What do we mean by ‘The Citizen Developer’?
As the world of geospatial becomes more and more a part of the enterprise, it is incumbent upon software providers to develop software which can be used to provide business specific tools and workflows without the need to be a programmer or familiar with the nuances of particular development languages.
For organisations to take full advantage of the power of spatial analysis upon their business data, it will become increasingly necessary to provide powerful tools which can be built using simple existing building blocks, using visual tools, to simply put together sequences of blocks to form edifices, patterns and structures to provide them with desired applications and data analytical outputs.
The Citizen Developer approach encompasses users without formal training in coding or development languages and knowledge of software libraries. Even without those skills, the Citizen Developer approach nevertheless enables these users to build applications to extract high-value insights from data in a spatial context. They use tools that abstract much of the difficulty from tasks like data preparation and automate much of the work of modelling and detecting patterns in business data.
Gartner characterises the Citizen Developer as “a person who creates or generates models that leverage analytics but whose primary job function is outside of the field of spatial statistics and analytics.” That characterisation is broad enough to encompass Line of Business (LOB) staff, business analysts and employees in business intelligence (BI) and even IT – people who use your applications to work with spatial statistics and analytics, but not as their primary function.
Ingredients and Cooking Recipes for the Business Specialist
In order to put tools in the hands of the business specialist who knows what they want to achieve, they must be simple and intuitive – yet powerful enough to provide a full and rich toolset for satisfying the business specialist – giving him / her what they want. In this way, organisations can do away with dependency upon specialist software developers, and that in so doing free up so much financial resources. As a result, the Return On Investment figures for the organisation can become incredible.
The Building Block approach
Applying a wrapper around workflow building blocks (each block comprising powerful and fine granularity functionality), means that they can be used like Lego® bricks to build up new and business specific workflows, so removing the technical coding gap which can hold back organisations. It means that those who know the business requirements will be able to – without specifying requirements, engaging in project management programmes, bidding for budgets, or undergoing extensive procurement exercises – build tools / workflows which meet their business requirements and deploy them at will.
This approach is intended to revolutionise and transform the current arduous processes which organisations (particularly public sector) have to go through in order to effect change through application of technologies.
Making Geospatial part of the ‘every day’
Because I.T. becomes something in which interested individuals within business departments can then do for themselves, it means that I.T. becomes part of the business – rather than a remote and mystical thing which is treated as though it’s something external to their functional area. It eliminates the silo working mentality.
In effect, this means that ‘Business I.T. Alignment can be achieved by making this common platform available across the enterprise for configuration to meet their business reporting needs.