Why Your Enterprise Needs a Mobile Application and Platform Strategy

Stephen Mulligan
On: 19 Feb 2016
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Back in 2004, my team and I did something remarkable although we didn’t realise it at the time. We created a business mobile app.

With it, our business customers were able to capture data in the field (quite literally: they were testing telephone poles with a Panasonic CF-P2) and transmit it back over the mobile network to a corporate database. I don’t think we fully realised at the time how much at the forefront of this nascent industry we really were. Bear in mind that 2004 was a full three years before the iPhone was even released; when Windows Pocket PC was still the main stay of mobile technology and the term “App” hadn’t even been coined.

Fast forward 11 years and just about everyone has a smartphone with dozens of apps. As an interesting aside, while the number of apps downloaded has increased significantly over the last few years, the number of apps used monthly has stayed relatively static. Clearly, your app has to deliver consistent value so as not to be forgotten.

Cue the rise of Enterprise Mobile Applications. A 2016 version of what our team built in 2004 can now offer as compelling an experience to business users as Uber or AirBnB does for consumers. The key to Enterprise Applications is to securely display and/or capture sensitive corporate data on a mobile device. This data could be anything from product catalogue information to support the sales force or a health and safety tracking tool for vital audits and checks. The Enterprise Mobile Application Platform allows the secure transfer of information to and from a mobile device to your various corporate systems.

Developing an app is one thing, developing a mobile application strategy is another thing. Having an application strategy is using mobile technology to dramatically transform how your business works and shifting your thinking to an agile, fast IT and mobile-first mindset. Research from RedHat found that 52% of organisations now have a fully implemented mobile app strategy compared with 7% in 2013.

Your mobile application strategy will have some core goals. They could be to engage customers, drive employee productivity, increase sales, etc. Your choice of a Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP) then becomes key to your success, as does the partner that you choose to help you build your apps.

Here are some key considerations for when you’re thinking about what MADP to develop on:

  • Secure, policy-based access control – who/what roles can access what functionality
  • Data convergence – retrieve data from many back-end systems into a single ‘pane of glass’
  • Complexity abstraction – simplify multi-system access and complex workflows
  • Cross platform – develop once and deploy to iOS, Android, Windows and web
  • Agility – develop and iterate in weeks or months, not years
  • Snap in pre-built/open source frameworks – accelerate development
  • Connectors and standard APIs – reduce time to integrate into corporate solutions (SAP, SharePoint, Salesforce, Active Directory, etc.)
  • On Premise or from the Cloud – manage the MADP yourself or take it “as a service” with an appropriate SLA and secure connectivity (e.g. VPN)
  • Scale – take it to as many users as you can

If you’re not already embracing a mobile application and platform strategy today, it’s probably worth considering sooner rather than later.