Citizen developers arise

The democratisation of automation is starting to have a real-world impact

You don’t need to be a professional developer to harness the benefits of automation. The emergence of user-friendly tools is giving an increasingly tech-savvy workforce the power to build automation that can transform their day-to-day work lives.

As people and automation work ever more closely together, the ability to shape it to their specific needs is a logical next step. In the fourth of our blogs exploring the major trends in automation, we look at how you can take advantage, while also managing the risks to your organisation.

 

What’s happening across organisations like yours

As automation tools become simpler to use, more and more people will adopt them for their own purposes.

Often described as ‘low code’ or ‘no code’ platforms, they give anybody with the time and inclination the ability to develop their own automation systems.

Within an organisation, this empowers people closest to the day-to-day work to build automated processes that address specific challenges, without relying on the limited availability of in-house developers.

Although the impact of citizen developers is still relatively small in most organisations, their influence is growing.

The potential to create a more agile and efficient business, able to meet the needs of users on all sides is understandably attractive, which is one reason why 65% of application development is expected to be performed using low-code platforms by 2024[i].

 

[i] Data & Analytics predictions | Gartner

 

Why this matters to you

Agility, productivity, better employee experiences – the potential advantages of cultivating citizen developers makes for a very long list.

Here are several ways they can benefit your organisation:

  • They are likely to be on the frontline working with customers day-to-day, so they will be the first to spot where specific low-complexity processes could be made more efficient.
  • Few IT departments have the resources to meet the growing demand for automation across an organisation alone. Citizen developers can supercharge your capabilities.
  • Breaking down barriers between your IT department and other functions is always positive. Their expertise combined with the insights of customer-facing staff will generate practical solutions.
  • It is another route to improving your employee experience. Not only will it develop their skills, but it will also enable them to shape how they enhance their own productivity.

The idea of unleashing an army of amateur automation developers on your business may fill you with terror, and you are right to be cautious. It may also seem a little counterintuitive, given how much we have talked about the necessity of a joined-up, enterprise-wide strategy.

One key challenge organisation like yours will face in 2021 and beyond, is managing the tension between giving citizen developers the freedom to build their own bots, and the need for robust governance that makes sure they do it in a responsible way.

Considerations such as data security, already high on the C-Suite agenda, will come under increased scrutiny as you look to expand your citizen developer workforce. So, make sure you are building them into your strategy at the right levels, empowering them to automate processes without opening your organisation up to unnecessary risk.

 

How you can take advantage of it

It will take a cultural shift to really embed this approach as part of people’s day-to-day roles.

For a start this is not a side-of-desk job, to be carried out when you get a spare moment between business-as-usual tasks. Its critical citizen development is valued by all levels of your business so that people on your team can truly devote time to it.

That requires support from management to, for example, reduce their workload elsewhere and train others on the team to identify and prioritise processes suitable for automation. This will make sure there is a regular pipeline of work.

From a senior leadership perspective, a clear governance structure will make sure the work of your citizen developers integrates with wider automation strategies and treats sensitive information securely. It will also reassure leadership that although the reins of automation have been loosened, you are still in control.

By empowering people at the coalface of your business to develop automation, you will supercharge their productivity and fuel your growth.

 

What’s next?

There is a lot of hype around the various RPA platforms at the moment, with news of big-money IPOs, high-profile partnerships, and the looming shadow of tech giants poised to enter the market.

With so many options on the table, and market leaders starting to present themselves, we are seeing our clients begin to think strategically about which platform they choose to go with.

In our next blog, RPA platforms go mainstream, we look at this growing trend and explore why leading organisations are starting to consolidate their automation efforts. We cover what you need to think about and the benefits that consolidating your tech stack around one platform can bring to your automation journey.

If you can’t wait and want to read this next instalment right away, download our full Automation Trends 2021 eBook.

Tags: Process Automation, RPA