Citizen coding is a concept of end-users developing their own IT applications with little to no coding experience.
Businesses that are strapped for cash or resources have taken a greatly increased interest in low-code and no-code platforms because of the fact that they can be used to help create more complex web applications cheaply and quickly. A great example is our HTML editor and other free tools. The use of citizen coding has risen strongly since the outbreak, especially as COVID-19 has revealed the need for more efficient technological innovation across multiple industries.
In this article, we’ll cover the biggest challenges that many businesses will face post-COVID and how citizen coding can potentially be used as part of the solution for these challenges. At the same time, we’ll also discuss how citizen coding remains limited in what it can do for larger scale projects that require more complex IT solutions.
How can citizen coding step in to help businesses?
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the way we do business in ways nothing else has. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed, upwards of a third of all US small businesses are facing the possibility of having to close permanently, and the stock market crash following the pandemic was among the worst in recorded history.
As a result, organizations across multiple industries are becoming far more cautious in regards to spending and deploying new digital initiatives. This has become more complicated as a result of the fact that the IT teams have been hit hard, as they have to help employees who are not the most tech-savvy adapt to a remote working environment while still keeping the systems up and running.
This is where citizen coding can step in to help, as low-code/no-code solutions are user-friendly and inexpensive solutions for helping businesses achieve these initiatives, and can reduce development times by up to 80% in some cases.
A citizen-coding culture simply means that each department of a company will develop its own IT solutions. Each solution can then help to address the peculiarities for its respective department. Meanwhile, the IT experts of a company can become more focused on a higher level and more complicated tasks. Meanwhile, the low-coding/no-coding solutions can be utilized for tasks that may be more time consuming but also not as important.
Considering that one of the biggest problems that centralized IT departments face is becoming overloaded with queues and tasks, a citizen coding culture creates multiple independent IT departments instead.
This will enable both solutions and issues that arise alike to be deployed in a faster fashion. The employees in each department will be trained and given the proper tools for deploying solutions and troubleshooting issues. A ticket for IT assistance will only be used as an option once all other options have been spent.
Finally, perhaps the most crucial reason of all is to establish a better relationship with virtual clients. The possibility of more economic lockdowns from a second wave means that businesses will have to continue adapting to selling their products online and offering pick-up and delivery services for many months or even years to come.
Businesses will also need to rely on online sources more to engage their customers as well, including through mobile applications. Citizen coding can help these businesses adapt to the new era by providing the necessary tools for building such apps.
While a mobile application built using low-code or no-code tools may not be incredibly complex, it will still offer all of the essentials, such as the ability to have a rewards system and inform customers about discounts, integration with payment services that are compatible with mobile apps, and gathering customer data for analytical purposes.
Limitations with citizen coding
At the same time, it’s important to recognize the constraints and limitations that exist with a citizen coding environment as well. As already mentioned, the biggest reason for the explosion in popularity of low-code and no-code solutions has been the fact that IT departments have recognized that they cannot handle every low-level task that companies need. As a result of financial constraints presented thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, resources have been strained even further.
But none of this means that citizen coding is an end-all solution. One of the biggest issues with a citizen coding atmosphere, for instance, is the lack of central governance for management. With each department creating a new application for something they need, there will sometimes be too many applications created for the same purpose. This can be mitigated by relying on the cloud for storage and app development.
Another and more pressing concern with citizen coding as well is the security risks they come with. Most citizen developers honestly lack the knowledge to properly secure the applications they create. Since hacking and cybercriminal activity has been on the rise since the pandemic struck, your company and customer data are more at risk than they ever have been before.
The best strategies to help improve security and privacy in a citizen coding environment are to provide security training to all citizen developers working at the company, requiring all developers to encrypt their data using virtual private networks (VPNs) that come with secure encryption protocols like L2TP and IKEv2, and regularly running security audits. In addition, you should allow an administrator (who should be a higher-level IT developer), to monitor the security of all low code and no code software.
To conclude, citizen coding can undoubtedly be an efficient solution for smaller projects that are intended to scale up quickly. The resulting mobile applications can be very functional and user friendly, looking as if they were done by a professional. Nonetheless, the lack of central governance and security issues present challenges that companies will need to meet.
Eventually, we may even get to the point where artificial intelligence can be used to generate low-code/no-code apps on their own, possibly negating the need for citizen developers in the first place.