Everyday People Writing Code
Gartner defines this evolving category as “a user who creates new business applications for consumption by other using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT”.
The reality is that a lot of this citizen development fits in the same functional areas that I call “rogue IT” and “renegade data stores” ; superuser types that may have a degree of expertise in the IT field, but lack complete understanding of the complexities of not only creating, but managing, supporting, and securing information technology assets. Often this is done in a vacuum, without IT’s concurrence, or guidance/alignment with current strategic direction.
Collectively these activities potentially fall back on the lap of IT to fix, manage, support and secure, many of are “islands of automation” without consideration for integration into the rest of the corporate environment. This creates a lot of unplanned (and unbudgeted) work, detracting from the planned work, and creating a huge unfunded liability for a company.
Compounding the Situation
As a result of the increased workload, re-engineering, retrofitting, and enhancing the un-engineered outside-of-IT developed environments, IT has become less and less responsive to business needs - a vicious circle. Hence the rise of not only the citizen developer, but the new roles at the top of the fod chain.
Adding to the confusion: Chief Digital Officer and Chief Marketing Officer
These new roles are spending more in IT - as of 2014 - than IT does. This situation exists, partially due to the need to support the less-than-ideal developments that have occurred outside of IT. And it is not just application development, but it is outside software-as-a-service - things like SalesForce. Many of these outside products seems great on features, but the [in]ability to integrate them into existing workflows and enterprise environments, create more unfunded, non-value-added work, further reinforcing the vicious cycle, and driving up costs.
Is “citizen developer” a bad thing? Yes and no; it all depends on how you, as an organization, design, plan, manage, control, and support these new developers. Often it takes a great deal of existing resource to educate the citizen developer on the vast myriad of attributes that goes into moving from a personal computing platform, to a supported, secure, integrated corporate computing asset. On the other hand, the oft-neglected-by-IT business user is just striving to create the tools they need, that IT has not be responsive in providing.
It is an evolving area, where IT needs to do a far better job of creating that business value, and partnering with the business users.