By Johan den Haan
The demand for custom software has never been higher. There is an app for managing nearly every aspect of our lives, personally and professionally, and the enterprise is particularly hungry for more. Yet CIOs are painfully aware that the demand far exceeds their current ability to deliver. A recent CIO.com poll of more than 500 IT chiefs found that application development is among the top skill set shortages anticipated in 2015. Because of this, there is an urgent need for a new breed of “low-code developer” who isn’t a coder by trade, but can build apps quickly—before business opportunities pass.
So what are the defining traits of low-code developers? Not traditional programming experience. In fact, as industry analyst firm Forrester Research notes, low-code developers, or rapid developers as they’re also known, “prefer not to code; coding takes too long. They value graphical, automated tools for creating applications … [and] want to deliver major applications in weeks—days if possible.”
To harness the power of these tools, low-code developers must have one leg in IT and the other in the business. This means they have some technical skills but also possess domain knowledge and are good communicators. Moreover, they prioritize solving business problems over technical details. And they’re creative self-starters interested in tackling new projects. In practice, low-code developers come from a wide range of backgrounds—maybe even yours.
Does the low-code developer role sound exciting and appealing to you? Here are five signs that you’re a low-code developer and just don’t know it yet:
You Studied Computer Science but Aren’t Interested in Being a ‘Coder’
You understand how software works and the core principles of software development but you don’t particularly enjoy coding. You’re not interested in learning five to 10 existing coding languages—let alone every trendy language that comes along. Instead of worrying about missing a comma somewhere, you’d rather focus on building great solutions to business problems.
Your Current Role Sits Somewhere Between IT and the Business
You’ve got a technically savvy mind and a sound understanding of logic, but you also have business process/domain expertise, and the ability to articulate and define requirements. You’re a business analyst or systems analyst looking to make the next jump in your career—from gathering requirements to bringing them to life.
You’ve Tinkered With Excel, Access or Lotus Notes
You’ve tried to solve a problem using the tools available to you. Perhaps some of these ad hoc solutions were adopted by your department or company, while others never saw the light of day. Either way, you have a proclivity toward using technology to solve problems and with the right tools, you can make a dramatic impact.
You’re Customer Focused and Open to Feedback—Lots of It
You enjoy working with people and always focus on what the “customer” needs—external or internal. You’re satisfied only when they are, and rather than work in isolation, you’re eager to listen to, and collaborate closely with, your customers to deliver what they need.
You Don’t Accept the Status Quo
You’re open, curious and persistent. You believe there’s always a better way and you’re willing to go out and find it. You’re constantly looking for better, faster ways to deliver results and add value to your company.
If some or most of these traits resonate with your approach to work, then you’ve got what it takes to be a low-code developer. In this role, you’d understand that software development is about reaching the business goal and helping end users. You’d want to talk to users, understand their requirements and work closely with them in short, iterative cycles. Most of all, you’d advocate for the business value of IT and find great job satisfaction from making your customers and end users happy.
Johan den Haan is the CTO at Mendix, where he leads the company’s overall technical strategy and research & product development teams. Johan is a speaker and blogger on a range of topics, including PaaS, model-driven development, scrum, cloud computing and software engineering.
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