Business IT users are increasingly looking outside the IT department for application development and in many cases are building applications themselves, according to Gartner.
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"End-user application development 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, end-user application development posed limited risks to the organisation 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 organisations to empower end users and releases IT resources, it also heightens the risks of end-user application development."
Rather than ban users from writing applications or creating mash-ups of applications, Gartner analysts urge IT departments to build a citizen-developer support programme
"End-user application development is being transformed by several converging forces, including changing workforce demographics, the mass customisation and maturation of service-oriented architecture, simplified tools for new development and the power of cloud computing for delivering IT capabilities to end users with no IT assistance," said Eric Knipp, research director at Gartner.
Although there is great potential for user application development to provide value, the risks to the business of poorly managed (or unmanaged) user application development can be severe. Gartner predicts that, by 2014, at least a third of businesses without formalised citizen developer governance policies will encounter substantial data, process integrity and security vulnerabilities.
Gartner recommends IT leaders work with the business to identify just-enough governance to enable and protect citizen developers.
"If end-user developers are ignored, and they build applications without help or knowledge from the IT organisation, then there is a real risk that they will fail miserably and create an unplanned burden for IT," Eric Knipp said.
Gartner's report, Citizen Developers Are Poised to Grow, is available on Gartner's website >>