Answer: You need to be a Citizen Developer

People might consider my job to be about technology because we develop ‘technical solutions’ from databases to apps that allow a business to function on the go. And of course it’s true that technology is at the core of what we do. Our specialist skills, on paper at least, lie in the technology domain.

But the reality today is that technology defines business and how it’s done. It’s true for the majority of information workers, relying not only on a PC but also a host productivity applications, through to those on the manufacturing production line whose every action is influenced by the technology around them.

Business is technology

What this means is that unless you’ve developed a very niche specialism, as a technology specialist you’re also a business specialist. When we develop solutions, we’re developing solutions to business challenges. These allow an entire workforce to concentrate on being productive and profitable, not on worrying about the systems they’re using. Tech for tech’s sake will never deliver the ROI that a smart business solution can.

Personally I don’t see tech know-how and business acumen as mutually exclusive. If you’re not thinking about how the end user can benefit and what change it can facilitate, the technology you’re developing will probably not add the value it could. In my world this commerciality is absolutely key to the people I hire. If someone can thrive in complex coding projects they’re hugely useful in a project. If they can create a simple and effective solution to a real problem that’s facing a customer, they’re invaluable.

Hands-on with tech

Because of this ethos, FileMaker developers have become a key part of the work we do. FileMaker creates huge opportunities for business-minded people to forge a successful and impactful career as a solution finder. They become that person who can solve a frustrating problem or perhaps even double profitability. As a result the lines between ‘techies’ and ‘business people’ are really going to start to blur.

If you want to run an innovative company today, it’s not about focusing on building a hierarchy below you. It’s about finding ways to do things better or to create things that really capture people’s imaginations. And 99% of the time that’s built on technology. I believe we’re increasingly going to see a real competitive advantage for those ‘business people’ who are also hands-on technology people. So for those of us in technology, if we’re going to keep pace as expert problem solvers, we need to make sure that we’re always keeping commerciality front of mind.