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What is needed to make Enterprise App Development more rewarding ?

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These days, it’s difficult to avoid interacting with a mobile app, be it at work or at home. Because of this, mobile budgets are increasing in many organizations. However, in others they have scaled back their total spending on developing mobile applications – even though the enthusiasm and demand for mobile Apps is there ! This is occurring because many organizations are still scratching their heads on how to find the Apps that matter (ie: have high User stickiness and have a fast ROI (preferably a few weeks or at the most several months).

Gartner surveyed IT and business leaders responsible for mobility across America, Europe and Asia-Pacific about their activities in building internal as well as customer facing mobile Apps. Roughly 42 % of organizations are looking to increase Mobile App Development spending by 31 % but the money only accounts for 10 % of the budget allocated to overall App development. Last year mobile apps made up 12 per cent of total App development investments. It’s a peculiar finding, given that a lot of the organizations I’ve interacted with have indicated they’re heavily focused on mobility. Adrian Leow, Gartner principal researcher, agreed that demand for mobile apps in the enterprise is growing but the issue is that organizations struggle to find value in investing in mobile App development. They also have a penchant for building Apps from scratch – rather than adopting off-the-shelf solutions to avoid integration issues. Unfortunately this is very costly and resource intensive, a very technical process, takes a long time to get an App with high appeal and will get traction in the market – with Internal users, or for Customer-facing Apps. Leow highlighted another issue with App development within enterprises is the wasted effort and various delays whereby “most organizations have been spending the last two years building front-end Client Apps, making connectors to go from front to back. Different teams work on different Apps and they end up with connectors that build on different technologies that aren’t reusable. This is causing duplication of effort and there’s no economies of scale.”

To remediate this problem, Leow said enterprises need to look at Mobile App Development in layers – the front-end, App integration layer, and the back-end. The front, end-user facing end, needs to be decoupled from the backend, separated by an agile API layer that will optimize mobile integration and simplify the process of connecting mobile Apps to a variety of data sources. It’s at the middle layer that organizations can adopt technology from other vendors; essentially it’s the middleware layer. This opens up opportunities to make the front-end more accessible to end-users that may not have the ability to code but still want to build their own apps.

From an IT perspective, this layered approach also facilitates experimentation with using different technology stacks, which is something Leow encouraged. Mobility is a fast-moving industry and being able to hedge your bets on a range of technology stacks means you can find out quickly which one fits your company’s current mobile App needs. “They’re all talking about this because they’re all using mobile App development platform vendors and evaluating them in the background. That’s how they’re scaling up,” he said. “They’re into mixing and matching; they would have one vendor in the backend but mix and match different front-end tools and are experimenting with open source stacks before committing to proprietary platforms and paying the fees associated with that.” While this all sounds like a lot of effort, Leow noted that it’s less about time and money and more about taking a different approach when it comes to mobile Apps. “Organizations can’t just think mobile is the same as IT that has existed since mainframe computing,” he said. “Mobile competency and requirements are completely different.”

To get past these issues, enterprises are exploring options with newer mobile platforms to make Apps fast and/or contract App development with a supplier who can deliver Apps quickly (ie: within a few weeks or a month). This is important to address the need for quick gratification that is expected in mobile, provide a fast ROI, to enable the organization to be better at business innovation, as well to reduce the time and cost to make and deploy new Mobile Services. These are significant advantages – to benefit from the ” convenience of Mobile ” and the ” power of Apps “.

June 20, 2016 …. from mobile industry commentary

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