Citizen developers on the rise says Gartner

One quarter of new business applications will be created by end users by 2014

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Citizen developers on the rise says Gartner Citizen developers are increasingly creating their own business applications, says Gartner.
By  Mark Sutton Published  July 17, 2011

Gartner expects up to one quarter of all new business applications to be created by ‘citizen developers' by 2014.

Citizen developers are end users that create their own applications for use in their organisations, using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. The trend is being driven by a number of factors, including limited IT budgets, simplification of development procedures, more tech-savvy work force and cloud computing.

Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner commented: "End-user application development (EUAD) is nothing new, but the risks and opportunities it presents have become much greater in recent years. In the past, EUAD posed limited risks to the organization because it was typically limited to a single user or workgroup. However, end users can now build departmental, enterprise and even public applications. While this change enables organizations to empower end users and releases IT resources, it also heightens the risks of EUAD."

Companies need to be aware of their citizen developers, and introduce programmes to support them, Gartner says. The unmanaged EUAD poses risks to companies such as data and process integrity and security vulnerabilities, which the analyst company believes will hit at least one third of enterprises that don't put formalized citizen developer governance policies in place.

Organisations should look to introduce ‘just-enough' governance, along with education around best practices, application lifecycle management and security.

"EUAD is being transformed by several converging forces, including changing workforce demographics, the mass customization and maturation of service-oriented architecture, simplified tools for new development and the power of cloud computing for delivering IT capabilities to end users with no IT assistance," said Eric Knipp, research director at Gartner. "Fighting these forces is a losing battle, but a citizen developer program can reduce the risks and unlock potential in EUAD.

"If end-user developers are ignored, and they build applications without help or knowledge from the IT organization, then there is a real risk that they will fail miserably and create an unplanned burden for IT. When an application is mission-critical - as often is the case with unmonitored tools used in business areas - the pain for the IT staff is even more acute. IT leaders must be proactive in managing citizen developer initiatives by providing tools that enable transparency in monitoring, change control and analytics. Even if IT is not at the wheel, it should keep a close eye on the dashboard," he said.

Finley added: "A citizen developer support program that includes sanctioned platforms, just-enough governance, access to enterprise services, and IT guidance and monitoring can create a safe environment for end-user AD. By engaging with end users and helping them help themselves, IT can accelerate the exploitation of new technology and help end users create competitive advantage and build closer links with their business peers, while managing the risks of EUAD."

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