Citizen development offers solutions for data analytics resource constraints

What if I said you could add 15 developers to your team, and it wouldn’t cost you anything?

Hi, I’m Peter Nichol, Data Science CIO.

Today we’re going to talk about citizen development. Most of our days are spent trying to put out fires and rationalizing rogue applications developed outside of standard IT governance and protocols.

As fun as that can be, what if there was a way that we could enable our users to drive data-science initiatives? Historically, we talked about power users or evangelists when resources were low and business partners demanded that they develop business-intelligence reports. Our goal at the time was to enable our business partners to be more effective and self-sufficient.

The idea behind citizen development is to provide your business partners with capabilities to function independently and in parallel with IT. The theory is to introduce business users to low-code or no-code environments. Through this process, we can accelerate development and lower the barrier to entry to develop data insights. As it turns out, 25% of citizen developers have no coding background at all. Typically, almost 70% are able to build applications that are functional in less than three months. Not bad for nearly zero coding experience.

What does this mean to you? You already have resources at your disposal in your company that are idle. These resources are dormant; they need to be discovered and activated. Using this approach, if we can inspire and activate those individuals, we increase our resource capacity. We now have additional resources to which we previously didn’t have access to leverage, and the cost is nearly zero dollars to do this—the kicker.

The theory is that by focusing on different types of IDEs or development environments, we can enable these resources to do their development and build their applications. IDE environments like BlueJ, Eclipse, AWS Cloud 9, Code Blocks, and several other tools exist to provide business partners with capabilities and functionalities to develop their applications seamlessly.

It sounds like business users can now create anything they want. They can—with only one minor exception. Once those applications are developed, they must be run through a conventional IT governance process for compliance, security, and enterprise-standards adherence. Instead of business partners bringing in their own IT teams to do things better, faster, and cheaper, they converge with internal IT teams. Business partners no longer work on rogue IT initiatives that were developed in isolation. We’re collaborating as one team. We’re starting to converge.

The added benefit for business partners is getting trained on IT’s obstacles while working hard to deliver our organization’s functionality. Convergence is the whole point of citizen development. It allows our business leaders to experiment and accelerate as fast as possible on their own with guard rails. This provides different value opportunities and inspires leaders to develop and build functionality to support our business operations.

Does your department have a backlog of issues that have been requested over the last, say, six or nine months? Your team has a limited number of developers, data analysts, data scientists, and capable programmers. Your capacity isn’t infinite, yet the demand for new requests seems almost endless. By leveraging citizen development, we now have tools and techniques to help burn down that backlog and converge as one unified team.

Hi, I’m Peter Nichol, Data Science CIO. Have a great day!

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Peter is a technology executive with over 20 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail-oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.