Blockchain, Generation Z and The Rise Of The Citizen Developer

News | May 21, 2018 By:

As Millennials grow into their peak professionally and the succeeding Generation Z starts their careers, the workforce will continue to swell with generations of employees who have never known a life without either an internet-connected personal computer or mobile device.

These digital natives are fluent in the language of technology and have an almost instinctive grasp of modern user interfaces. This growing sea change will introduce a whole new set of technology-forward soft skills that will exponentially accelerate organizational innovation in Information Age workplaces.

This set of technology soft skills will manifest as an emerging role called a “citizen developer.”

Citizen developers are an organizational class that can address business problems without the need for organizational IT departments to step in and solve those problems. The solutions created by this newer and broader developer class are easily reproducible and spread throughout the organization as best practices – in contrast with the single solutions that may be created by an organization’s IT department, which sometimes only offer a complex, one-time fix.

In a way, this is how IT-based change has occurred in organizations for as long as workers have had computers at their desks. Think of all the new productivity and technology-based solutions that came with professional users interfacing with Excel, Word and other parts of Microsoft’s Office Suite, and then the evolution of that relationship with cloud-based enterprise tools and software-as-a-service (SaaS) products like Google’s G Suite, Salesforce, Slack and Dropbox.

Now as we move ever deeper into the Information Age and into enterprise products that will make greater use of data science and Artificial Intelligence, it’s time to rethink the technical core competencies that will define those Information Age workers. How will this change the types of enterprise software we see, as well as what is created with that software?

The democratizing effect of shared solutions

Think of data science itself. This used to be an arcane and esoteric art – hard to access, expensive and only a few people in the world could really do it.
Close to the emerging role of the “citizen developer” is that of “citizen data scientist.” This is someone who can create advanced analytics or predictive models even if their primary job function is outside the field of statistics and analytics. According to Gartner, citizen data scientists will surpass regular data scientists in the amount of total advanced analysis produced by 2019.

As Internet technology has expanded to create layers of abstraction, these abstraction layers have facilitated a much wider group of people being able to use data science and other technology solutions to solve problems in the enterprise and elsewhere.

 Products like our own Chassis will continue to enter the marketplace and only further accelerate this drive toward empowering citizen developers. Meanwhile, core engineers will still be tasked with concentrating their energies on the most essential and technically complex tasks.

 Perhaps most importantly of all, an engaged citizen developer community merged with technology like the blockchain will reduce many of the concerns organizations have traditionally had with shadow IT, such as data security and incompatible collaboration.

 But can corporate culture really adapt?

 Another Gartner study from last year found that only 16 percent of respondents said that IT was fully involved with citizen development, while another 36 percent said IT mainly provides back-end support.

 Corporate culture finds itself at a crossroads when it comes to accepting and implementing this new approach to development for enterprise. Businesses cannot afford to be driven by the same fears or restrictions that have traditionally followed concepts like “citizen developers” and “shadow IT.” The world is quickly changing, in the enterprise and beyond.

Businesses that are slow to adapt to this coming tsunami will be more likely to drown in it.

The ability to leverage AI, the blockchain and the younger workforce’s technological agility and nimbleness will be the dividing line of enterprise success and failure for the next several years to come. #

About the author:

Albert Santalo is a computer scientist, Internet entrepreneur and angel investor with experience in high growth, venture-backed technology companies. His passion lies in designing products and building companies that disrupt traditional business models. He is an advocate for empowering entrepreneurs everywhere to build Silicon Valley technology companies in their local communities and was standing alongside President Obama at the signing of the Jobs Act in 2012. He is founder and CEO of 8base. He is also a board member and/or advisor to various technology ventures and has raised in excess of $100 million for his companies.

He is the former Chairman and CEO of CareCloud, a company he founded in 2009 that is working to modernize the antiquated healthcare industry with a cloud-based platform. CareCloud reached #127 on the 2014 Inc. 500 list and is backed by NVP, Intel Capital, First Data Corp. and others. Previously, he was Founder and CEO of Avisena, a revenue cycle management company for physicians. Prior to Avisena, he worked at the Hackett Group / Answerthink (NASDAQ: HCKT), a management consulting firm, where he served as a director in the IT Transformation and Strategy Practice. During his tenure at Answerthink, he worked with Global 2000 companies, assisting them with technology strategy and transformation initiatives.

He is the lead inventor and holds a U.S. patent for Avisena’s A/R Management Methodology. He holds a Master of Business Administration Degree from Florida International University. He is the recipient of the FIU 2004 Charles E. Perry Visionary Award for outstanding Alumni and was inducted to the FIU Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2006. He also is an active board member of Goodwill Industries of South Florida and is a member of Accelerated Growth Partners, Miami.