The missing component to digital transformation: Citizen developers

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As the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps across the globe, new technologies penetrate every facet of life from high rise cities to small villages. Consumers' demands and expectations rise with technology, pressuring businesses to deliver excellent services at faster speeds.

Tech-forward companies pose serious threats to laggers. While the majority of businesses recognize digital strategy formation is essential for long-term survival, they are still struggling to make an effective transformation. A Futurum survey revealed that only 38 percent of companies have a specific timeline for digital strategy implementation, including milestones and objectives.

Touting a digital strategy and actively pursuing transformation are two entirely different matters. More than half of interviewed senior executives admit the term “IT strategy” has just been swapped for “digital strategy” with no significant change. Only one in five companies can be marked as Digital Leaders—agile, tech-forward companies who are using technology disruption for explosive growth. With all this digital transformation chatter, how are so many businesses still missing the boat?

Why are companies falling short?

Digitally narrow-minded

Under old-school IT models, IT professionals handled all development, troubleshooting, update management, security measures, and maintenance. Cloud-based systems and new business solutions call for a new IT model that permeates an organization, where IT staff members serve as enablers.

Single-sided digitalization

Often, a digital plan will only affect either the customer or employee end of a business, but not both. Studies by Adobe and Salesforce have shown employees, consumers, and business buyers all expect technology to simplify procedures. Improving only one side of the equation leaves the other group unsatisfied and frustrated, hindering complete digital transformation.

Lack of tech-savvy leadership

When asked who is responsible for holding back their organization’s digital transformation, over 1 in 3 leaders pointed to their CEO or senior executive team. If senior executives aren’t showing the way by actively taking part in new solutions, little will be accomplished.

Digital transformation can't be a siloed process in the IT department; it must go all the way from execs down to the line workers. Grave misunderstandings among leadership, coupled with adversity to change, kill digital strategies.

Globally, businesses are missing the mark of true digital transformation by neglecting a key component—citizen development of applications. This single solution can eliminate multiple barriers to becoming a digital leader.

Citizen development redefines IT

After purposefully selecting suitable no-code platforms, IT workers train employees to use intuitive interfaces to create applications, run tests, and modify applications, all on their own. Anyone with process insight can contribute to application development and implementation.

Frustration with inadequate tech tools drives workers to use insecure, personal apps outside of company-approved programs. Citizen development gives employees the tools they are looking for, simultaneously eliminating shadow IT issues and creating an attractive workplace for top talent job candidates.

Instead of facing long wait periods for IT developers to build new productivity apps, departments can put their heads together to build a custom app in a matter of days. When process inefficiencies are noted, no need to contact IT and face delays. Adjustments can be made on-the-spot, and everyone gets back to work.

Soon, IT experts will be hard to come by. The astounding shortage of computer science professionals in the US demonstrates the need for companies to become less reliant upon IT professionals to persist in digital transformation. Companies employing citizen developers won’t be adversely affected by the growing IT expert deficits.

Citizen development reshapes company culture

Company-wide digitization—not solely in the IT department—drives innovation and creativity as employees take ownership of problem-solving to improve the company from the grass-roots. Low-cost, no-code solutions make this cultural shift possible for every organization, no matter the budget size.

Employees at any level apply their process knowledge and expertise to not only create apps but improve overall processes by adding or removing steps. As department team members work together to refine task management, collaboration is taken to a new level.

Citizen-developed apps often include top management naturally, since communication channels become streamlined through automated processes to alleviate email overload. As executives are pulled into app use for communication purposes, they witness the benefits first-hand and are more apt to promote digital solutions energetically.

No-code custom applications cover a wide range both of internal and external operations, boosting productivity by 90 percent and increasing customer satisfaction by 70 percent. End-to-end, business processes become digitally aligned in a way never thought possible.

Bypassing citizen development as a digital transformation tool is like only putting a quarter tank of gas in a car. You might go somewhere but won't get very far.

Disrupting business operations through citizen development ultimately drives a company forward by reducing operational expenses, improving in-house performance, and delivering top-quality services to clients. Engaging employees for business solution development brings cohesion in and across departments to accomplish a holistic, true digital transformation.

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