Mobility Apps: What’s Next?

Ramesh Loganathan, VP Products at Progress

If Andy Warhol’s famous remarks about everyone having their ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ are to be believed, then how are we to view some of the more recent trends in mobile technology? The time spent in the spotlight by once-innovative concepts such as BYOD, remote working and citizen developers is beginning to ebb away as the hype is replaced by newer, more pragmatic and meaningful technologies. Today all these ideas that, although considered new and exciting at the time, are now fully entrenched in the workplace, and considered part and practice of every day working life.

What’s is clear is that the adoption of mobility in enterprise applications is gradually becoming part of the mainstream. One of the main reasons for this is the simplified access to enterprise business services and data through the cloud, which, in turn, is resulting in some innovative new application models. It’s a trend that is starting to emerge and will gain full steam later this year and the following five themes hint towards what we can expect to see.

1.     Increased ‘on the go’ productivity with larger data sets

Although the ability to be productive and work ‘on the go’ is hardly new, it’s worth bearing in mind that, to date, this has only seen widespread adoption using relatively small data sets. Now, Increasingly, we’ll see more widespread adoption of applications that rely on larger, more complex data sets, giving users the opportunity to work with relavant business solutions without any constraints on functionality or data accessible from mobiles..

2.     Mobile apps serving a user’s purpose, accessing multiple back-end solutions

It’s easy to think of data as a single entity, stored in one single location, which can be easily accessed. The truth, however, is very different, and quite often, employees find themselves having to switch between multiple data sets, stored in a variety of locations, and accessed via a diverse range of applications. If mobile productivity is to become truly effective for those that are reliant on these divergent data streams, it must surely become necessary to access many of these sources when building a mobile application. IN enterprise solutions use cases, the access maybe a bit involved needing the mobile apps having its own backend that mediates and aggregates access to these multiple enterprise backed solutions. By integrating multiple back-ends, and providing the ability to use them all through one single point of entry on a mobile device, businesses will be able to provide mobile productivity at a level never previously allowed.

3.     Mobile first user-centric applications

With most enterprise business processing and departmental IT solutions in place in all enterprises, the next set of solutions being considered by enterprises are primarily around user productivity. Around user centered applications that enable user’s processing. Which often needs access to multiple enterprise solutions. What’s new though is that now a new class of solutions are coming up leveraging all aspects mobile.

In days gone by, mobile-specific applications were developed almost as an afterthought. Typically, they were either created from a quick port of an existing desktop or web-based application, or developed afterwards with long, resource-intensive lead times. Today’s developers can no longer afford to think in this way. Now much emphasis is being placed on achieving the holy grail of productivity, that developers will increasingly develop for mobile platforms first before web and other platforms. Leverage the continuous access to these apps that users will have. Leverage access to location and other user’s context in enabling a better experience and utility for the users. Connect the user to any and all needed back end services and data to enable some processing that users want to achieve. Anywhere. Any time. From their mobile.

4.     More focus on the business than the consumer

One of the main causes of the BYOD revolution was that it allowed everyday people to access information they needed to access in their place of work in ways they would ordinarily access information in their private lives. The consumerisation of IT trend was based almost entirely on the idea of user experience, and there was little doubt that consumers were king in this scenario. Moving forward, we’ll see a reversal of this, with more and more organisations realising that it’s possible to target the deep pockets of businesses with the sort of user experience once typically associated with consumers. What’s clear is that as developers increasingly place business expectation over and above individual user preferences, this increasing consumerisation of applications will come hand-in-hand with a business end-user focus.

5.     Modifying applications ‘on the go’

Perhaps the biggest upshot of these new mobility trends is that we’ll see the act of developing applications moving away from being the sole preserve of dedicated coding experts. The users that access applications will themselves gain the ability to modify them. This will enable a class of solutions that will allow each end-user to easily put together an app that automates some business processing of their own, all accessed from their mobile. This will allow access to any backend business function or data that the user needs to perform operations. The resulting ability to use mobile devices as an application development tool, and not just as means to an end for an end-user could radically alter the way we think of mobile devices. There’s no doubt that this will give way to a new breed of ‘on the go citizen developer’ as non-tech end-users will build and modify their own apps.

These five suggestions may not be the be-all and end-all of developments in mobile over the coming months and years. However, as more and more businesses adopt mobile first strategies and move mobile applications further away from the domain of the consumer and more into the realm of businesses, there seems little doubt that we’ll see a fundamental shift in the way mobility is perceived and used. Will it be enough for these trends to have their own ‘fifteen minutes of fame’? Only time will tell!

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