Empowering the Citizen Developer to Create Breakout Business Growth


In 2009, Gartner predicted that by 2014, citizen developers would build at least 25 percent of new business applications. Unfortunately, five years on, we’re still quite a way off from that sort of citizen developer critical mass. There still aren’t enough of the enabling technologies that are needed to put the development tools in the hands of the business user.

We’re at the stage where many systems have baseline functionality that allows a business user to create an application, but still, far too often, to customise them to a truly useful degree, you have to dig into a more technical level of the platform, which requires a completely different level of technical skill. Some providers have added a modelling layer on top of software to make it more accessible, but to do anything more complex requires advanced knowledge of a scripting language your typical business user simply doesn’t have.

So, despite much enthusiasm, especially among business users who are chomping at the bit for more control over the tools they use to manage their forecasts and workflows, most software providers are simply not there yet.

At Anaplan, we’re committed to providing our business users with full access to an engine they can configure and control. We put the ability to customise the business logic into the hands of the business user who’s closest to the line of business and its unique needs.

Conventional wisdom had said that the citizen developer model would only work for small scale, peripheral applications. But at Anaplan, we are seeing the creation of big, central, large-scale models by non-IT developers. IT departments still own the technology and manage the integration points, but no longer have to feel like a bottleneck standing between the business user and their need to modify the business rules that drive their model.

I’m excited that at Hub 2014 we’ll be able to showcase a number of these initiatives and other inspiring applications of Anaplan apps, from high-growth and high-change companies including McAfee, Diageo, HP, Box and more, to provide a glimpse into the business success and growth that is possible when you give business users the ability to really own their applications.

Seizing the Citizen Developer Opportunity Within Your Organization

Putting a focus on citizen developer-owned applications can help you reduce the risk usually associated with large-scale technology projects, because the person designing and implementing the solution is much closer to the requirements. This significantly reduces the risk of something being built that doesn’t meet the business users’ needs. Instead, the person who understands and lives with the business problem on a daily basis owns its solution.

If your company isn’t ready to embrace the citizen developer model, you have to understand that it will still be going on throughout your company. Covert use of user-preferred applications is going to happen anyway. You can’t stop them – to get a job done people will build spreadsheets and send them around by e-mail, or set up a home-grown system on a personal database. Your IT team has a lot better chance of controlling the process from a security standpoint by embracing it head on, and advocating for more IT and business user collaboration, instead of hoping the issue goes away.

Citizen developers are the wave of the future. Are you ready for it? Join me in the opening keynote tomorrow at HUB 2014, or follow along with us on twitter using the #HUB2014 hashtag, to learn first-hand how Anaplan can mobilise your citizen developers to create significant business growth. And get a peek at some impressive client apps in action during Crowdsourced! Real Anaplanners, Real Apps.

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