Arming The Citizen Revolution #40 #cong20


I explore a whole new way of working whereby computer applications are quickly developed and deployed without knowing coding. Called Low-Code-No-Code or Citizen Development, I believe this is a movement, a revolution in the making that will transform how we live, work, and play.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. What is Low-Code-No-Code and Citizen Development
  2. 450 million new apps to be created in the next 5 years using Citizen Development
  3. Problem solvers solve and IT enable!
  4. It is a new was to work, live, and play
  5. Come join the revolution

About Liam Ó Móráin:

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By Liam Ó Móráin

Text: Think Etan Hunt in Mission Impossible, Neo in The Matrix, or Michael Burnham in Star Trek Discovery. The interfaces which enable such characters to ‘discover’, ‘query’ and  ‘hypothesize’ various scenaria are of the type and functionality I want!

In recent years, significant advances in areas like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing have birthed, have enabled a new type of computer use and interaction that creates working, deployable ‘code’, without coding. The complexities, elegance and horrors of coding are buried but the functionality and power are available to be harnessed by you, the user.

Coming back down to earth, Siri is, as good example as any to explain, a new world order of coding. Siri is an incredible interface, an incredible piece of technology, with a lot of complexity hidden from the user. When you ask Siri to do something, you don’t have to artificially construct your question or word choice in an awkward, structured, convoluted, computer-oriented or forced way. Instead, thankfully, the power and complexity of Natural Language Processing, speech recognition, semantic technologies, and taxonomic methods are hidden from the user. But more specifically the full power of these hidden technologies are available to you, the user.

This new world order of coding is called Low-Code, No-Code or Citizen Development. By ‘Citizen’ I mean ‘anyone’ with access to a computing device. By ‘Development’ I mean the creation of ‘apps’ to solve problems and do things in a new or different way. And the tools enabling the ‘Citizen’ and enabling the ‘Development’ are software platforms. These platforms include those from leading technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and VC backed companies like Unqork, Betty Blocks, and Out Systems.

It is these tools, that will ‘arm’ the ‘citizen’ to change things, to disrupt how things are created and developed. This disruption will happen in a way and manner that I, and people involved in Citizen Development, consider to be a movement, to be a revolution. Interestingly, COVID has not only accelerated this change, it has also lit a fire under this revolution.

Businesses have been transforming in slow motion for too long. COVID has proven that people, processes, and products/services can be changed on-a-dime without companies and organisations falling apart, imploding, and destroying themselves. Working from home is a new normal.  Most importantly, decisions and decision making authority is now ‘distributed’, no longer needed to be made by people in an office, no longer rigidly subject to the traditional command and control organizational structure. Supporting and driving this distributed way of working, at speed, are the real heroes of the revolution: front line workers, operations, and support. They are using Citizen Development tools to implement solutions solving problems they are experiencing first hand. They are creating new ways of working in order to stay connected to customers, to teams across, often, global networks and supply chains, and to head office. These new methods can be transformative and disruptive with lengthily and costly processes being reduced and significant, smothering, management and organizational oversight being minimized.

The people who are driving this disruption, this transformation, are not technical people in the traditional IT sense. They are however, technically expert in their day-to-day jobs. Using workflow-like tools, as part of Citizen Development platforms, they are able to design and deploy into production, real apps, in days rather than in months or even years. While these experts know what the problems and likely solutions are, organizations tend to make it very hard for them to create solutions for pressing problems. The effort required to overcome the organizational hurdles in order to solve problems quickly and quietly often tend not to be worth the effort and distract from the day job, inherent pressures, and the reality of life and work. Organizations, for a variety of reasons, but often culturally, make it hard, especially for people at the coal-face, to innovate and solve their own problems in a way that reflects the experiences, reality, and facts on the ground. Citizen Development changes all that. I believe passionately that Citizen Development, will be the agent provocateur, driving organizational transformation henceforth and a new way to empower and enable change!

This new way of empowerment and change has led Microsoft to suggest that of the 500 million apps to be built over the next 5 years 450 million will be built using Citizen Development tools. CNBC report that more apps will be built in the next 5 years than were built over the last 40 years.  Gartner posits that the number of active citizen developers will be 4x the number of professional developers by 2023. The reason behind these bullish views is that Citizen Development platforms enable problem solvers, front line staff, operations, and others, create and deploy solutions in double-jig-time. The role of central IT is still critical in that they are responsible for setting up the governance around these tools for safe and scalable deployment. IT are no longer the perceived bottleneck with massive backlogs but are the enablers. With Citizen Development, the problem solvers solving and IT enable!

This new way of working – problem solving and IT enabling – is  both disruptive and transformative in how businesses operate. I believe it to be revolutionary. The citizen, the problem solver, can leverage great advances in technology to actively participate (i.e. citizenship), solve problems, and implement change. The Citizen Developer, the problem solver, the doer, will be the ones that will reimagine the world we live and work in. I believe low-code-no-code, citizen development is the platform that will enable, empower and arm this Citizen Revolution.

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