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Citizen Development Gives Power to the People

Andreas Sulejewski, CEO and Co-Founder of Neptune Software, on using low-code app development to facilitate rapid digital transformation

Low-code and no-code development environments and visual programming tools have been around since the 80s, but have long been derided by old school IT professionals as lightweight utilities unsuited for all but the simplest tasks.

As companies strive for rapid digital transformation in 2022, however, low-code and no-code tools are increasingly being used to accelerate app development for digital solutions. Businesses are now utilising internal citizen developers to create apps, eliminating much of the manual programming required by a highly trained software engineer.

This means that businesses have unprecedented speed in developing and deploying new software and features. Gone are the days of waiting months or even years for the next software release from IT – low-code provides the right tool to enable project teams to design digital solutions in a truly agile way.

Harnessing a collaborative approach

Like low-code/no-code tools, the citizen developer role – a non-IT-trained employee with the capability to create apps – is a concept that has long drawn reactions ranging from laughter to sneers. Unfortunately for the scoffers, it is now widely considered that citizen development should be formalised as part of a more democratic and collaborative approach to addressing the demand for digital solutions. The need to involve business users in the software development process is no longer a laughing matter.

According to global research firm Forrester in its predications for the market in 2021, ‘The No-Code / Low-Code market is to be worth $ 21.2 billion by 2022’, and ‘75% of all development shops will adopt low-code platforms’. Now, with the ability to connect SAP systems to low-code/no-code software like Neptune DXP, the possibilities for citizen development have become endless, providing a truly collaborative offering that works across a business’s existing software and programmes.

Citizen developers are one of the great untapped resources in most contemporary organisations. Fusion teams that combine technological and business expertise and share the development of apps, no-code tools and agile processes, will enable citizen developers to contribute to the bigger promise of helping companies become fully digital businesses.

In the past, low-code/no-code tools performed poorly because programmes were interpreted at run-time rather than compiled into machine language. Functionality was limited to processes that could be visualised in drag-and-drop form. This is no longer the case, and a convergence of factors – including the ability to integrate low-code tools with existing SAP tools – is making citizen development not just practical for businesses, but also essential.

Gaining significant competitive advantage

Organisations that take advantage of a new class of cloud-based citizen development tools will gain significant competitive advantage by accelerating the speed and scale of turning ideas into code. IT can enable business users to deploy these tools themselves, making it easy to incorporate them into the application development mix. Online training enables users to learn at their own pace and their modular building block inventions can flow into the formal IT development process when appropriate.

Low-code doesn’t mean low-end, and today, it is far more than just a corporate gimmick. Like the principle of modular building blocks, the software applications being built can become as complex as desired. The art is to use the right imagination and planning to put the recurring building blocks together for each project to digitise paper processes or outdated ways of doing things to make employees’ day-to-day jobs easier.

By integrating SAP and non-SAP systems, IT departments can shift their focus from maintenance to innovation and thought leadership that creates lasting value.

Low-code provides companies with solutions that users actually accept because they are a perfect fit and are now generally designed by a citizen developer who uses the systems themselves. Thanks to low-code, workforces can expect new solutions perfectly tailored to business processes and roles. Employees can finally enjoy digital products in the company that transform their daily work.

Low-code doesn’t mean low-end

As stated above, taking a low-code approach to app development no longer means taking a low-end approach to app development. With a low-code approach, businesses venture down a smart path to break down barriers between business and IT to become agile.

Empowering people through citizen development helps companies digitise and create innovative, custom solutions to problems, with the systems they have in place and the software they need to survive, without breaking the bank. All of this happens quickly, at scale and with ease.

To be successful, one thing is crystal clear: every business today must be agile and constantly innovate to stay relevant. Citizen development is the perfect way to harness creativity and achieve success in a world driven by rapid and continuous digital transformation.


About Neptune Software
Neptune Software is a rapid application development platform vendor with more than 660 enterprise customers and over 3.5 million licensed end users globally that empowers IT departments to deliver tangible business outcomes. Neptune Software offers with its Neptune DXP, a leading low-code, SAP-centric, enterprise app development platform to digitise and optimise business processes and user interfaces – at scale and with ease.