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How citizen developers can speed up business app development

11-Apr-2018
How citizen developers can speed up business app development
The rise of the citizen developer is helping many businesses launch digital services. Malcolm Carroll, Director, Bluefinity International looks at the key benefits for business.

According to analyst firm App Annie, the global mobile app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion by 2021, a 380% jump from the $1.3 trillion app market in 2016. During this same time frame, the user base will almost double from 3.4 billion people using apps to 6.3 billion, while the time spent in apps will grow to 3.5 trillion hours in 2021, up from 1.6 trillion in 2016.

While many businesses want to develop apps to improve their business operations, many are struggling because of the shortage of skilled developers.

A recent government report suggested the shortage in digital skills represents a key bottleneck for industry and is linked to one in five of all vacancies. 72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs are suffering tech skill gaps.

Given this situation, one option for companies is to use citizen developers to develop apps. These are employees, who may be outside the IT department, but who have some technical skills and the ability to develop apps given the right technology tools, training and support.

One way of using citizen developers effectively is to provide them with rapid app development tools. These low code tools enable companies to develop sophisticated, full function web, hybrid and even native business apps, in a fraction of the time of other methods and, often, with simply the skills that they already have.

But how can companies ensure citizen developers will deliver high quality apps that meet business objectives, as well as security and compliance standards?

Overcoming the risks of using citizen developers
A YouGov survey for Appion last year amongst 500 IT decision makers suggested that citizen developers also pose risks for data integrity (73%), security (69%) and integration (58%).

To overcome these risks, companies need to first consider how citizen developers will be trained and supported. Most employees will lack traditional development skills, therefore it’s crucial that IT departments are involved in the development cycle.

Security and compliance teams should also be involved to ensure citizen developers have security and compliance awareness, and that apps are developed in line with company policies, as well as regulations that might apply in their industry.

Many of these challenges can be overcome by choosing the rapid business app development provider carefully. Selecting a partner who can provide full support and training is essential to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and achieves the required outcome.

Some citizen developers may be highly confident with code; others will be absolute beginners, so it’s essential the provider offers training resources and support for all levels.

The training could include videos, tutorials and downloadable training guides or help desk support.

A good low code solution should also be flexible and easy to roll-out across all platforms, devices, databases and operating systems, meaning that input from IT is minimal.

Groware, one of Canada’s leading providers of software for the grower and nursery markets is transforming its technology for customers thanks to low code development tools.

The small team at Groware has been using Evoke, a rapid app development platform from Bluefinity International to develop mobile apps to help its customers ease inventory management challenges. The apps allow customers to stock-take accurately, plan their crops and manage their business more effectively.

Evoke provided Groware with a low cost and completely flexible platform that integrated with its existing databases and enabled it to use its existing code to quickly and easily create mobile apps. In just a few months of working together, Groware launched its beta mobile apps to rave customer reviews.

For Groware, a key benefit of using Evoke has been the level of support provided by Bluefinity throughout the development process and that Evoke enables apps to be created and optimised for any device with the right look and feel for different customers.

A low code development platform can enable citizen developers to design high quality, secure business apps with all the support and training they will need, helping companies reduce costs and bridge the skills gap.

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