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Jonathan Reichental, CIO, City of Palo AltoAs part of our series of articles on the IT skills gap, low code, and citizen development, we’ve been interviewing a series of customers, influential thinkers and IT leaders. One of those leaders is Jonathan Reichental, currently the Chief Information Officer for the city of Palo Alto. Reichental is a multiple award-winning technology leader, and was named one of the top 100 CIOs in the world in 2017.

We had a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion on the circumstances that led to today’s IT skills gap, his work as CIO of the city of Palo Alto to bridge that gap, and his thoughts on how companies can leverage low-code development and citizen development in their own response to the challenge.

The full, in-depth interview is available on the Salesforce Newsroom. Below are three key extracts from the discussion:

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution demands a different set of skills.

Go back 100 years and a huge proportion of our society is either working on a farm or working in a factory. Hardly anyone works on farms any more — we have machines that do the work humans used to do. Our factories are massively automated with mass production technologies.

So as we’ve moved through the First Industrial Revolution all the way into this Fourth Industrial Revolution and the information economy, the skills people require are different.

 

And we’re struggling to move quickly enough to equip people with those skills.

Yes, as a developed nation, we’ve moved at pace to adapt. But we’ve still not been able to keep up with the pace of change … We haven’t shifted quickly enough into the Fourth Industrial Revolution — a revolution defined by more skills-based, more right-brain-based creative work.

Years ago, when a technology with the level of impact of AI came along, you could build a workforce over a few years. Now, technologies emerge so quickly that it’s becoming difficult to educate people quickly enough. This isn’t getting any easier; it’s getting more complex.

 

Increasing the ability of a broad swathe of the workforce to contribute to development will help improve corporate agility, innovation, and productivity.

I think it is right to say that if the software is easier to use, you can broaden the participation of people who can make changes to it. If it’s more configurable, with more drag-and-drop-type interfaces, then more people from across your workforce can start to contribute to development.

If you can offload some of those more basic issues to these “citizen developers,” then the technical staff can work on higher-value things … We’re giving more people more capacity to have more impact as individuals across their divisions and departments.

 

Jonathan Reichental is one of the experts we’ve been interviewing on the IT skills gap, low-code development, and citizen developers in the run-up to our TrailheaDX event, taking place on March 28–29 in San Francisco.

For more on these topics, check out these articles on the power of low code and the next frontier of IT innovation; an interview with Anna Rodriguez of Slalom on how citizen development can shrink the skills gap; Damian O’Farrill of Autodesk on How Naiveté Fuels Innovation; and our conversation with David Riggan and Sudheer Sura of BMC on why citizen development helps IT departments do more than simply “keep the lights on.”