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Making IT professionals play nice with low-code developers

Enterprise 34,111 views
Posted Thursday, March 09, 2017 by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

Making IT professionals play nice with low-code developers
With the Department of Labor predicting a shortage of professional developers by 2020, more citizen developers are taking matters into their own hands, building sophisticated enterprise apps with capabilities ranging from task management to automating workflows. 

A recent survey from Appian fielded over 500 Information Technology Decision Makers to understand challenges associated with citizen development and the need for a seamless and sustainable solution. The survey findings revealed that while the growing citizen developer movement is a concern for IT decision makers, many are looking towards technology platforms to manage application development and maintain governance. 

We spoke with Appian CTO and low-code expert, Mike Beckley, to understand these pain points and how to bridge the gap between developers and IT.

ADM: What are the top concerns among IT leaders about citizen developers today?


Beckley: CIOs are worried about application sprawl. Apps built without a unifying platform to govern them confront IT with new security risks, higher maintenance costs, and inconsistent data. Will IT be responsible for rewriting and testing all these apps for every new release of iOS and Android? CIOs are also skeptical that citizen developers are relevant to enterprise digital transformation.

ADM: How can IT manage the risks associated with citizen developers?


Beckley: IT first has to deliver a low-code platform that citizen developers want to use. IT eliminated rogue Wi-Fi access points by delivering good Wi-Fi. The same is true with citizen developers - give them what they want and then IT gets to set the standards, control access, and rationalize DevOps by platform rather than one-by-one across hundreds and thousands of apps.

Our survey findings backed this notion through very powerful stats. It revealed that more than 71% wished their company had an effective technology platform to manage citizen developers, with more than three out of four IT leaders seeing enterprise-grade low-code platforms as the solution.

ADM: What's your definition of a “low-code” platform?


Beckley: A low-code platform provides a visual design environment that allows developers and users to collaborate to build sophisticated, mission-critical applications in minutes.

Low-code platforms are built for agile, business and IT to iterate together on a live view of an app instead of burying business rules in requirements docs nobody understands that IT must translate into compiled code in lengthy dev cycles.

ADM: Why do survey respondents believe that having a “low-code” platform is critical for the enterprise?


Beckley: According to our recent survey, more than three in four (76%) IT leaders believe citizen developers should utilize an enterprise low-code platform to mitigate risks.

In today’s world, every company needs to become a software company and achieve digital transformation so they can create new digital customer experiences and ensure a consistently good customer experience. In addition, they also need to show agility. Citizen developers have risen because IT simply can’t respond fast enough to demand while IT budgets shrink and expertise gets outsourced.

ADM: What’s behind the growth of the citizen developer movement?


Beckley: Simply stated, IT and traditional developers can no longer keep up with the demand. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor is predicting a shortage of professional developers by 2020, creating a growing need to citizen developers who can build sophisticated enterprise apps.

ADM: How are companies using “low-code” platforms for the enterprise?


Beckley: Companies are using low-code platforms to implement agile methodologies and marry up their software development practices with constantly changing business requirements.  It is critical in engaging business users early and often to empower their ability to help create new business lines and orchestrate new digital customer experiences. In my experience, companies see low-code platforms as a critical capability to ensure they can deliver consistent results.
Michael Beckley

ADM: What role does a “low-code” platform play in a larger digital business transformation plan?


Beckley: With a low-code enterprise platform, IT can also take citizen-developed apps built on the platform and easily add more power and sophistication, working closely with lines-of-business throughout the enterprise. Low-code platforms enable developers to focus on creating code only where it’s differentiated and fun instead of boring and routine. 

As a result, low-code enterprise platforms become the strategic enabler for digital transformation. They get business and IT on the same page, allowing companies to move from idea to product quickly.

ADM: What do these survey findings reveal about the future of work?


Beckley: It reveals a call to action that citizen developers are here and you need a low-code enterprise platform to govern their work and make them more efficient and effective.

Low-code enterprise platforms ensure that humans will continue to have an important role to play in an increasingly algorithmic and data-driven world. Low-code platforms provide a foundation for technologies like machine learning and AI to be creatively directed by humans instead of burying their power into code to control us.




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