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Australia's productivity boost: fostering citizen developers
Mon, 22nd Jan 2024

Australia’s productivity growth, which is linked to prosperity and living standards, has slumped to a 60-year low, with the Productivity Commission saying in its latest five-year report that improving labour skills and the adoption and application of technology and data by organisations would be critical to boost productivity. 

Automation technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced robotics, are already presenting an enormous opportunity to restore Australia’s productivity slump. McKinsey & Company claims automation has the potential to add $2.2 trillion to the nation’s economy in the next 15 years. 

Despite these benefits, business leaders continue to grapple with how to implement automation. The secret sauce, according to a recent IDC survey, is to empower business users who have a deep knowledge of their operational pain points to be able to automate processes that will create the highest return on investment for them and the organisation as a whole. 

This is why it is no surprise that citizen development is on the rise globally – and to supercharge productivity growth and scale automation projects, Australia needs to join the movement. 

Who are citizen developers? 

Citizen development has been a buzzword for enterprises since Gartner analysts declared, “We’re all developers now.” It is a concept focused on encouraging non-IT professionals to create their own often complex business applications using low-code and no-code platforms. These are typically regular employees who don’t have formal coding or technical experience but can think critically and enjoy a challenge. As a result, employees make their own workloads more manageable and productive. 

Citizen developers play a crucial role in helping organisations adapt and scale technologies to move digital transformation forward. The approach is cost-effective and offers an individualised solution to an organisation that needs to streamline the development of its business applications and processes to improve productivity. An additional benefit is that this approach becomes a foundation and driver of innovation without the need to heavily rely on IT departments, who are usually under immense pressure to keep the lights on. 

How citizen development improves productivity 

According to a Forrester Consulting paper commissioned by UiPath, “The world has seen more digital transformation in the past months than in the preceding five years.” As this transformation accelerates further, companies that leverage citizen developers who use low-code platforms will be in the best position to expand the benefits of this transformation. The future of work will emerge from business processes and workflows that already exist; it will offer new solutions to old problems; it will involve new people, newly empowered. If you want to know the future of work, trace it back to its likely origins: automation and low code

A wealth of low-code and no-code tools are being added to technology tool stacks every day. According to a Gartner report, 70% of new applications built by organisations will rely on tools such as UiPath’s AI-powered automation platform by 2025. Access to these types of tools makes it possible for non-IT professionals to build simple but efficient automation to support their role, their teams, and even entire departments. This capability improves employee productivity by: 

  • Increasing job satisfaction and efficiency through empowering non-IT professionals to revolutionise the way they work 
  • Improving business and IT collaboration 
  • Reducing the workload of IT departments, making room for higher-priority work that needs strategic expertise 
  • Fast-tracking digital transformation. 

To start leveraging the power of citizen development, it is best to start with a pilot program involving a small team that will gain the biggest return on investment from automation. In many cases, this is often the finance team in areas such as accounts payable. From here, it becomes easy to expand the citizen developer program to other areas of the business. 

As technology continues to advance at breakneck speed, embracing a citizen developer culture will be key to organisational survival over the long term. This can only be achieved by democratising access to technology and enabling a broader set of experts to co-create business applications and processes, which in turn will lead to more productive organisations and a more productive society.