No-code, low-code tools for helping people without a technical background write mobile apps are proliferating in enterprises, leading to the rise of so-called “citizen developers” – business analysts and domain experts who develop mobile apps without the help of IT. The tools have helped businesses roll out mobile apps quickly, cut costs, and ensure that the apps are useful to the greatest number of users.
Gartner estimates that by 2018 more than half of all B2E mobile apps won’t be built by IT or by traditional developers – instead, they’ll be written by enterprise business analysts and citizen developers using the software, which is also referred to rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools.
But there’s evidence that IT and other market forces are trying to hold back no-code, low-code development tools, according to an article in Forbes by industry analyst Jason Bloomberg and president of Intellyx. He writes that some people view the tools as “too disruptive – so disruptive, in fact, that many different constituencies are resisting, each one sticking its thumb in the dike, hoping to hold back the ocean.”
Chief among those trying to hold back no-code, low-code development tools, he says, are consultants, “especially the big system integrators, whose business model depends upon keeping throngs of junior developers busy and billable.” If citizen developers can write apps themselves, there’s no need for high-priced consultants.
Some people in IT aren’t happy with the tools, either, he adds. He says: “IT departments are also pushing back, often with a vengeance. Not only do the various denizens in IT fear for their jobs, but Low-Code/No-Code also threatens their credibility. After all, IT has been telling business stakeholders for years that the six month/million dollar plan is the only way to build enterprise software.”
Bloomberg says, though, that RMAD tools can’t be held back because digital transformation is changing the way that companies operate and run. He says enterprises “can be even more successful with their digital transformations if they do away with hand-coding altogether, adopting Low-Code/No-Code across their organizations instead.”
Bloomberg’s portrayal of IT is perhaps a little harsh, though. As I’ve written in my blog post, “Why IT Should Embrace Citizen Developers,” many IT departments have embraced RMAD. One is Isaac Sacolick, global CIO and managing director at Greenwich Associates. A Computerworld article says about him: “Sacolick says CIOs should consider deploying a low-code mobile app development platform, creating standard APIs into backend systems for would-be programmers to use, and identifying and establishing agreements with external development partners as needed.”
If you’re interested in learning more about citizen developers, download Alpha Software’s white paper, “Democratizing App Development by Empowering Citizen Developers.” It has the latest industry data, techniques and success stories.