Whether you call it shadow IT, the democratization of IT, or business units taking responsibility for their own applications, there's no question that employees who aren't on the IT payroll are developing applications for the enterprise.
While business unit employees come to the development table with plenty of user and business process experience, they tend to not have skills in traditional programming languages or application development disciplines. For the IT professional, the question isn't whether this "out of IT" development is going to happen — that train has left the station. Rather, it's how to work with these business unit application developers to make sure the apps they build are functional, secure, and unlikely to bring down the rest of the enterprise IT infrastructure.
These aren't small considerations. When you go to industry gatherings, it's easy to find groups of executives talking about the way that "rogue" applications have opened vulnerabilities in enterprise databases or blown up the capacity planning models for mainframe hardware and software spending. All of that is quite true, and yet quite easily managed if IT acts to get ahead of the curve.
[ Shadow IT got you down? Read Shadow IT: 8 Ways To Cope. ]
One way to get ahead of the development curve is to play an active role in choosing the tools business units use when they're building their own applications. With a hand in tool selection, you can make sure that the applications built conform to company standards of functionality and security. Fortunately for IT managers, there are plenty of options available for building very solid apps. Unfortunately, there are A LOT of options available for building apps. Cutting through the clutter can be a major undertaking.
That's why we've done some of that clutter-cutting for you. We can't make the decision for you, but we can narrow the field a bit. We came up with seven candidates for packages or services that will let a department or workgroup build an application without having to build a talent pool filled with programmers.
Do understand that these aren't the only possible tools that are out there. With time (and no consideration for your willingness to click to new pages) we could easily have made this an article on "The 78 no-code application tools you need to consider." But we like you more than that. So we've narrowed it to seven, secure in the knowledge that we'll be hearing from representatives of the other 71 in the next week or so.
We are curious: Are you using any of these tools in your organization? Or are you using ones that we didn't include? Either way, we'd like to hear from you with your experience of how this class of tool can work in the enterprise. It's clear that application development no longer means learning to write code. The question now is how good the applications (and their work within the IT infrastructure) are going to be. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.