IT departments have a reputation for being territorial. They don’t want anyone from outside their four walls to stick their noses into the business of designing new applications or interfaces.
That was fine in the days when only IT staffers knew how to program, or how to do anything techie really. But today many other employees within an organization have good IT skills. Plus many new applications are so much easier to configure these days that you do not need a rocket scientist to figure things out.
So-called citizen developers can be designing apps for anything from marketing campaigns to sales catalogues, or tweaking and customizing cloud apps like Marketo or Salesforce. Where this gets sticky is when these apps have to be integrated into enterprise systems, which are rightly controlled by IT.
This is where there must be a peace agreement between IT and citizen developers. Organizations and their IT departments will accept the reality that applications will be bought, customized and integrated outside the realm of IT and find ways to work together. In the industry it is known as bimodal development. Gartner describes bimodal IT as the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery.
Mode 1 is the more traditional IT development including large enterprise projects, security policies, external users and regulatory compliance technology.
Mode 2 is the more adventurous opportunistic development, emphasizing agility and speed in order to rapidly deploy new ideas.
Development is taking place in both areas simultaneously, with applications geared for either long term, largescale projects in IT, or for spur of the moment small scale opportunities coming from citizen developers. Why not embrace both? You can have your long-term IT cake while still being able to eat your tasty “new-apps” cake too.
The business environment is too dynamic and competitive for systems that force enterprises to sacrifice one mode for the other. Fortunately, the dichotomy is starting to be addressed. While the two modes still exist separately, it is now possible to take advantage of both on the same platform. Whether you need a small tactical app right away or wish to develop a large scale strategic asset, you can have the best of both worlds on a single platform.
This is true bimodal IT and it will ensure that citizen developers and citizen integrators can co-exist peacefully with IT teams. That way everyone will deliver new applications and interfaces to speed the overall innovation quotient of the organization.