So what is a citizen developer anyway? Is the mindset of a citizen developer critical to innovation? Gartner says, a citizen developer is “a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others, using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT” (Information Technology). Okay. That seems pretty clear. As I read this definition, it became apparent that a citizen developer is a business user rather than a full-time, professional software developer. Business users not only can identify business challenges they’re currently experiencing, but can now—through the use of no-code software platforms—actually build applications to solve these problems themselves!
Collaborative Workspaces and Citizen Development
The very real shift we have all seen in digital, collaborative workplaces over the last few years has really accelerated in the past year. So how does this affect the citizen developer? It is evident that organizations need to be able to accommodate citizen development if they expect to meet their own goals. However, a stigma still exists regarding the citizen developer mindset because the common narrative has been that a citizen developer is some sort of rogue individual—or group of individuals—who wants to demolish any sense of governance that would dare to tell them what they can and cannot do. This romantic view of business anarchy is simply not true. For the most part, the citizen-developer mindset requires working within the framework of an organization to get work done faster, not working outside of or against the organization.
It is true that, in a traditional business organization, many view the IT group as a hurdle to overcome at best or a hard stop at worst, which continually blocks the ability of the business to accomplish their goals and actually get stuff done. In the end, people just want to complete their work as simply as possible. However, this is not always possible in such a business organization for very good reason that IT needs to have some control over the tools and processes the organization uses. IT is responsible for crafting and deploying policies that ensure people use the applications and platforms they’ve chosen for the organization, as well as for protecting the organization from security threats and other liabilities.