is quality assurance. Citizen developers may not have the same level of expertise in testing and debugging as professional developers, which can lead to quality issues in the applications they build. This can result in a poor user experience, or worse, could lead to significant problems with the application's functionality.

For instance, a citizen developer building an e-commerce application may not be aware of all the potential errors that could occur during a transaction. This could lead to problems such as incorrect billing or incorrect order fulfillment, which could harm the customer experience and damage the business's reputation.

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Technical Limitations

Finally, citizen developers may be limited by the technical capabilities of low-code and no-code platforms. While these platforms make it easy to build applications, they may not be able to provide the same level of functionality as custom-built applications. This can limit the scope of the applications that citizen developers are able to build.

For example, a citizen developer building a complex financial application may find that the low-code or no-code platform they are using cannot provide the necessary calculations or integrations required by the application. This can limit the effectiveness of the application and prevent it from meeting the needs of the business.

Examples of Citizen Developers in Action 

a. Amazon

One example of a business using citizen developers is Amazon. In 2017, Amazon introduced a program called Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amplify, which allows developers of all skill levels to build cloud-powered mobile and web applications. AWS Amplify includes a number of features that make it easy for citizen developers to build applications, such as pre-built UI components and integrations with popular third-party services.

b. Microsoft

Another example of a business using citizen developers is Microsoft. Microsoft has a low-code platform called Power Apps that allows anyone to build custom business applications without needing to write code. Power Apps includes a drag-and-drop interface and a variety of pre-built templates and connectors that make it easy for citizen developers to create applications.

Electrolock, a leading manufacturer of industrial adhesive products, faced significant challenges in managing their inventory across multiple locations. To address this issue, Electrolock partnered with Confluent, a Microsoft Gold Partner, to develop a custom inventory management solution using Microsoft Power Apps, Power Automate, and Dataverse.

The solution enabled Electrolock to track inventory levels in real-time, automate ordering and restocking processes, and optimize their supply chain. This resulted in significant improvements in operational efficiency and cost savings.

c. IBM

IBM is another business that has embraced citizen developers. IBM has a low-code platform called IBM Cloud Pak for Applications that allows citizen developers to build custom applications quickly and easily. The platform includes pre-built templates and integrations with popular services such as Slack and Salesforce.


Summary of Benefits and Challenges

In summary, citizen developers are transforming businesses around the world by providing a way to develop and deploy applications quickly and efficiently. The benefits of citizen developers include increased productivity, improved efficiency, cost savings, and greater innovation. However, there are also challenges associated with citizen development, including security and compliance risks, quality assurance concerns, and technical limitations.

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The Impact of Citizen Developers on Businesses

Despite the challenges, the impact of citizen developers on businesses is significant. By empowering non-technical employees to create applications, companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce, foster a culture of innovation, and accelerate digital transformation initiatives. Citizen development can also lead to improved collaboration between business and IT teams, resulting in better alignment and more successful outcomes.

Moreover, citizen development can help companies stay competitive in a rapidly evolving business landscape. By providing the flexibility to respond to changing market conditions and customer demands, citizen developers can help businesses stay agile and adaptive.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, citizen developers are an important and growing trend in the business world. While there are challenges associated with citizen development, the benefits are significant and cannot be ignored. Companies that embrace citizen development can unlock the full potential of their workforce, drive innovation, and stay competitive in a fast-changing market. By leveraging the right tools and strategies, businesses can ensure successful outcomes and reap the benefits of citizen development for years to come.

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