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Expanding the Ability to make Mobile Apps – with “Citizen App Development”

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Organizations are having business people make Apps – to fast track expanding their presence in the strategically important mobile market.

Much has been said about the emergence of the citizen developer, which Gartner defines as a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. These are typically business analysts or application owners who are tech-savvy but don’t have formal training or extensive experience in traditional software development. The primary driver for the rise of the Citizen Developer is a talent shortage and the need for enterprises to expand their go-to- market capabilities in mobile. There simply aren’t enough skilled mobile developers to satisfy the typical enterprise’s hunger for mobile apps. Plus, with many Apps having a specific purpose or function or providing a basic business service – these Apps are best suited to be developed by business people having the associated domain knowledge. Analyst firms like Gartner have predicted that enterprise mobile demand will outstrip IT’s capacity to deliver by a factor of 5 through 2018, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, one million programming jobs in the U.S. will go unfilled. Cultivating the Citizen Developer community is absolutely essential to delivering mobility at scale since there are not only many more business people than technical people, there is also a qualitative aspect to having Apps made by those who know their domain and understand User expectations from a business perspective.. It’s also important for the organization to get better at Business Innovation by creating and finding the new Mobile Services that matter and scaling them quickly. And failing fast on those new services not getting traction in the market ! This is even more critical when there is a need to do Disruptive Business Innovation with new and different products / services, entry into new markets, changing the business model, etc. – to further expand business opportunities, expand revenue streams, drive change, improve corporate outcomes, etc. Because these are significant advantages is why leveraging Citizen Development is important and becoming a strategy to meaningfully increase relevance and revenue with the ability to deliver better and faster results for the business.

Mobility and the consumerization of IT have put a new focus on the importance of delivering a great User Experience and the need for enterprises be better at Business Innovation to increase relevance and revenue with Apps. Examples of successful, widely adopted Mobile Apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat all put a premium on delivering an exceptional user experience. Conversely, delivering a poor user experience can negatively impact a consumer app, or any business that needs to deliver enterprise mobile apps. A recent study found that 35% of money is left on the table because of bad UX in e-commerce. Bad UX also impacts the adoption of enterprise-focused mobile apps, thus “leaving money on the table” in terms of productivity, responsiveness to customers, and overall business agility.

Because of this, Citizen Developers have high appeal since they inherently possess qualities to deliver better results and improved user experience since they –

1. Are close to the Business User / Customer

Delivering a high quality UX starts with picking the right use cases. Business analysts and application owners are typically aligned directly to a line of business such as Sales, Field Services, Finance, or Human Resources. As such, they are much closer to the actual end users of apps than central teams of developers are. They can quickly understand how each use case would impact their users and business. They are also motivated and measured on delivering results to the business. Rather than more technology-oriented metrics like project completion and SLAs, they tend to be measured on the adoption of apps and business impact. By thinking about the right use cases and knowing how to relate to Users, Citizen Developers help focus on ” Apps that matter “, plus contribute to evolving the Apps over time to further increase value to the User and organization appeal in the market.

2. Better understand the End Users

In managing the existing business applications that have supported each line of business, Citizen Developers have a better understanding of how end users interact with those applications. In many cases, they are in the front lines in supporting those end users when issues arise. As such, Citizen Developers are better positioned to understand how to deliver functionality through an app that would directly cater to end users.

3. Are more familiar with the Business Operations and Applications

Citizen Developers also better understand the nuances and complexities of how the organizations works – internally, with Partners and in serving Customers. This includes the functionality, workflows, and business logic of business applications. They also tend to have the critical understanding of how the enterprise applications have been customized. One of the most common reasons mobility projects go sideways is by underestimating the effort that is involved in maintaining or recreating all the business logic and customizations inherent in business applications. By allowing Citizen Developers to directly deliver apps, organizations can better ensure that the business processes and rules stay intact. This is important to realizing acceptance of Mobile Services by Users, achieving corporate goals, and minimizing the risks associated with change.

4. Remove the need to Translate Requirements

Many software defects occur in the process of translating requirements to development teams, which leads to added cost and project delays. By turning the ones writing requirements into the ones that actually deliver the apps, organizations can ensure that apps are delivered faster and according to the needs of the business.

5. Reduce Delivery Time and Costs

Another key benefit of Citizen Developers is that they are already employed within your organization today. Recruiting and hiring a new mobile developer can often take months and can be costly. The average pay of a mobile app developer averages around $72,000 nationwide, with Silicon Valley salaries for mobile developers hovering around $115,000 a year. Outsourcing a mobile developer or hiring a contractor can be even more expensive. With average enterprise mobile apps taking more than 200 hours to build, compounded by rates of $45 – $75 an hour, a single app could cost your company over $150,000. As business leaders try to quickly usher their organization into the mobile era, these high costs and long wait time are simply not feasible. A Citizen Developer can be a game changer for the organization – because they are already know the business and can deliver quality results – quickly and economically.

Citizen and Technical App Developer Summary

Recognizing the advantages with Citizen Developers in making and delivering apps for the business, there is also a need experienced technical App Developers. This is because there is a need for an IT foundation with various technical considerations associated with information access, system integration, security, system standards and practices, compliance, etc. – that is needed for Citizen Developers to deliver apps. Additionally, central IT teams need to ensure Citizen Developers operate within frameworks that support system maintainability and scalability.

There is also the consideration for Apps that need to be built from the ground up by an IT development team or the App needs to perform many complex internal operations or provide functions needing technical knowledge and prowess (a “full stack” implementation).

However, when enabled with the right Mobile Development Platform designed for use by business people, Citizen Developers can meaningfully improve business outcomes and be a strategic asset in the delivery of new Mobile Services. By tapping into the inherent skillsets and knowledge of business people, organizations can effectively deliver business-critical apps at much greater scale, much faster, and at significantly lower cost than has been historically the case.

Aug 22, 2017 – CAIL – Mobile Industry commentary

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