DIY app builders will create their own personalised business apps beyond the control of the IT department
We’ve had the ‘citizen journalist’, blogging from war zones or capturing breaking news on their cameraphone. Now step forward the ‘citizen developer’ – an individual set to play an increasingly important role in creating business apps, according to analyst house Gartner.
Gartner defines a citizen developer as a user working outside the scope of enterprise IT and its governance who creates new business apps for others to use either from scratch or by mashing up and building on various existing services.
By 2014, it predicts citizen developers will build at least a quarter of new business applications, helping to meet the needs of end users and freeing up IT resources in the process.
The analyst reckons the rise of citizen developers is good news for the IT department as it will free up in-house techies to work on projects they’ve previously been too busy to get round to.
Eric Knipp, senior research analyst at Gartner, said the rise of the citizen developer would enable the IT department to focus on deeper architectural concerns.
Knipp claims factors that are encouraging users to become developers include their insatiable desire for personalisation of services – meaning they are turning developer in order to tailor services to their taste and preferences. Cloud computing is another important factor as it means developers no longer have to be inside the enterprise to get access to computing resources and infrastructure, Gartner added.
Mash-up tools, better developer tools and the rise of ‘digital natives’ who expect technology to ‘just work’ are also giving the citizen developer movement a leg up, Knipp said.
However he warned that organisations should not get complacent and expect citizen developers to do everything. Instead IT departments need to differentiate between the types of apps they can afford to let go and those they must maintain and manage more formally.
“The bottom line lies in encouraging citizen developers to take on application development projects that free up IT resources to work on more complex problems,” Knipp said in a statement.
“However, complex distributed applications and low-level, fine-grained developer decisions will remain in the hands of IT, while line-of-business applications will likely fit between the two and need to be carefully managed.”
He added that organisations should also establish a set of rules to govern and aid citizen developers’ technical efforts – such as criteria for permissible products and an accessible development environment.
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