The Rapid Raise of the Citizen Developer Market

Citizen developers are becoming an important part of modern enterprise environments. as line of business units in large companies build their own “shadow IT” groups, they are becoming more ambitious about the types fo application they can deliver. Additionally, the software tools and platforms targeting shadow IT or citizen developers seems to be experiencing a phenomenal growth and is being embraced by giants such as Microsoft, Google or Amazon.

Citizen developer tools and platforms are mostly focused on enabling the implementation of applications using minimum code. The goal of these tools is to enable non-developers, or certain non-experts, to implement full-featured applications on specific areas. While a couple of years ago, citizen developers were constrained to very specific areas such as website implementation, today they are proliferating in almost every area of modern enterprise software development. There are several factors contributing to the rapid growth of the citizen developer market.

5 Factors Contributing to the Raise of Citizen Developer Market

1 — Technology-Talent Gap

Technology is evolving exponentially faster than previous decades and traditional enterprise continue experiencing tremendous challenges acquiring talent in emerging technology areas. As a result, there is a strong demand for tools that simplify the creation of applications in new technology domains and line of business units don’t want to be constrained by the limitations of IT departments.

2 — Business-IT Friction

The never ending friction between business and IT is just being accelerated by the adoption of new technologies. as a result, line of business units will continue supporting and expanding shadow-IT initiatives.

3 — SaaS Systems are Becoming Application Development Platforms

Following Salesforce, some of the most popular SaaS systems in the market such as Office365, G-Suite, WorkDay, etc have been rapidly expanding its capabilities to support self-service application development models. This has empower citizen developers that can now implement full-feature applications without abandoning their favorite SaaS system.

4 — Technology Complexity

The increasing complexity of new technology areas such as artificial intelligence or data visualization is creating a strong demand for tools and solutions that provide an experience for non-developers to deliver applications in those areas.

5 — Severless Computing

Many of you might be surprised to see serverless computing included in this list but the new technology movement has become one of the key factors that has facilitated the proliferation of citizen developer platforms. Serverless computing platforms such as AWS Lambda or Google Functions has become a key extensibility mechanism for SaaS and mobile business applications.

5 Technical Growth Markets for Citizen Developers

Beyond traditional web application development, there are several new booming markets that are actively leveraging citizen developers.

1 — Mobile Applications: Recently, Google and Microsoft launched self-service mobile application development platforms integrated with G-Suite and Office365 respectively. That move is a strong validation for the self-service mobile application development market.

2 — Integration: Self-service integration tools continue to experience a high demand in the enterprise. Platforms such as IFTTT or Zapier are clear winners in this category.

3 — Artificial Intelligence: A new generation of platforms trying to enable the creation of AI applications by non-developers has been emerging within the AI market. Natural language processing, image recognition or voice analytics are some fo the strong areas of self-service AI. Platforms such as BigML or recently acquired DataRobot are examples of technologies in this category.

4 — Bots: Bots are called a strong market for citizen developers. As a result, the market is exploding with platforms that enable the creation of bots with minimum code. BetaWorks’ Dexter is one of my favorite examples in this category.

5 — In-SaaS Applications: the demand for citizen developers that can build applications that extend traditional SaaS systems continues to be strong., Office365 and G-Suite are front runner examples of platforms embracing this model .

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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