As the technology employed by modern organizations increases in scope and complexity, making use of citizen integrators is one way to make better use of internal resources. 

Low-code/no-code platforms such as ServiceNow are common targets for citizen integration, as organizations seek to extend similar low-code/no-code benefits to the way they connect systems.

However, relying on citizen integrators has clear limitations

What is a Citizen Integrator?

A Citizen Integrator is a non-technical team member or “business user” that uses low-code/no-code platforms to connect applications and systems. 

Typically, Citizen Integrators have another primary role within the organization (such as Marketing, Finance, etc), and will integrate solutions that relate to their role.

Despite lacking technical expertise, they understand their industry’s processes, workflows, and data, allowing them to identify and address integration needs. 

Their lack of technical expertise means they rely on pre-built integrations/integration platforms – typically point-to-point – to integrate applications, with limited or no IT support. 

Integration platforms for citizen integrators are low-code/no-code software, with a graphical user interface (GUI). Capabilities such as drag-and-drop input allow citizen integrators to create integrations without needing experience with code. 

The aim of utilizing citizen integration is to connect applications and systems without a heavy reliance on development resources. This way, developers can be more efficiently utilized on more value-adding tasks.

However, this aim isn’t always fully realized by citizen integrators, as issues often require expertise to troubleshoot and correct. When such expertise isn’t available, the amount of operational disruption increases, data availability is limited and technical debt can quickly build up.

Integration outsourcing is another, more consistent approach that serves to meet similar aims. As such, organizations should carefully consider whether citizen integrators or integration outsourcing is better suited to their circumstances. 

Why Organizations Turn to Citizen Integrators

The ever-increasing pressure on IT teams to meet business needs leads to backlogs, with system integration demands often taking a backseat. 

Thus, many organizations now find it beneficial to democratize integration by delegating the task to citizen integrators.

Today, an increasing number of organizations across industries are exploring citizen integration and leveraging low-code/no-code technologies to alleviate the IT burden.

Speaking to its growing popularity, in 2023, Gartner predicted that 50% of organizations would have a team dedicated to supporting citizen integration. 

How ServiceNow Supports Citizen Integrators

In the IntegrationHub, ServiceNow has their own application that can support citizen integration. 

ServiceNow’s inbuilt Integration Hub (IH) is an API-enabled, GUI based integration platform that allows citizen integrators to connect ServiceNow with other systems. 

How ServiceNow Supports Citizen Integrators

Citizen integrators can use pre-built “spokes” to connect ServiceNow to other solutions. To support the creation of new spokes, ServiceNow provides the Spoke Generator application that provides a guided, no-code experience for generating new spokes.  

But there’s a catch – guided experiences are guarded experiences. Usually, the platform’s creator establishes pre-defined uses (rules) for their product to keep things simple.

As such, integrations available to citizen integrators tend to address only basic requirements.

While the solution does allow custom spokes to be built that can address more complex demands, doing so requires development experience. 

Limitations of Citizen Integrations

Citizen integration will not be suitable for every organization, or for every project. Particularly when creating applications and solutions where high data availability is a must, and where on-going operational disruption is extremely costly.

As such, organizations must be aware of the limitations of citizen integrators and citizen integration:

Limited functionality

Citizen integrator platforms provide pre-established capabilities as to not exclude business-users from participation. However, this means that an organization’s particular needs cannot be readily accounted for.

Customization that adds to the capabilities of the solution will typically require development experience, undermining the aim of introducing citizen integration. 

Citizen integrator platforms also tend to be point-to-point, so organizations that wish to connect one solution to many different targets have to introduce many different integrations. 

As well as the time required to implement such integrations, introducing many point-to-point integrations can affect the performance of the primary system, particularly when the integration solution is API-based

In this scenario, many external API calls must be made to the primary system, consuming the system’s resources in the process.

Lack of expertise

As they are typically an end-user of integrated systems, citizen integrators’ understanding of their role and its requirements helps them understand the processes associated with the integration’s targets. However, they are not integration experts. 

As such, they do not possess the technical expertise or knowledge to efficiently address – or even find the source of – issues when they arise. This, again, demands the intervention of internal IT resources. 

Also, since citizen integrators often lack a fundamental understanding of ITOps and application development processes, they may fail to consider data security implications. This may put sensitive data in a vulnerable state. 

When integrating key systems, organizations should instead consider utilizing the end-user of systems in an advisory role, making contributions such as helping with gathering integration requirements

Internal resources are needed to maintain the integration

Whether by a citizen integrator or an experienced developer, maintenance of an integration platform is an inevitability. The platform or connected systems will need to be updated, issues that arise will need to be troubleshooted and corrected, etc. 

If the goal behind introducing citizen integration is to relieve pressure on internal teams, then integration outsourcing should be considered as a more appropriate alternative. 

GUI/Drag-and-drop customization is inefficient

Citizen integrators can use low-code/no-code capabilities such as drag-and-drop to connect systems and applications. However, this isn’t a scalable solution, especially when compared with developers using command line interfaces to create code to support integrations.

Further Considerations Before Opting for Citizen Integration 

Organizations considering utilizing citizen integration should consider the following: 

No-code =/= no-complexity

While third-party citizen integrator platforms offer a low-code/no-code approach to implementing new integrations rapidly, configuring and maintaining such integrations is complex and time-consuming.

Users must combine multiple actions and building blocks to design end-to-end processes for basic tasks. Often, implementing integrations that meet the organization’s requirements involves a time-consuming process of piecing together several workflows and phases.

Complexity increases as new integrations are added, as each integration and its connected systems require maintenance. 

Performance impact

Implementing a series of pre-built, API-based integrations can cause performance degradation. API-based integrations compete with the primary system’s operational bandwidth, slowing down queries and instances when transferring huge data volumes.

It leads to slower report generation, unresponsive dashboards, and other symptoms of poor performance. 

This forces organizations to employ ill-advised workarounds like reporting outside of operational hours

Technical debt

Investing in platforms for citizen integration can lead to a significant technical debt if the organization is not equipped to effectively support the initiative. As such, organizations without a team dedicated to supporting citizen integration should think carefully before making the commitment. 

Additionally, attempting to utilize citizen integrators to connect business critical systems, or to build make-shift connections to support complex integrations can also lead to a significant technical debt. 

Attempting to go ahead with citizen integration before realizing that integration outsourcing was the more appropriate choice is a costly mistake, and one that should be avoided. 

If Citizen Integration Isn’t Right for You, Consider Integration Outsourcing

Whether organizations choose to delegate their integration needs to citizen integrators or build custom integrations in-house, maintaining and implementing integrations internally is challenging and replete with hidden costs.

But with integration outsourcing, organizations have a cost-effective and sustainable option for implementing and maintaining integrations.

In Perspectium, ServiceNow users have an integration outsourcing service that is a trusted partner of, and integration service provider to ServiceNow.

Meaning that we don’t just help ServiceNow users integrate the ITSM platform with third-party solutions, we also help ServiceNow themselves integrate their internal ServiceNow instances

Perspectium was created by the founding developer of ServiceNow, who used his intimate knowledge of the platform to create a means of integrating and replicating data that overcomes the platform and its user’s common challenges. 

Perspectium’s API-free solution avoids impacting performance of the platform by utilizing Push technology for greater throughput.

It allows organization’s to transfer massive amounts of data out of ServiceNow, and into third-party systems for reporting, analysis, business intelligence, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more. 

This means tasks that require extensive querying of ServiceNow data can be done outside of the ServiceNow platform, improving and maintaining ServiceNow’s performance as a result. 

After implementing, Perspectium’s ServiceNow integration experts support the integrations 24/7×365. Thus, organizations can dedicate their internal resources to other critical areas while enjoying high data availability, self-service access, faster time-to-value, and improved operational resilience.

Do you think you might benefit from integration outsourcing? Talk to us

ServiceNow users can also contact us to request a free integration consultation.

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