The Future Workplace: Every Employee as an AI Creator and User

The rise of citizen developers: How an army of amateurs could now be hired in 2024

For years, there has been speculation about the so-called “citizen developer” and how much they could really build for themselves, and the actual productivity of their work. After all, it’s often left to IT department staff to clean up the messes.

The time could be ripe for a blurring of the lines between developers and end-users, a recent report out of Deloitte suggests. It makes more business sense to focus on bringing in citizen developers for ground-level programming, versus seeking superstar software engineers, the report’s authors argue, or — as they put it — “instead of transforming from a 1x to a 10x engineer, employees outside the tech division could be going from zero to one.”

Future applications are likely to be built on English or natural-language commands, versus Python or Java, they predict.

Adding to the growth of citizen developers is the likelihood that all employees will soon be technology employees. AI — and related advanced analytics — represent the future economy and its opportunities.

Employees recognize what the future holds and are building their tech skills, the survey shows. These skills are the most pursued upskill with 43% of workers currently learning software, apps, AI, or coding and data science.

Depending on the pace of automation, “more employees should carry out basic technology tasks in the years to come or simply oversee automated digital processes,” says Deloitte. As these more basic workloads are shifted to non-core or non-IT employees. “experienced engineers can focus on the highly complex tasks and novel builds on which they’re excited to work.”

Companies often hope “to hire 10x engineers, those who are 10 times as productive as the average developer,” the Deloitte authors point out. “But searching for unicorns in the talent market is rarely a winning strategy.”

Automated platforms and generative AI — leveraged within an open and supportive corporate culture — may amplify many human skills, they continue. “10x engineers could become much less rare. Especially as generative AI continues to bolster developer productivity and opens up a future of increased workplace automation, many of today’s hindrances may not be relevant in the next five to 10 years.”

It’s all about fostering a superior “developer experience,” not just within IT shops, but across the enterprise as well. “As technology itself continues to become more and more central to the business, technology tasks and required talent will likely become central as well. Standardized tools and platforms — as well as advanced low- or no-code tech — may one day enable all employees of a business to become low-level engineers.”