Want next-gen tech and processes? Look outside IT for support – CIO Dive

The shift toward citizen developers is not about leaving IT out of the mix. Instead, technology advances are made through business and IT co-creation.
Despite the allure for leaders, companies have persistently struggled to move automation from the pilot stage to enterprise-grade implementations. But the harder piece of the puzzle is how to reengineer business processes with automation in mind. 
Organizations wanting to automate have ideal allies in their business technologists, said Jason Wong, distinguished VP Analyst, speaking at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Thursday. 
“Ultimately, when it comes to automation, there has to be a shared IT and business outcome,” Wong said. “That’s really what’s going to drive success here.”
Gartner expects organizations to lower operational costs 30% by 2024 through a combination of hyperautomation technologies and redesigned operational processes. The analyst firm defines hyperautomation as a business driven, disciplined approach that lets organizations identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.
“Companies need to really reach beyond IT to deliver groundbreaking technologies and business capabilities,” said Wong. “In our study of how companies are achieving this, through what we call business technologists, we found that there’s already huge participation of business users in this endeavor.” 
On average, one in four employees in large organizations are business technologists, according to Gartner. Essentially, the concept represents all workers who use tools to create technology work or output but are outside the IT organization, Wong said.
“They’re doing some serious work,” said Wong. Business technologists integrate the applications they work with, design analytical models, create algorithms, and user interfaces to make it more productive.
The impact of business technologists is also spread across multiple teams, which accelerates the upside to their work in automation, Wong said.
By 2024, Gartner expects the number of citizen developers, another term for business technologists, to be four times larger than the number of professional developers at large enterprises. 
This growth signals opportunity for organizations seeking tech-enabled efficiency — but it also means leaders must learn to manage them properly. 
“You have to cooperate with these business technologists … and you have to co-own the solutions and technologies with them,” Wong said. “And then you also have to co-create. As CIOs and IT leaders, the teams have to be co-creating with them and not just ignoring them or brushing them off as some side project.”
Half of business technologists craft products that then get adopted by employees outside their department or company, a sign of the multiplying effect of business technologist work.
“Innovation does not happen anymore from the top down,” said David DeWolf, president and CEO of 3Pillar Global.
Some of the highest-valued companies in the world are “incubated by individuals on the ground,” said DeWolf. “The trick to innovation is actually figuring out, how do you support that ecosystem versus trying to control that ecosystem? Control is actually what prevents innovation.”
Critics of the business technologist function say their work can lead to disjointed IT implementations and shadow IT.
Instead of labeling non-IT tech as shadow IT, leaders must see it as their job to equip workers with the frameworks, tool, standards and guidelines that help them be successful, DeWolf said. “And do it in a way that is prudent for the organization.”
An assessment of the top-performing one-third of business developers showed the probabilities of success increase when business technologists have access to technical resources — from access to APIs to integration with databases, or simply to subject matter experts within the organization.
“You have to co-create,” Wong said. “You have to ensure that what the business builds can be supported by IT, or what IT builds can also be passed onto the business in terms of supporting the maintenance and any updates to it.”
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Technology's business value elevated CIOs to strategic partners, pushing them to take a more customer-centric view of tech implementation.
Markus Spiske
Technical debt erodes the productivity of a software development team, calling on engineers to repair the quick fixes of the past.
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Technology's business value elevated CIOs to strategic partners, pushing them to take a more customer-centric view of tech implementation.
Markus Spiske
Technical debt erodes the productivity of a software development team, calling on engineers to repair the quick fixes of the past.
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