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Gartner Predicts Application Development Shake Up

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Gartner has predicted that in five years time, at least 25 percent of new business applications will be built by so called “citizen developers.

More and more business applications will be built by people not affiliated to any particular software company, so called citizen developers.

So said research house Gartner at its annual Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida, after it predicted that by 2014, citizen developers will build at least 25 percent of new business applications.

Citizen developers include everyday people empowered with newfangled tools to build applications and create mashups that can be used in enterprise settings. Gartner said that this advance should both enable end users and free up IT resources.

However, Gartner also warned that IT organisations that fail to capitalise on the opportunities that citizen development presents will find themselves unable to respond to rapidly changing market forces and customer preferences.

Gartner defines a citizen developer as a user operating outside of the scope of enterprise IT and its governance that creates new business applications for consumption by others either from scratch or by composition.

“Future citizen-developed applications will leverage IT investments below the surface, allowing IT to focus on deeper architectural concerns, while end users focus on wiring together services into business processes and workflows,” said Eric Knipp, senior research analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Furthermore, citizen development introduces the opportunity for end users to address projects that IT has never had time to get to – a vast expanse of departmental and situational projects that have lain beneath the surface.”

Knipp identified four converging forces that are advancing citizen development: mass personalisation, infrastructure industrialisation, changing demographics and developer tool evolution.

Knipp said mass personalization is custom tailoring by a company in accordance with its end users’ tastes and references. End users start to become developers when they start to personalise software for their use, he said. Mashup tools enable personalisation while allowing reuse of existing service-oriented-architecture investments. Moreover, ubiquitous access via mobile devices drives the need for further personalisation of content and applications, he added.

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What Knipp refers to as infrastructure industrialisation is coming via cloud computing, a model of delivering elastically scalable computing resources as a service over the Internet. Cloud computing frees application development from infrastructure ownership.

Meanwhile, changing demographics are resulting from the retirement of baby boomers, and the maturation of “digital natives” means that the workforce will expect technology to “just work,” Knipp said. The “consumerisation” of technology is not a trend for these people, it’s a way of life, he said.

And, finally, developer tool evolution has made application development more accessible than ever.

Better technology has also lowered the bar for becoming a developer, while at the same time, users have become less intimidated by technology, empowering citizen developers to do more than they ever could before, Knipp said.