Ready. Set. Go Mobile! Low Code Platforms Assist Enterprises in Developing Better Mobile Apps, Faster

By Richard Rabins, CEO and Founder, Alpha Software Corporation

Richard Rabins, CEO and Founder, Alpha Software Corporation

The Promise of Enterprise Mobility

You see it every day: employees use an average of three different devices in their daily routine and require constant on-demand data accessibility and freedom from their desktops. Research shows that “giving mobile workers access to a full suite of enterprise communications is one of the best ways to keep them productive regardless of where they’re working, when, or on what device.”

As the keepers of enterprise technology, CIOs are adept at identifying the best tech to increase worker productivity, produce new revenue streams and drive more business through the enterprise. Increasingly, all these business processes and the technology needed to power themis going mobile.

As we’ve integrated mobility into every aspect of our personal lives, employees have come to expect it at work. Thus, CIOs must find ways to deliver a fully mobilized work force.

Enterprises see the opportunity: IDC predicts that IT organizations will dedicate at least 25 percent of their software budget to mobile application development, deployment and management by 2017, and the number of enterprise applications optimized for mobility will quadruple by the end of 2016.

Mobile app delivery can be complicated and turn ugly for CIOs if the right solutions are missing from the tech equation. True enterprise mobility means having a robust portfolio of enterprise-grade, mobile optimized tools available to everyone. There’s no cutting corners, turning desktop applications into web apps, users now demand “app store” quality experience in their B2B, enterprise apps. Strong user experiences are a must, including the ability to work offline effectively and to harness the true advantages of mobile devices, like GPS, photos, video, audio, and bar scanners.

At the same time, your mobile apps must meet enterprise criteria, including back-end enterprise integration, authentication and security and the opportunity to create mobile optimized forms.

To succeed in their quest for true mobile apps, CIOs need a development process that allows rapid output, consistent quality and enables app upgrades as needed.

Mobile apps have higher turnover than traditional enterprise apps and mobile app users expect regular updates. Without them, employees will not adopt these apps or will quickly look elsewhere–resulting in an app project fail. The most successful app projects take these success factors into account as they develop and deploy new apps.

At Alpha Software, we are in touch with thousands of corporations every month. We’re constantly analyze patterns and best practices by which companies get mobilized, fast. For example, our friends at Glacier Water needed a mobile-savvy application that could standardize and speed the process of qualifying, signing up, and bringing on new customers; and streamline the process of placing their water and ice machines in new locations. It had to be compatible across various mobile platforms, allow users to work in areas without broadband or Wi-Fi networks and be cost-efficient. Using an RMAD platform, Glacier Water was able to design, develop, debug and deploy a new custom workflow application in a mere six months—about five to ten times faster than with other platforms.

Glacier Water’s enterprise-class app meets all front-end to back-end requirements, including support for tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops and SQL Server. It also works offline, which in turn will save the company more than $300,000 a year in connection charges.

While there are many solutions that CIOs should consider when building out their mobility plans in the coming year, RMAD technology is by far the best option. From cost-effectiveness to overall capabilities, developers will not be disappointed in the time and money saved to create robust apps that meet all of their enterprise needs.

So, with expectations high for enterprise mobility, why are we seeing some organizations falling behind? In many cases, it’s a matter of resources.

Seek Mobile App Development Resources Where You Don’t Expect Them

As the demand for apps surpasses developers on staff, you may find yourself strapped for talent to deliver mobile applications. CIOs are faced with finding the right partners, either in-house or via third parties, who can rapidly produce mobile apps to meet high demand while still providing a consumer-like experience in an enterprise-safe environment.

Your ranks of developers must be agile, able to design and improve quickly for ease of use. And it has become apparent that they must create apps to support multiple types of devices and operating systems with a “write once” model. Couple this with the demands of enterprise security and it’s no wonder many CIOs are wide-eyed when it comes to deploying enterprise mobility.

To address this, many executives - deemed “early adopters” - are looking to new, flexible mobile platforms to drive development by a wider range of developers, beyond organization walls.

A New Way to Address the Problem: Look WITHIN Your Four Walls for the Solution

IDC predicts that 35 percent of large enterprise will leverage mobile application development platforms to create and deploy mobile apps. Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD),or low-code development, tools allow both skilled and amateur developers to efficiently build robust mobile apps that support many sets of business processes. These low-code tools allow a wider range of employees to help drive enterprise mobility, while ensuring security, integration and key features. Using a low-code platform also ensures mobile apps can be quickly updated, providing that consumer-like experience to your expectant enterprise audience.

Support through Infrastructure

Therefore, in addition to identifying the tenants of a successful, widely-adopted mobile app, careful groundwork must be laid to prepare developers to deliver these types of mobile apps in tighter timeframes and with greater efficiencies. Starting with a sound infrastructure can prevent your organization from becoming a laggard.

My suggestion is to start your roadmap with the following:

1. Select a “low code” rapid mobile development and deployment platform (RMAD) that is designed to deal effectively with the challenges of taking enterprise mobile.
2. Know your constituent’s key requirements for mobile app success and work them into your charter.
3. Empower IT to perform within their traditional strengths, including:
a. Power to access corporate data in the most direct way
b. Rights to review app security.

Establish the Critical Requirements

Knowing your constituent’s key requirements is vital. Alpha Software recently commissioned a survey of enterprise application developers to identify what they, and business end-users of mobile applications, deem critical requirements for success.

Top requirements included: easy integration with backend database; offline capabilities and multi-channel support – addressing the “write it once” demand. Of the enterprise developers surveyed:

• 63 percent plan to develop up to five mobile apps in 2016
• Over 77 percent cite easy backend data integration, offline support, cross platform functionality, and an easy-to-use in-app keyboard as 'must have' features
• Over 80 percent of end-users consistently identify ease-of-data capture, security, and the increased productivity of mobile field workers as essential to the success of their mobile apps.

How are you addressing these requirements and preparing your enterprise organization for successful mobility?

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