The next generation worker: The Citizen Developer

Insights on the behaviors and characteristics of an emerging class of technology users within the enterprise.

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Who will write the next application you use? You will.

Disruptive technologies have long changed how we conduct business – never more so than now with the proliferation of cloud and mobile technology. Adoption of these disruptive technologies is further fueled by an increase of Millennials entering the workplace – the first generation of knowledge worker who grew up using technology as part of their everyday lives.

As a result of these combined trends, we’re seeing a marked rise of a new class of knowledge worker within the organization known as the Citizen Developer. First coined by Gartner in 2009 to mean an “end user who creates new business applications for consumption by others”, the term is rapidly expanding to include almost any front-line employee with the need and desire to build their own applications to improve the way they work. Allowing their department or business to rapidly and easily track information, manage workflow, measure results and collaborate with workers, be it at their desk or on a mobile device.

The rise of the Citizen Developer within organizations of all sizes – including small start-ups to global enterprises – has the potential to dramatically impact both how businesses operate and how they empower their employees with technology. We’re just starting to see how organizations can benefit when they allow employees to determine which devices (BYOD – Bring Your Own Device) and enterprise apps (BYOA – Bring Your Own Apps) to do their daily work.

The following report and survey data is a deeper look at the Citizen Developer — who they are, how they think, how they operate. And most importantly, how they can play an instrumental role in making organizations more efficient and profitable.

We hope you enjoy the first of many reports like this from TrackVia.


Walker Fenton, SVP Product
TrackVia, Inc.



Report Overview

TrackVia conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers to learn more about this increasingly influential and growing community of Citizen Developers and how they are changing how business gets done. The following report summarizes the key findings.

Who is a Citizen Developer?

An emerging and growing community, Citizen Developers will play a key role in how businesses operate and how they find, buy and use technology within the enterprise.

Gartner describes Citizen Developers as people who create new business applications for use by others in the business. But what else do we know about them? What drives them? What successes are they having? In what ways are they emerging as business leaders?

Key attributes of a Citizen Developer include:

Citizen Developers tend to be younger

Citizen Developers Who Develop Custom Applications by AgeThose who develop their own applications tend to be younger. The survey revealed the largest population of Citizen Developers to be between the ages of 18-29. Survey respondents in this age bracket are 7 percent more likely to build their own enterprise applications than those in the 45-60 year old age bracket. This isn’t a huge surprise, as these are Millennials, people who grew up using technology. As a result, Millennials tend to be digital natives who are comfortable and confident in making decisions about technology and using it in both their personal and professional lives.


Citizen Developers are more ambitious

TrackVia’s survey revealed that Citizen Developers are more ambitious, more likely to grow in their careers and more like to earn more money. In short, the Citizen Developers are the alpha-dogs, the most likely to succeed.

Expected Promotions in Next 12 Months

Citizen Developers Move Up Career LadderFifty-three percent of Citizen Developers expect a promotion within the coming year compared to only 40 percent of non-Citizen Developers.

In addition, Citizen Developers were more likely to report having received a promotion recently. More than half of Citizen Developers reported having already been promoted versus 42 percent of non-Citizen Developers.

Moreover, Citizen Developers are much more likely to negotiate their salary when they join a company, with more than 50 percent negotiating their salary compared to only 40 percent of non-Citizen Developers.



Citizen Developers expect technology freedom

Citizen Developers best understand their software and application needs and expect IT to give them the freedom to use the best tools available on the market. Seventy-three percent of Citizen Developers expect to be able to modify and customize their work computer or laptop by adding software and applications whenever needed. For the non-Citizen Developer community, slightly more than half (54 percent) have the same expectation.

Also signifying that they know their own needs, Citizen Developers feel that they should have the freedom to choose the software and applications they use as part of their daily work. More than half of Citizen Developers say they are most qualified to make this choice, instead of IT or their manager.

Expectations for Customizing Work Computer and Laptop

Citizen Developers are less likely to engage with IT

Find Solutions Outside of IT/Citizen Developers' Communication PreferencesNon-Citizen Developers rely more on IT and management to choose their applications, with slightly more than one-third feeling as though the company, and not themselves, are the most qualified to make technology decisions.

Nearly two-thirds of Citizen Developers will go around IT to find technology solutions. Less than 40 percent of non-Citizen Developers are willing to find solutions by going around IT.


Citizen Developers crave collaboration

In addition to career ambitions, Citizen Developers also have preferences for how they communicate.

While nearly two-thirds of Citizen Developers prefer in-person communication with colleagues, they also demonstrate a preference for digital collaboration including email, chat and texting.

This research aligns with the idea that Millennials crave collaboration and team-based projects that include the opportunity to network and work side-by-side with coworkers at all levels, as well as through digital tools.

The Citizen Developer is open, collaborative and keeps an eye on the overall ‘big picture’ of the business, and will use a variety of tools to get the job done.


Citizen Developers are more likely to use personal apps at work

Use of Personal Apps in Workplace

When it comes to using technology, Citizen Developers are less likely to distinguish personal apps used in their personal lives from professional apps used in their work lives.

More than 56 percent of Citizen Developers reported using personal apps at work. Only 28 percent of non-Citizen Developers use personal apps at work.

This mindset also applies to technology devices. More than 70 percent of Citizen Developers use their own mobile devices at work compared to 50 percent of non-Citizen Developers.





Use of Personal Technology Devices in Workplace

Citizen Developer case study: DirecTV, John McGarvey

After several failed attempts using off-the-shelf software and faced with a possible two-year wait before the company’s IT department could develop an in-house solution, DirecTV resource manager, John McGarvey decided to build his own application, and turned to the Internet to begin his search. He eventually decided to build his application using TrackVia’s mobile and business application building solution.

Before he started, DirecTV’s IT department reviewed TrackVia’s platform to ensure that any data stored in the cloud-based solution would be secure from a risk and governance perspective. Within a few days, he was given the green light and began uploading data from spreadsheets he used to manage contractors. Despite not having any formal training in software coding, within a few hours, he was able to build his own custom application using the drag-and-drop user interface.

Despite not having any formal training in software coding, McGarvey was able to build his own custom application within a few hours. As a result, McGarvey and his group at DirecTV are more productive and the company has saved thousands of dollars.

McGarvey then spent a few more hours fine-tuning his application, customizing it to fit his precise needs, as well as making it mobile optimized. Once complete, he deployed his application to co-workers and colleagues. About 20 people within DirecTV now use his TrackVia application.

As a result of building his own application using TrackVia, John has concluded that his group is not only more productive, but the application cost far less than the software he was using previously, saving the company thousands of dollars.


TrackVia’s research reveals the majority of Citizen Developers are rising professionals on the path to being tomorrow’s business leaders. They are demanding flexible enterprise applications, built by them for them, instead of waiting for IT to provide alternatives that are less efficient and that cut down on productivity. This mindset may threaten the traditional business software giants — including next generation enterprise companies.

The role of the Citizen Developer is affecting everything from how inventory gets tracked, to how much control IT has over the tools and enterprise applications used across the workplace. This empowered enterprise is changing the way business is conducted – for the better, and shifting the power from enterprise-instilled applications.

Corporate leaders have the opportunity to empower Citizen Developers within their organizations and to ensure that they have the technology needed to improve productivity and workplace efficiencies. This isn’t about having IT invest in large-scale enterprise applications, but rather looking for opportunities to replace older, bloated enterprise programs with innovative systems developed by internal Citizen Developers. As corporations continue the trend of embracing the trend, Citizen Developers will continue to lead the effort and continue to emerge as business leaders.


TrackVia surveyed over 1,000 workers March 2014 through an online survey. Responses were collected from both male and female respondents, ages 18 to 55, in the United States. Responses were random, voluntary and anonymous. The survey consisted of approximately 20 questions, using multiple option questions with one or more answers.

Resources Overview


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