Exploring Tech Trends 2024 - The Rise of the Citizen Developers
In the second of our tech trends series, our CTO for Business Applications, David Small, explores the rising trend of citizen developers. He shares the reasons behind the shift away from exclusively relying on traditional software developers, especially for businesses striving to maintain agility. In this article, David explores:
- Rise of Citizen Developers
- Strategic Power Platform CoE (Centre of Exellence)
- Microsoft’s Low Code Power Platform
- Fusion Teams for Digital Transformation
- Benefits of Citizen Development and Fusion Teams
- Best Practices for Fusion Teams Implementation
- Citizen Development Case Study
In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, the concept of citizen developers is revolutionising how organisations approach software development. These are end-users within your company who can create new business applications when provided with the right tools and oversight. For this purpose, users leverage low-code platforms, sanctioned by the IT department. Low-code platforms typically allow business users without any knowledge of how coding works to address their own development needs.
An overwhelming 89% of CIOs and IT professionals affirm the effectiveness of a low-code approach in enhancing efficiency. Looking ahead, Gartner predicts a significant shift in the landscape, anticipating that by 2026, developers outside formal IT departments will constitute a minimum of 80% of the user base for low-code development tools—an increase from the 60% reported in 2021.
Microsoft Low Code Power Platform
Microsoft Power Platform stands as a beacon in this transformative era. It encompasses a suite of tools – Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Microsoft Copilot Studio (formerly Power Virtual Agents). These tools empower users to analyse data, build solutions, automate processes, and create virtual agents with minimal coding experience.
Innovate with Governance
The purpose of a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Microsoft Power Platform is to drive organisational innovation and governance, aligning departmental strategies for unified performance. It streamlines automation processes, manages project lifecycles, and ensures compliance and efficiency, thereby significantly enhancing the organisation’s operational effectiveness and return on investment.
Amidst this backdrop, the concept of Fusion Teams is gaining traction. Fusion Teams are multidisciplinary groups blending professionals and citizen developers. They collaborate to accelerate digital transformation, leveraging the diverse skill sets of both technical and non-technical members.
Citizen Development: The Benefits
Working with companies that have embraced Citizen Development and Fusion Teams, there are many benefits:
- Accelerated Innovation: Citizen developers can rapidly prototype and deploy solutions, leading to quicker innovation cycles.
- Reduced IT Burden: With citizen developers taking on more development tasks, IT teams can focus on more complex, strategic initiatives.
- Democratised Technology: Power Platform democratises technology, making it accessible to a broader range of employees, thus fostering a more inclusive digital workplace.
- Enhanced Collaboration: Fusion Teams facilitate better communication and collaboration between IT and other business units.
Best Practices for Citizen Development
Best Practices for Implementing Fusion Teams with Power Platform include:
- Clear Governance: Establish clear guidelines and governance models to manage the balance between innovation and control. A Power Platform Centre of Excellence can help with setting the standards across multiple company divisions with separate Fusion Teams.
- Training and Support: Invest in training resources to empower citizen developers and ensure they have the necessary support. Microsoft Learn free learning paths are generally the best asset for this with progress tracking and knowledge checks throughout.
- Cultivate a Collaborative Culture: Encourage a culture of collaboration and continuous learning between IT professionals and citizen developers such as pair programming or peer review.
- Monitor and Measure Success: Regularly monitor the performance and impact of solutions developed by Fusion Teams. The Power Platform Centre of Excellence starter kit can be installed to give a single view of all the business applications across Power Platform and Dynamics 365 environments.
Citizen Development: Mini Case Study
Several organisations have successfully implemented Fusion Teams using Microsoft Power Platform. For instance, a Financial Services company used Power Platform to streamline broker onboarding and management, significantly reducing manual errors and improving efficiency. The citizen developers’ business knowledge and the low code platform accelerated the solution to meet the highest priority business problems and increase user adoption due to the nature of the rollout by business users, for business users.
In my opinion, the collaboration and fusion of IT professionals and citizen developers through platforms like Microsoft Power Platform is an imperative in a rapidly digital world. This collaborative approach promises a more democratised, efficient, and innovative future in software development, harnessing the collective strengths of diverse teams. As organisations continue to embrace this model, the potential for transformative change is boundless.
CTO, Business Applications
Telefónica Tech UK&I