When I was in school, doctors and lawyers topped the list of dream jobs for many of my classmates — partly because their work was more visible and accessible than that of other professions. In my family, my aunt was a doctor and my mother was a nurse.
You’ve guessed it. I did not become a doctor, but with the digitization of work, my own path and the path of healthcare professionals started to head in the same direction. Today, whichever career path we choose, we all work for a technology company.
Technology sits at the heart of every company’s business and customer experience strategy. In the latest IDG State of the CIO survey, 82% of the respondents said that their focus is on implementing new technologies and methodologies to create new revenues, enhance operations, and improve the customer journey. Companies are looking for smarter ways to update customized software solutions and increase the application delivery speed.
But here is a catch! Most IT teams are already tied up with servicing the existing volume of requirements and support requests, leaving them little time to innovate. On top of it, the demand for software developers is higher than the global candidate supply.
Overcoming Innovation Bottlenecks with Citizen Developers
To remove the innovation bottleneck, increasing the size of the IT team is simply not enough. CIOs need to go beyond their department and empower employees in the entire organization to take part in application development as citizen developers.
This is possible with low-code/no-code (LCNC) application development. Employees with no or little coding experience can automate workflows and build apps by using visual tools and services — such as drag-and-drop, point-and-click tools, and flow charts — instead of traditional lines of programming. They can experiment, prototype, and deliver apps or automations in weeks, and sometimes even within days, in collaboration with the IT department and by following its governance model. This includes giving guidance on the areas of focus, application design, security, data protection, version control, and systems integration.
On the flip side, having citizen developers on board enables the IT team to focus on the governance and control of application development and automation, to scale and accelerate innovation.
Providing low-code/no-code tools and governance models increases the number of people within the organization who can tackle business challenges by delivering new apps and extensions. Already, 41% of non-IT department employees build or customize their own solutions and citizen developers are expected to outnumber professional developers fourfold in large enterprises by next year, according to Gartner.
More Development Power to the People
The potential is huge. Low-code/no-code solutions can make software development as much as 10 times faster than traditional methods, says Forrester. Innovation becomes part of everyone’s job.
For example, the international logistics firm DHL Freight created a fleet management application without coding using SAP AppGyver. The team wanted a better way to manage the fleet’s drivers and track the maintenance needs of the trailers during their journey across Europe. This includes real-time reports from drivers at the hand-over and receipt of trailers. Drivers can now report the exact location of damages to the trailer. The app is available in multiple languages across mobile and web-based platforms and offers role- and region-based user authentication.
Electric motorcycle manufacturer Verge is even running its entire factory operations, from inventory management to assembly lines to smart TV dashboards on apps that were built with zero lines of codes with SAP AppGyver. The apps interface the backend enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and use formular functions for easy and accurate calculations for the assembly line.
Having access to features such as formular functions is one reason why in the near future application development with low-code/no-code tools will become a common office skill, like creating presentations and spreadsheets.
Unifying the Developer Experience for Larger Impact
The collaboration of professional developers and citizen developers with low-code/no-code tools can catapult a company’s innovation capability to another dimension. Professional developers can free up time to focus on core tasks and more complex business transformation initiatives. IT teams also get a deeper understanding of how applications will be used by colleagues and customers, as well as where innovation needs are.
To fully unleash the innovation potential of low-code/no-code requires a unified developer experience for citizen developers and professional developers alike. It should support low-code and no-code application development and process automation for citizen developers while enabling professional developers to participate and contribute as needed. Companies need to strike the right balance between highly flexible yet complex professional development tools and easy-to-use tools. Every type of developer should feel empowered to build apps fast and have access to the right tools.
To get started, check out this low-code-/no-code SAP Learning Journey. It teaches citizen developers the basic concepts of software development and how to build mobile apps. I showed it to the medical professionals in my family, and it triggered so many ideas on how to improve patient care.
Imagine what your company can achieve — and what we can achieve for our society together — if every employee turns into a developer.
For more information, watch the SAP TechEd keynote here.
Juergen Mueller is chief technology officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.