If you think programming is best left to people who know what they’re doing, Gartner’s latest research will make worrying reading.
According to its report titled Citizen Developers are Poised to Grow, 2011, Gartner is predicting that by 2014 so-called citizen developers will be building 25 percent of new business applications. The report goes on to warn IT departments that they need to get policies in place to control what’s happening or face the consequences.
The announcement about the report says:
"Gartner predicts that by 2014, at least a third of enterprises without formalized citizen developer governance policies will encounter substantial data, process integrity and security vulnerabilities."
Which translated into plain speak means it is going to be one terrible mess to mop up.
Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner, said that
"In the past, end user application development 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."
The report advises that rather than banning non-programmers from developing applications, the solution is to put in place a safe development where end-users can develop applications without causing risks to the company. Among the risks identified are the delegation of responsibility for failed projects to the IT department and the ignorance of best practices in security, performance, etc.
"If end-user developers are ignored, and they build applications without help or knowledge from the IT organization, then there is a real risk that they will fail miserably and create an unplanned burden for IT,"
said Eric Knipp, research director at Gartner.
"When an application is mission-critical — as often is the case with unmonitored tools used in business areas — the pain for the IT staff is even more acute."
Yes, I think we get the picture!
While most professional developers will have encountered end-users who create their own apps, the idea that there will be more of them creating more apps seems counter-intuitive.
In the days of Visual Basic 6 and straightforward macro languages for office applications, a non-programmer could get started on a project without knowing much. It’s a lot harder to fight your way in through the complexities of modern development environments. In addition, writing a quick VB app to run under Windows was one thing; writing an app for the cloud is a very different proposition. Gartner's conclusion on how to manage the potential problem makes sense; the figures for the scale of the problem seem way out of proportion.
The report is available from Gartner.