Mobile apps need a new approach

The business opportunities for mobile apps lie in a cross platform approach, says Magic Software MD, David Akka

Businesses’ growing need for anytime, anywhere information, coupled with the advanced capabilities of smartphones, means that the demand for mobile applications, designed specifically for enterprise use, is robust.

For channel players in the mobile ecosystem, be they ISVs or SIs, the time is right to harness this explosion.

Building or implementing mobile solutions offers a wealth of new business opportunities. However, with high demand, comes new challenges. In this rapidly changing market, ensuring you are equipped with the means to quickly create and deliver applications across a multi-platform, multi device environment, in the most efficient way, holds the key to real business success and maximising revenue opportunities.

Managing the shifting sands

In today’s business environment, organisations demand more from their mobile devices. Increasingly, we rely on smartphones for highly complex business processes; everything from inventory tracking and processing orders, to customer care. Forrester has predicted that by 2016, some 350m workers will use smartphones and business spending on mobile projects will have doubled.

For ISVs creating software or SIs implementing solutions, there is heightened pressure to bring mobile apps to market quickly that not only have rich functionality, but which can also be deployed across different operating systems. Whereas traditionally on desktops new operating systems were released every year, in the mobile space this can be yearly or even every six months.

Integrators and developers now also have the challenge of designing and running more business-focused applications with an ever-more sophisticated raft of functions. This can range from applications which were originally designed for PCs, and which must be migrated to a mobile environment, to delivering customised, hybrid offerings of SAP, Oracle or other business applications.

The rise of the tablet within the workplace also means that, increasingly, enterprises will need their applications to work across multiple device types. Organisations are recognising the unique advantage of the tablet in a variety of contexts and investing in rolling out tablets and enterprise applications across the workforce. Capitalising on this trend means that applications will have to be optimised for these devices.      

Future proof decisions 

The mobile world is creating new challenges but also opening up new opportunities and levelling the playing field between smaller ISVs and the larger, more established names. Launching and delivering new mobile apps means that smaller providers can reach new markets and compete with the big players in ways which have not been possible until now.

However, those within the mobile ecosystem must tackle the shifting fortunes of the big mobile players; there is still uncertainty over where the best commercial opportunities will come from. In the wider market, Android still dominates – with 69.7 percent of the OS market in Q4, whilst iOS declined slightly, however Gartner predicts that “2013 will be the year of the rise of the third ecosystem as the battle between the new BlackBerry10 and Windows Phone intensifies.”

Against this backdrop, can developers or ISVs take the risk of making decisions now, based on what may happen in the next few years?  Equally, can those tasked with enabling enterprise mobility for clients, afford to take a leap of faith and make decisions today when the market remains so uncertain?

Selecting the right development platform is fundamental to business success but it’s not necessary to make the kind of choices which limit or lock users in to one device or platform; there are ways of future-proofing decisions.

New approaches such as mobile application platforms which allow developers to create applications, independent of the underlying platform could take away this risk and have the added commercial benefit of reducing development time. From the same development effort, applications can be leveraged to any device across any operating system.

In this dynamic industry, time to market and speed of delivery are key considerations. In order to capitalise on the business opportunities and open up new revenue streams,  it’s important to be equipped with the flexibility to transition applications across platforms and devices without the need to ‘rip and replace’.

Approaches which simplify the code writing, deployment and integration process can give players a first mover advantage and help to deliver more business-focused mobile applications, in a reduced timeframe.

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