In its 2023 study Forrester outlined the value of citizen development:
“What could your organization do with 25%, 50%, or 150% more developers? What new applications can be developed, what continuous improvements can be made, what business risks and opportunities can be quickly addressed, and—most importantly—what new ideas and opportunities will emerge that never would have otherwise existed?”
We couldn’t agree more.
As the technology landscape continues to advance and change, businesses face new challenges. Industry experts highlight several issues: lack of professional developers, unexplored employee potential, and an increased use of unauthorized IT solutions. In this blog post, we will talk about those challenges more specifically and unveil how citizen development can help you mitigate them. And stay ahead of the curve.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, 80% of technology products and services will be built by those who are not technology professionals. Given the current software developer shortage, it seems reasonable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it takes almost 50% longer to fill technical roles compared to non-technical ones, and the demand for software developers is expected to increase by over 20% between 2021 and 2031. In simple terms, in the near future there won’t be enough professional developers to keep up with the demand for technological solutions and this shortfall will keep growing over time.
Interestingly, another study by Gartner reveals that around 22% of employees have the skills to create technology or analytics capabilities but haven't utilized them in the past 12 months. These untapped technologists possess a range of skills, with the top five being user experience design, cloud services and architecture, data science, coding, and robotic process automation (RPA). Importantly, all of these untapped technologists express the desire to leverage their technology skills effectively. Their main roadblocks are the lack of time, managerial support, and confidence in their solution-building abilities.
Citizen development addresses the ongoing shortage of developers by broadening the developer community to encompass non-coders and business users beyond the IT department. It allows organizations to tap into the untapped potential of employees who want to create technology solutions by helping them to evolve into citizen developers—individuals who understand business processes, identify opportunities for development, and create software applications for themselves or their teams. It also enables the creation of “fusion teams,” where technology and business specialists collaborate and share responsibility for business and technology outcomes.
As employees become more digitally adept, the risk of shadow IT grows. The digital trend is making it easier for employees to find and use apps on their own, bypassing IT processes. Often this results in the use of unauthorized or unapproved software, applications, or services that can cause severe damage to the organization. Damage can include security vulnerabilities, data mismanagement, and regulatory non-compliance.
Embracing citizen development offers a well-regulated alternative to shadow IT. It empowers non-technical employees to create approved solutions, reducing the need for shadow IT and the risks associated with unsanctioned technology usage. Citizen development fosters collaboration, provides oversight, and ensures compliance with IT governance. With centralized platform management and adequate support, employees can rapidly deploy tailored applications, addressing their business needs without resorting to unauthorized tools.
In addition to addressing these challenges, citizen development helps organizations reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, create business opportunities, and meet strategic company goals. For example, thanks to its citizen developers, Amazon’s Risk and Treasury department has automated dozens of financial processes which ultimately saved them 100,000 hours.
Japanese pharmaceutical giant Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, in turn, managed to empower front-line users to automate smaller operations to fulfill the company’s mission: creating hope for all facing illness. With the help of their citizen developers, the company was able to automate 400 workflows and has saved more than 48,800 hours of work to date.
Testimonials from UiPath clients demonstrate that citizen development is leading the path toward a future where every team member contributes to technological progress. That leads to getting more work done, making customers happier, and nurturing a workforce ready to navigate future challenges. Citizen development not only addresses present-day needs, but also shapes a dynamic and adaptable tomorrow where all employees use technology in smart ways.
Join us at UiPath FORWARD VI to further explore how citizen development can benefit your business. During the “How to take ‘citizen development’ from buzzword to reality” session, we will delve into how Amazon, Wesco International, and SOCAR Turkey leverage citizen development to drive better business results, boost employee satisfaction, and stay competitive in the era of automation and AI.
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