Citizen development will eat the world and possibly your organisation

No-code and low-code tools are the next battle frontier of the tech giants, as proven by Amazons recent entry. All the big boys have started to come out to play.  For the last two months, I have been working with Sunil Prashara, the CEO of PMI. He is writing a book about citizen development. I am learning a lot and had the opportunity to talk to some brilliant people. My biggest take is that citizen development is the most efficient and effective way to achieve true transformation.


The statistics are compelling.

  • By 2023, the number of active citizen developers at large enterprises will be at least four times the number of professional developers.
  • Low-code software development, Forrester found, helps developers make cloud-native applications more than 10-times faster (with 70% fewer resources)
  • Almost 50% of app development businesses have started using both low-code and no-code solutions for their business.
  • There are already predictions that by 2030, no-code and low-code will have a combined market share of nearly 60%.
  • Forrester expects the no-code/low-code market to reach $21.2 billion by 2022.
  • According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, spending on low-code software is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 28.1% from 2020 to 2025, or from $13.2 billion to $45.5 billion.
  • Gartner estimates that enterprise low-code application platforms will be 65% of all app creations within the next five years.
  • Microsoft anticipates that of the 500 million apps it expects will be created over the next five years, 450 million will be designed on low-code platforms.
  • 72% of IT leaders now say project backlogs prevent them from working on strategic projects.
  • Boston Consulting Group found that 93% of large IT projects with budgets greater than $10 million failed to deliver value to their organizations.
  • Cisco Systems estimates that a typical firm has 15 to 22 times more cloud applications than authorized by the IT department.
  • Gartner estimates that in the next 2-3 years, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for IT application development as well as citizen development initiatives.
  • 89% of open positions in computing cannot be filled with the talent on hand.

Software cant eat the world

The statistic that blows my mind is that only 0.5% of the worlds population is capable of coding. Software would like to eat the world, but we dont have enough software developers and IT specialists. Low code/no code is the solution for that skill shortage.

Automate routine

Citizen development or low code/no code allows anyone with a brain to build applications in near real-time. Which eventually will automate all the routine out of an organization. Allowing companies to finally only focus on customer engagement, creativity and innovation.

Democratization of business

The impacts of citizen development are going to be profound. It democratizes business and brings the power to the outer layers of the organization. The role of CEO, CFO, CMO will diminish, and the frontline staff will become increasingly important. Reminds me of Employees first, customer second


That also means that ethics and purpose become critical success factors. The BTP in Exponential organizations”. If your staff can execute solutions on the spot and in real-time, you want a common bond and a shared story.

Clock speed

It also means that the clock speed of your organization will improve. A key success factor as identified in The day after tomorrow”. Because command and control will disappear. Some experts suggest that the whole middle management layer will disappear. I think the ultimate consequence of introducing citizen development in an organization, is that it will become self-organizing. Read Reinventing organizations”.

Don´t miss the boat

I dont think as a CEO, you can afford to miss the boat. But you need to figure out issues such as governance, control, quality, implementation, but also leadership, communication, staff engagement and ultimately strategy. Hence the involvement of the Project Management Institute.

Work will change

The nature of work will change. Everything will become a project when all routine has been automated. A true project revolution. Another reason the Project Management Institute is involved.

The social dilemma

Sunil will cover it in his book, but there are many reasons why PMI is getting involved. They are the independent, vendor agnostic organization in the world that can play the role of steering this wave in the right direction. We dont want a movie like The social dilemma” about citizen development in a few years time.

With ability comes responsibility

You should want a manifesto and guiding principles. Because with ability comes responsibility. But you also want a community to share the lessons and learning. You want the training, you want the maturity models, you want the quality control, and you want the certification.


Already PMI is about the launch the first and only handbook about citizen development, which was developed by a wide range of experts from across the world. Drop me a line, if you want a copy.


The thinking of these experts is profound. Here are a few snippets:

  • Alwin Magimay of FTI and Joerg Erlemeir the ex COO of Nokia talk about applying a VC structure to citizen development and project management. Similar to The start-up way” by Eric Ries. Bringing intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship into the equation.
  • Chris Obdam of Betty Blocks and Mark de Armon of Outsytems talk about the importance of change management as part of introducing low-code/no-code.
  • Erik and Erik from TechRebels (Erik Euwe and Erik Tieleman) disagree and start at the top, but begin at the bottom. No change management but bottom-up enablement and innovation, where low code/no code is the tool.
  • Aman Kohli of DXC believes that we are overthinking this. It is not that complicated. Remember the iPhone and Blackberry. People will adopt citizen development because it is compelling, and it will become an unstoppable wave where all the issues identified will take care of itself.

Gymnastic organization

The best conversations are with Sunil Prashara about what he calls the gymnastic organization. Citizen development will supercharge agile. It is the amalgamation of the project revolution, citizen development and organizational design. A truly fluid organization. Based on structure, discipline, mastery, power skills and lots of practice. It reminds me of the principles of the special forces or the skill set of a Masterchef. Or the combination of both. I wrote about that before here.

Keep up to date

If you want to keep up to date about the world of citizen development, go to

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Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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