Businesses are looking for IT departments to lead their company through the increasingly urgent demand for digital transformation and innovation. But data shows that the average IT department saw a mere 1% budget increase in 2015, despite more digital change and a growing backlog of projects.
What's happening now
With less resources, IT departments are also dealing with business managers bringing in or developing their own solutions and jeopardizing the data and infrastructure IT teams work hard to protect.
IT departments can champion the digital consumerization at organizations by bringing this shadow IT, or unauthorized deployment of software, into the light by providing no-code solutions to develop business managers into empowered citizen developers.
The citizen development trend is unleashing a new wave of DIY, decentralized solutions sweeping across organizations.
In its 2014 report "Raising the Game: The IBM Business Tech Trends Report," IBM found that 80% of leading enterprises are forming new partnerships with citizen developers to drive greater collaboration and organizational-wide innovation.
Like the concept of shadow IT itself, citizen developers aren't new. For decades, employees outside of IT have built databases in Excel and developed and deployed similar database applications without ever writing a line of code.
ALSO READ: What's a No-Code Business App Anyway?
The more recent emergence of aPaaS, or application Platform as a Service, defined by Gartner as "a cloud service that offers development and deployment environments for application services" that have popped up in recent years with more “no-code” citizen developer capabilities is feeding this growing demand. Its benefits reach far into the organization, starting with the powerful partnerships between IT departments and the lines of businesses they enable.
This partnership is crucial to IT departments who currently struggle with:
1. Understaffed departments dealing with growing backlogs
IT teams spend a lot of energy prioritizing, identifying business value, formulating risk scores and calculating ROI to make sure they are approving only the most critical opportunities.
Yet technologically-savvy business leaders expect more out of their IT department, especially when they depend on them for approving solutions important to streamlining their business processes.
Often times, balancing efficiency and safety with "doing it fast" requires a lot of resources and funding to tackle all the demands coming from multiple directions.
2. A need for speed
Business managers typically do not have the patience for a lengthy software development process which typically begins with IT analyzing a business leader’s needs, a review of existing legacy solutions for gaps or possible available solutions, exploring and reviewing possible vendors for selection, and deep data security dives on the vendor’s infrastructure. Months may have passed before getting business requests and vendor purchase orders approved by the finance department. Meanwhile, IT team members are rotating off of other projects and need time to get up to speed on the business requirements of the new project.
By the time the solution is ready for deployment, the business need or industry landscape may have changed, making the shiny new tool less useful. Rapid development and deployment ensure IT departments can enable their business departments to keep up with the ever-changing demands and requirements for organizations to stay competitive.
3. Managing budgets efficiently
Building an app from scratch and managing it in-house is extremely expensive and resource-intensive. From design work, to app development, security, updates, version control and added features, the costs start to add up. An aPaaS solution with a suite of pre-built services can handle all these functionalities and much more in one centralized platform that adapts to changes in your organization for a fraction of the cost.
4. Ability to execute on business leaders’ exact needs
It's almost impossible for IT to be able to understand and translate each business unit's project requirement exactly. Developing an application requires expertise of the business problem to create a functional technology solution. There's no one better to create and customize these applications than a business-centric citizen developer who knows exactly how the solution will be used.
5. Tech savvy business users are already building and bringing in their own solutions
Bring or Build Your Own Application (BYOA) has undeniably transformed the workplace with productivity and collaboration apps like Evernote, Google Drive and Box moving in. And as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution has taught us, the increasing consumerization of IT is here to stay.
They create new challenges for IT departments tasked with protecting their organization’s networks from data loss and hackers. But trying to stop BYOA and other "shadow IT" efforts from infiltrating an organization is futile.
That’s why now more than ever, organizations need IT professionals to provide greater options and guidance on best practices around integrating these solutions in a safe way.
How no-code aPaaS solutions can help
No-code aPaaS solutions enable citizen developers to handle technology needs to create database applications, automate workflows, develop shared document repositories, construct reporting dashboards and process data without ever having to write a line of code.
Advanced yet light-weight, these solutions can accelerate the time it takes to bring lines of business solutions to market. The best solutions enable teams to be experimental and make changes to applications with minimal costs to rebuild.
In general, suitable citizen development platforms empower teams to collaborate and solve business process inefficiencies by rapidly creating custom database and workflow-driven applications with robust analytics, data integration, collaboration and document management.
High-quality aPaaS solutions also include capabilities such as granular permission controls, flexible notification settings, customization and integration APIs, instant mobile as well as desktop deployment, with proven scalability and performance records.
How IT can enable business leaders to solve their own problems securely
One way to get ahead is to play an active role in choosing the aPaaS tools business units use or would like to use for building their own applications. With a hand in tool selection, IT leaders can make sure the applications are built to company standards. Fortunately for IT managers, there are plenty of options -- but cutting through the clutter can be a major undertaking.
While researching aPaaS solutions, CIOs and IT leaders should ask:
- What are the functionality needs of my line-of-business units? BPM? Collaboration?
- What is my main priority? Development speed? Iteration Control? Maintenance?
- How customized are the application needs or are they of a more common business process theme?
- How important is remote and mobile access to the application end users? Need to view data? Access reporting? Take action steps? Collaboration?
- What complimentary services besides application creation and deployment does the aPaaS provide? Tools for collaboration? Open APIs? Pre-built plug-ins with 3rd party services? General integration connectors to various data sources? Flexible storage? Audit logs?
- How vibrant is the ecosystem of third-party developers?
- What kind of permission and access controls does the aPaaS come with? Is there IP fencing and 2-factor authentication? Where and how is the data stored?
Want to learn more about no-code solution providers? Check out the G2 Crowd Grid® Report for No-Code Development Platforms.
About the Author
Nicole is Director of Marketing at Kintone, with 10+ years experience in content strategy, campaign management, lead acquisition and building positive work cultures of empowered, purpose-driven team members. She spent seven years as a journalist, previously serving as a CBS San Francisco digital producer, NPR contributor, Patagon Journal deputy editor and reporter for several publications, including the Chicago Tribune. She's passionate about the tech for good space, social entrepreneurship and women leadership. On the weekends, you’ll likely find her putting her Master Gardener skills to use in at community gardens in Oakland.