In my last two blog posts, I talked about how the introduction of PowerApps and Flow into Office 365 are empowering business users to create mobile applications and workflows through a rich web interface.
These savvy business users have been around for some time now, solving business problems through technology quickly without needing to get assistance from IT. Gartner Research describe them as:
“A citizen developer is a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and run-time environments sanctioned by corporate IT. In the past, end-user application development has typically been limited to single-user or work-group solutions built with tools like Microsoft Excel and Access. However, today, end users can build departmental, enterprise and even public applications using shared services, fourth-generation language (4GL)-style development platforms and cloud computing services.
So they are nothing new, however, with the rise of cloud based services there is a new kid on the block, the Citizen Integrator.
Historically, integration between different systems required specialist knowledge and resulted in lots of custom code, systems simply were not designed to talk outside their own system boundaries. The introduction of web services helped ease the complexity of integration by introducing common data transfer formats such as XML or JSON but this still required come custom code to be able to access the data via these web services.
As I mentioned before, cloud services have since arrived like Microsoft Flow, that makes connecting to these systems incredibly simple, no code required, just login to your required service and configure an action using a simple wizard. This is an incredibly powerful feature, as you can connect many systems together through a Flow without having to write any code.
But beware… “with great power, comes great responsibility” as the saying goes, as systems get more open and accessible over the internet, it is incredibly easy for integration to get out of control, so whilst it is great that business users can do this, governance needs to be in place to help ensure that the integration taking place within your organisation is controlled.