The Evolution of the Citizen Developer
July 24, 2015 | By David Shephard
Can the reign of software giants like Apple and Windows be eclipsed by Doug from accounting? With increasingly user-friendly platforms, about 25% of new applications were, according to Gartner, created by end users in 2014. That means employees were creating bespoke apps for their companies. This offers exceptional advantages for the forward-thinking employer and their customers.
Advantages of Custom Apps
Whether you sequester your employees or employ a small to medium company to develop an app, they are far easier to create than you think. Who among us has not been embroiled in a new software design? The endless meetings, delayed delivery dates, training of employees only to have the new system crash with more bugs then Ontario in July. It takes months to iron out the kinks. Even then you are stuck with a system that doesn’t really service your niche industry because it was designed by software developers, not by the people who need to use and understand it best.
The custom app is not a software design, and it’s far easier than you think. The citizen developer takes just one aspect of your business and creates an app on an easy-to-use platform; no programming required. The advantages are legion!
- Streamline your processes
- Offer superior service to your customers
- Reduce your overheads
- Provide customers with easy-to-access information tailored to their requirements
- Reduce IT overheads
- Measure, calibrate of offer online calculators that reduce errors
- Save time
- Reduce expensive call-backs
- Add new revenue streams
How do I go About Developing my Custom App?
Take a survey among your customers and employees to find bottlenecks in your process or pain points you can resolve with a simple app. Alleviating the tedium of the sales or service process will give you a marked advantage over competitors.
Take for instance the curious case of Jim Parsons; real estate agent extraordinaire. The real estate market is a cutthroat affair, so Parsons decided to develop an app that would give him an edge. He realised that his clients wanted to work out mortgage payments quickly when embroiled in a bidding war. Having the ability to make split-second decisions about how high they could go allowed clients to react quicker.
Parsons developed an app that enabled customers to calculate monthly mortgage payments at prime instantly on their smart phones. The app not only gives his agency the edge, but he is now able to add a revenue stream by making the app available to other agencies and buyers.
It’s not all Sunshine and Roses
Before you allow Doug to develop apps with wild abandon, you should take a moment to heed the warning in Gartner’s report; Citizen Developers are Poised to Grow which cautions that employee developers need to know what they are doing and be closely monitored. You must implement a fail-safe security policy to avoid the “substantial data, process integrity and security vulnerabilities” that apps may pose.
Ensure that you have a comprehensive security protocol in place that establishes data is security in the cloud. Have an oversight structure that enforces these protocols and provides guidelines to citizen developers. Investigate all new applications prior to release to establish whether they pose a security risk.
Encouraging your employees to become citizen developers or having custom apps created for you is a relatively painless process that is fast, inexpensive and offers enormous advantages to those who are ready to level up.