What is a citizen developer?
A citizen developer is a business user that automates operations by using one or several technologies. Citizen developers can use simple building blocks to create new applications and do this through an interface, which requires no- to very low coding expertise.
Gartner describes this phenomenon as a democratizing app development. Using technology to create offers from products and services or to finetune and target their attributes and promotion is no longer restricted to a highly trained technical elite. When you don’t have the necessary IT resources or people with the necessary data skills, your data is only of limited use. The operators here are often data scientists and -analysts, which are in high demand and come with certain salary demands.
In recent times, the solutions the MarTech trailblazers offer are thé answer to the war for data talent. By allowing automation and providing standard business users with tools, part of the data specialists’ job can be taken over. Notably forward-thinking Customer Data Platforms (CDP) vendors are not only focusing on integrating advanced data analytics into an organization’s platforms but they are also by investing in an interface that allows profiles further up the chain to exploit data – such as campaign analysts, CX specialists, and more general marketing profiles to build themselves.
Indeed, arguably, the citizen developer and citizen development concepts, in particular, are not new – whether it’s building macros in Excel or putting together websites in a simple CMS, low-code activities carried out by creative and motivated non-IT specialists have been going on for some time. Find out more in this blog post.
And the trend is here to stay. Gartner predicts that by 2023, “the number of active citizen developers at large enterprises will be at least four times the number of professional developers”.
What are the benefits of citizen development?
Citizen developers bring a number of organizational benefits:
- Organizations can react quickly when needed, rather than having to wait for IT resources.
- Solutions can be built easily and quickly with no-code platforms.
- Citizen developers help align customer needs and business interests with IT priorities.
- Their skills bring additional value to the business (and their own careers).
- As their training needs are easily met, they are highly scalable, compared to specialist data scientists.
- They spark rather than stifle innovation.
Citizen development on these martech platforms allows you to identify insights, create specific audiences, and build personalized offerings. A guiding and user-friendly interface is essential to let business users develop their knowledge and feel comfortable in an environment where data can be exploited. This should not be considered as shadow IT as the IT department still remains in control of the data. Yet, the business users can leverage the data to maximize business value of customer data within the boundaries defined by IT.
So applying the citizen developer concept to working with data is an obvious step in the trend. Gartner views citizen data scientists as an important part of the data-driven culture, indeed it named them one of its three major trends influencing the Gartner Hype Cycle for Midsize Enterprises in 2019. By using the right tools, the citizen data scientist can extract advanced insights from data without advanced data science expertise. Those same tools will then enable them as citizen developers to create smarter campaigns.
The empowered marketer
This clearly brings additional interest and power to the role of the marketer. We like to call this effect ‘the empowered marketer’. Why empowered? Because they are no longer dependent on IT to continue with the campaign. Instead, they can work with data first hand, improving segmentation, executing more complex, inventive, and personalized campaigns. Besides, they can carry out more effective analytics on the results, before adjusting the campaigns accordingly.
But it’s not only marketing that benefits from it. IT, for instance, gets more time to focus on deeper architectural topics rather than keeping them occupied with end-user business process concerns. HR and the organization, in general, will feel less pressure to find the right specialists and pay for them, but it’s also good for data scientists themselves, who are free to focus on core activities in advanced data management and analytics like data stewardship and model building.
In short, citizen developers are helping organizations succeed across a range of industries and functions, from the industrial shop floor to medical billing to utilities. So, with the pressure from competitors, regulators, and customers expecting relevant and engaging communications, it is natural for organizations to empower their marketers with citizen development tools and skills.
When you want to scale your customer experience with citizen development, there are 3 things to consider. Learn more about how to get the most out of citizen development.
Scale your CX with citizen development