IT and 'citizen developers' partner on mobile apps and more

With low-code and no-code tools, ordinary business users can quickly and easily spin up new apps or add features and functions, but IT oversight is crucial.

mobile apps crowdsourcing via social media network [CW cover - October 2015]

Worker appetite for new applications, particularly mobile ones, is running high.

It’s so high, in fact, that it’s becoming tougher for IT departments to keep up with demand, according to analysts, researchers and enterprise executives.

Gartner predicts that demand within enterprises for mobile application development will grow some five times faster than IT’s capacity to deliver it through 2021. Gartner cites the continuing growth in smartphone sales as fueling demand for company apps that match the performance and usability seen in consumer apps.

To cope, organizations are turning to low-code/no-code platforms.

And they’re using them for both mobile and desktop app development. In the process they’re not only speeding up delivery, but they’re also enabling workers to build better products. Laura Reahard at Teach for America is a case in point.

Reahard started at the nonprofit organization five years ago as a fundraiser, using its Salesforce customer relationship management platform for the myriad tasks she had to complete, from benchmarking progress toward goals to analyzing data for decision-making.

As her confidence using the platform grew, Reahard says, she found that by making small changes, she could maximize the platform.

Despite no training or experience in coding, Reahard found she had a knack for the task. Now a manager on the organization’s Salesforce administration team, Reahard is using the Salesforce low-code/no-code tools to develop mobile and desktop features and functions to help her colleagues get their work done.

She recently used the tools to upgrade and streamline an existing mobile app, eliminating unnecessary data fields to make the app a more efficient and user-friendly product for fundraisers to use as they connect with potential donors interested in its mission of recruiting teachers for low-income communities.

Reahard says using the Salesforce low-code tools saved the organization time and money, while allowing her — a former fundraiser who understood the job but had no real education in programming — to deliver the right solution for their needs.

“Because I was one of them and we have a shared experienced, I can look at something and identify a gap or an improvement that they didn’t know was possible,” she says. “It led to a better user experience.”

Reahard represents a new breed of worker: someone capable of creating applications yet not considered a software coder. These citizen developers are enabled by a growing number of low-code and no-code platforms, drag-and-drop tools that let workers develop software without the heavy lifting traditionally required.

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