Digital transformation is no longer optional, regardless of which industry a business operates in. In 2019, nearly 70% of companies cited digital transformation as their top IT priority, and McKinsey estimates that COVID-19 has sped up digital adoption by seven years, meaning it’s now even more of a business imperative. Agility and the ability to drive innovation are critical for organisations to stay relevant, however, most are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of digital transformation. Nine out of 10 businesses have faced at least one barrier in their digital transformation efforts, with 86% of IT decision makers citing a lack of developers as their biggest challenge.
As business demand builds up for new technologies, it is simultaneously becoming harder to find candidates with high code developer skills. It is estimated the UK will require 1.5 million additional people with ‘advanced’ digital skills in the next two years, and earlier this year, the Learning & Work Institute warned the UK is heading towards a digital skills shortage disaster. Organisations are racing to address pent up demand for digital transformation, reimagine business processes, and drive better business outcomes. However, overcoming the skills crisis is easier said than done.
National Coding Week 2021: addressing the digital skills gap
Pressure on developers is rising
Existing developers and IT departments are under increasing pressure. While business leaders are keen to drive forward digital transformation, the IT teams tasked with carrying out projects face numerous barriers to success. The data silos and legacy technologies present in most of today’s organisations complicate transformation, and the skills shortage means organisations struggle to recruit additional developers. As a result, existing teams are expected to add digital projects to their already busy workloads.
Development teams often begin each project from scratch, tasked with creating APIs, building apps, shaping data, and automating processes. This makes transformation even more complex and time consuming. With a lack of time, resources, and manpower, innovation is almost impossible for IT teams. They simply don’t have the capacity to meet the scope of work, end up facing backlogs and features and solutions are shaved off to save time, cost, and resources — this all culminates in 87% of digital transformation projects failing to meet their original objectives. Technical debt rises, return on investment (RoI) falls, the demand for new technologies is never fully addressed, and organisations are left unable to transform business processes at the rate needed.
Help is on the horizon
In April 2021, there were nearly 10,000 vacancies for software developers, making it one of the most in-demand jobs in the UK. This skills gap and the ever increasing digital demands placed on organisations by customers is driving a movement led by citizen developers. Technically minded individuals within an organisation – the citizen developers – are able to build business apps using drag and drop application components on no code platforms, without formal tech training, which can aid digital transformation efforts.
These platforms enable employees to develop new applications that help streamline existing business processes, and do not require individuals to write their own code. Citizen developers can help organisations alleviate the strain on existing development teams, overcome the skills gap, and deliver faster innovation. However, the no code platforms that facilitate this are not a panacea. They do not provide the integration and automation needed to embed applications into everyday processes, a task that inevitably circles back to high code developers. They are also rarely optimised to integrate with the legacy environments most businesses continue to rely on.
Shoring up business continuity with citizen developers
A winning combination
To truly become more agile and achieve valuable digital transformation, businesses should look at how they can empower citizen developers and provide them with the tools they need to be most effective. A no code apps and automation fabric are a perfect combination to help citizen developers maximise their efforts. This approach helps organisations overcome integration challenges, as the fabric can be woven into an organisation to enable the control of any system, the shaping of any data, and delivery of any process. This addresses the problem of data silos between legacy systems, modern applications and APIs, while also providing the building blocks used by citizen developers to create no code apps. These can be used to solve a variety of business problems – from collecting and organising data to creating more complex self-service portals for customers.
A no code apps and automation fabric approach democratises IT and removes the burden on high code developers to integrate and embed no code apps into everyday processes. Citizen developers can drive innovation across the entire organisation, with digital transformation no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department, reducing pressure on existing developers.
Breaking the barriers
Digital transformation is a business imperative, but overcoming the talent shortage is critical to making digital projects a success and addressing pent up demand for new technologies. While this can be difficult to overcome, it is not impossible. Organisations must look at combining citizen developers with a no code apps and automation fabric approach. This will enable them to build enterprise-ready apps that can be integrated with automation projects to truly transform their business processes and drive innovation for the organisation.