API Development

The Mobile Ecosystem: Becoming a Mobile First Enterprise

As markets go, I think it’s fair to say that the mobile ecosystem is still an emerging and relatively new one – (it’s hard to believe, but the Apple App Store opened it’s ‘doors’ a mere 4 years ago in 2008, and the first iPad came in 2009). And with any rapidly developing market, it’s subject to an enormous amount of change in a very short period of time. Just look at the rate of innovation, not solely with the all-pervasive mobile devices, but also with the development tools, development processes and delivery models. Even sub-markets are now starting to emerge as the market grows and fragments (think MADP, MEAP, MBaaS, etc…).
So it’s no wonder enterprises are naturally nauseous as they attempt to keep up with it all. As these folks try to roll out mobile apps for their customers, prospects, partners and employees, they’re squeezed by opposing forces; Naturally, time to market is the driver for getting the apps out sooner rather than later. But the ongoing evolution of the above-mentioned technologies also provides a compelling business benefit to adopt them too. Clearly it’s rarely a binary decision, and what typically happens is that a happy medium is found – the apps are ultimately rolled out while the development teams continue to adopt the new stuff either in-flight, or for the next app.
Either way, these enterprises are now finding themselves in a chaotic situation – a hodge-podge of different tools and methodologies, separated by islands of information, and a chronic lack of visibility within and between the application teams. Some customers have expressed that it’s a wonder an app ever makes it out of the factory at all. Just last week one of our customers told us that they have no easy way to communicate to management on the status of individual mobile projects. So, given all this complexity and confusion, how do organizations find a path to transform themselves into a “mobile-first” organization?
I would argue that in many evolving markets, there are discrete stations that materialize along the way that serve as key areas of focus or competency. Yes, I know that hindsight is 20-20, but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to declaring victory when it comes to the endgame of the mobile app development space.
In working with many enterprises that are steadfastly on the path to building and deploying their mobile apps, we see some common challenges across all levels of mobile maturity. Here are the more common questions they are struggling to answer across these four “stations” of:

  • Mobile Client Development
    • “How do we deliver an innovative mobile user experience across the different devices that our customers and employees are using?”
    • “How do we find qualified developers to resource these mobile initiatives?”
  • Mobile Services Development
    • “Is our current web architecture suited for mobile? Mobile apps need to consume data from multiple sources, but many of these were designed for desktop web apps, not mobile apps.”
  • Mobile Ecosystem
    • “Now that we have multiple mobile apps, we must evaluate and manage multiple vendors to address the various needs across the mobile app lifecycle. Will the vendors we work with be able to keep up with the rapidly evolving mobile landscape? We don’t want to be limited by our vendors’ abilities to prioritize and deliver updates in pace with our requirements.”
  • Mobile Lifecycle Management
    • “There are multiple, disjointed pockets of mobile development occurring throughout our organization, resulting in inconsistency, silos of information and limited reusability.”

So, my suggestion is this: If you’ve recently embarked on a mobile app strategy, whether as part of a single Line of Business, or a broader enterprise-wide initiative, take a close look at the challenges of others. There may very well be a series of steps you can take to sidestep these issues to help accelerate the success of your mobile app strategy.
If you’re interested in learning more about the challenges enterprises are facing as a result of these trends, and how you can take a more structured approach to becoming a “mobile-first” organization, check out this free whitepaper entitled “How to Evaluate a Next Generation Mobile Platform”. 

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