Embracing Rapid Transformation in a Decade of Change: Citizen Developers and Demographic Shifts

Scott Willson



The world is experiencing unprecedented change, as the geopolitical landscape is rapidly shifting due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and demographic changes are and will rapidly reshape societies worldwide in this decade. Quickly delivering differentiating value is more important than ever in such turbulent times. The concept of citizen developers, as discussed in a ServiceNow article, is a prime example of how businesses and individuals can adapt to thrive in a world undergoing transformation.

This blog will explore the advantages of encouraging citizen development amidst broader global changes, referencing insights from Amlan Roy's "Demographics Unravelled" and Peter Zeihan's "The End of The World Is Just The Beginning."


The Rise of Citizen Developers


It is no secret that ServiceNow has been proselyting the importance of citizen developers, who are non-IT professionals empowered to build applications and services to meet their organizations' needs. These individuals help to deliver digital transformation and drive innovation by leveraging low-code and no-code platforms, like ServiceNow, to expand the feature/function capacity of the organization. This new era of low-code and no-code platforms parallels the broader shifts occurring worldwide, as individuals and organizations must adapt quickly to remain competitive amidst evolving geopolitical and demographic changes.


Geopolitical Changes


As Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the lockdowns of 2020 demonstrate, the world is becoming increasingly unpredictable. Organizations must be agile and adaptable to navigate the complexities of remaining competitive in response to global change. Citizen developers can play a crucial role in this process, as they can provide additional capacity to innovate and respond to new challenges and opportunities.


Demographic Shifts


The 2020s will undoubtedly be shaped by significant demographic changes, as highlighted by both Amlan Roy's and Peter Zeihan's books. Amlan demonstrates how demographic changes, such as aging populations and declining fertility rates, will create new business challenges as well as new opportunities. For example, as the workforce ages and the number of workers in developed countries declines, organizations must find innovative ways to maintain productivity and growth. Citizen developers can play a crucial role in creating applications and services responding to the coming demographic shifts and helping businesses adapt to a decrease in workforce size.


Peter similarly explores the impact of demographic change on the global stage, arguing that the world is entering a period of "Great Unraveling." This term refers to the disintegration of the international order as countries face internal and external pressures from demographic shifts, such as aging populations, economic stagnation, and geopolitical tensions. In this context, citizen developers can build resilience and foster innovation by helping organizations navigate these challenges and capitalize on the emerging opportunities resulting from these shifts.


The Need for Speed and Differentiation


In a world characterized by geopolitical uncertainty and demographic change, delivering differentiating value quickly will be more challenging than before because you can't simply through more bodies at the problem by hiring a GSP or MSP. Why? Because GSPs and MSPs, and other partners will also face the same changes and challenges. Amlan writes, "The demographic changes of the 2020s will require a new set of skills and a new way of thinking" (Roy, 2021, p. 154). In this context, citizen developers can provide a much-needed competitive edge as they may enable organizations to develop and deploy at levels similar to today.


Moreover, as Peter emphasizes, "the challenges of the 2020s will require more than just speed; they will demand an entirely new perspective on the world" (Zeihan, 2021, p. 232). The citizen developer movement fosters diversity of thought by empowering non-IT professionals to build applications and services. It encourages creative problem-solving, which is essential in navigating the complex challenges of the 2020s and 30s.


In this time of change, businesses and organizations must embrace the potential of citizen developers to continue to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and respond to the evolving needs of a shifting global landscape. As both Amlan Roy and Peter Zeihan suggest, the 2020s will be a decade of transformation, necessitating new approaches to problem-solving and collaboration.




The importance of adaptability and innovation is not hyperbole as the world grapples with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the aftermath of the 2020 lockdowns, and this decade's current and coming demographic shifts. The rise of citizen developers may be an answer to helping organizations thrive in a transforming world. By leveraging citizen developers, businesses bring additional cognitive capacity to navigate geopolitical and demographic challenges and deliver differentiating value to maintain a competitive edge in an uncertain era.

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