The Biggest Trends in Database Application We’ve Seen

citizen developer biggest trend online database application


As I already explained in this blog a few times, database applications used to be the dearly protected turf of professional programmers. Until a few years ago, there was no way a non-coder could create a database application. The process took time and efforts and you really needed that specialized knowledge to be able to design and create something useful. In the last few years, it all changed. The era of the citizen developer had begun. Let me and Gartner explain to you what happened.


Citizen Developers: The Gartner Reports

First things first, what is a citizen developer?

Citizen developer: a definition

According to Gartner:

“A citizen developer is a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. In the past, end-user application development has typically been limited to single-user or workgroup solutions built with tools like Microsoft Excel and Access. However, today, end users can build departmental, enterprise and even public applications using shared services, fourth-generation language (4GL)-style development platforms and cloud computing services.”

As the definition explains, it first started with Excel and Access “applications” where end-users would create pretty good applications but not good enough to be used by a whole team, department or even less, the full staff of a company.

Software designed for the citizen developers

But then came a few new players like us and a handful of other competitors. Online database software was born and was now allowing anybody with a need to create database applications without programming. Many businesses embraced the concept to let their employees manage the business data without all the time and money involved with having database applications designed by programmers. The concept is answering a great need since in 2009, Gartner then said:

“By 2014, citizen developers will build at least 25 percent of new business applications, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner said that this advance should both enable end users and free up IT resources. However, analysts warned that IT organizations that fail to capitalize on the opportunities that citizen development presents will find themselves unable to respond to rapidly changing market forces and customer preferences.”

That is one in four applications designed and created by someone without a programming background. For a market that was a very well protected turf, this is huge! Gartner seemed to be right since again in 2011:

“Citizen developers will be building at least a quarter of new business applications by 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. In an era of shoestring IT budgets, end users are increasingly looking outside the IT organization for application development (AD) and in many cases are building applications themselves.
“End-user application development (EUAD) is nothing new, but the risks and opportunities it presents have become much greater in recent years,” said Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner. “In the past, EUAD posed limited risks to the organization because it was typically limited to a single user or workgroup. However, end users can now build departmental, enterprise and even public applications. While this change enables organizations to empower end users and releases IT resources, it also heightens the risks of EUAD.”

This well protected turf soon felt threatened and I can’t blame programmers since EUAD truly can represent a risk for business security. Or course, companies need to be aware of the risks coming with giving such power to end-users. Programmers and other people with programming and security experience should be involved in the process. Business owners should only trust vendors with good reputation and references.

I think end-user application development (EUAD) is there to stay. Is your business already using online database software? Do you think it could be useful to your company? Do you see a need for it for you? Leave a comment to share your experience with other readers.

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