No-code and low-code application development platforms are clearly catching on. Leading research firm, Gartner, predicts that “by 2024, low-code application platforms will be responsible for 65 per cent of all application development activity.” Much of the demand is driven by so-called citizen developers who are using rapid application development (RAD) tools like these to build the software they need to do their jobs, despite having little or no coding experience.
The burning question for CIOs here, beyond whether to support no-code platform use across the business, is should IT take control? Should it drive things so that no-code app development becomes a legitimate and well-governed process for digital advancement?
Software demand outweighs supply
Before we get into the how, we need to address the question of why. Why would IT want to support non-professional developers anyway? Don’t IT teams want to build the solutions themselves? Simply put, application and convenience culture has changed the way consumers expect to interact with organisations. Modern consumers no longer want to wait in lines or manually fill out forms. Everything needs to be online (even within the business itself) which means everything has to have software behind it.
Despite no-code platforms allowing developers to build applications up to eight times faster than with traditional coding, the demand for software continues to out-scale the manpower available within IT. Since full-stack developers are an increasingly expensive resource, more IT departments are putting structures in place to enable effective collaboration with citizen developers.
Shaping citizen developers into a resource
As those responsible for safeguarding the organisation’s software network, IT professionals need to be in complete control of citizen development projects. That doesn’t mean they’re expected to micromanage tasks but should have the opportunity to establish a governance structure and guidelines for working together. Ultimately, their role is to guide, train and empower citizen developers, to minimise the risk of shadow IT or security breaches.
Sanctioning centralised tools for collaboration
Citizen developers need tooling if they’re going to build applications and innovate within the organisation. However, spreading their projects over multiple platforms is impossible to maintain and will eventually lead to shadow IT.
Thankfully, no-code platforms like Betty Blocks are entirely web-based, multi-user systems, which give IT full access to every application or project. From a centralised platform, every developer in the organisation can easily share information, provide assistance where needed, and easily perform maintenance.
Onboarding business users
While citizen developers understand how to approach core business or process-related problems, building high-quality software is a nuanced process. No-code platforms help by eliminating the coding knowledge needed, but general best-practices need to be passed down by professional developers.
Teaching citizen developers how to approach data models, relational data, and how to securely connect with business data goes a long way towards improving the overall quality of business-built applications. IT should continuously share skills and knowledge to help citizen developers grow. The idea of training isn’t to replace IT, but rather to give professional developers extra peace of mind.
Embrace no-code platforms in IT
According to Forrester Research, the LCAP (low-code application platform) market is predicted to become a 21 billion dollar industry by 2022. Since its introduction, RAD technology has been rapidly evolving beyond simple drag-and-drop development tools. Most modern no-code platforms, like Betty Blocks, incorporate professional development tools and techniques to fully customise applications.
In short, bringing a no-code platform into the company doesn’t just enable faster development IT professionals, but accelerates digital transformation throughout the entire organisation.
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