What the democratization of software development means for organizations


Low-code and no-code software development have been around for a while. Now the rise of AI-assisted software development is pushing the power of software creation to the next level. This provides big opportunities but also risks that need to be managed.

Empowering innovation

The massive opportunity is to drive innovation and faster iteration, by empowering domain experts who know what an application should do, even if they don’t have the coding skills to execute themselves. The communication gap between what a user needs and the developer is a massive inefficiency.

Risks of citizen development

As developers often point out in response, users don’t actually know what they want, and the value they provide is to help frame what is required and the path to get there.

Moreover there are hidden costs to enabling citizen development. The most obvious is that individual don’t see the big picture, so may be duplicating what has already been done, may not create quality apps, interface design will likely not be consistent with the other applications, making it harder for other users.

The fragmentation challenge

A particularly important point is that development pushing out to end-users almost inevitably creates fragmented systems, with a proliferation of apps hard to integrate with existing platforms.  

This makes it harder to create unified digital experiences, and risks to data integrity unless clear measures are in place on data access and storage.

Technology governance for transformation

As we have already learned over many years already, the more technology development is put in the hands of end-users, the more we governance structures and oversight are needed. This is very obviously required for security as well as maintaining the integrity of enterprise systems.

The challenge is to establish this in a way that enables the power of citizen development while keeping effective enterprise system structures. As I often term it, “governance for transformation“.  

It is hard to get right, but the rewards of doing this well are massive, creating an incredibly agile, innovation organization that is stable as it rapidly evolves.