Two-thirds of business users say they're now app developers as well

'Citizen developers' are building or tweaking their own productivity apps, and a large segment are also getting involved in run-the-business app development.

Not too many business users (accountants, accounting managers, financial execs and the like) really know how to program in Java, Ruby, C++, or how to work within a .NET framework. But yet, technology skills are so important to them that 68% consider "developing apps" to be part of their daily routines.

Photo: HubSpot

That's one of the key takeaways from Intuit QuickBase's latest survey of 148 of their customers, of which 21% self-identified as IT developers, and 76% as "citizen developers." Only eight percent understand programming languages and development platforms, but a majority are involved in some way building apps, at least at the front end.

The types of apps citizen developers build consist mainly of "get-the-work-done" apps (65%). Another 42% are involved in more mission-critical "run-the-business" apps.

The bottom line: it's one less thing for IT to worry about. Plus, IT professionals are not being left out of the process either, the study's authors point out. The majority (75%) of IT builders indicated that they developed over three quarters of the applications and leave the last mile to their non-coder citizen developer colleagues. In fact, it's this prototyping process between IT and the business that represents the paradigm shift.

The report's authors refer to the platforms that support this interaction as "no-code" or "low-code" platforms. (They define QuickBase as a "low-code" platform.)

In fact, having IT-savvy users helps things flow a lot better. The survey report finds 29% of respondents have seen their application development speeds double when business users have the flexibility to design their own apps. Incredibly, 62% of the citizen developers estimate that it takes less than two weeks for them to complete an application, on average.

The report's authors are bullish on the advantages citizen developers, working with their IT departments, can provide:

"As digital transformation continues to heap an ever-growing backlog of application requests on their doorsteps, using existing legacy applications and high priced IT professionals and coders is not sustainable. This is why organizations are starting to turn to internal resources, true citizen developers, who have been trained to solve business problems rather than learn programming languages."