How to manage mobile demand?

Can corporates keep up with demand for mobile applications?

Tags: Software development
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How to manage mobile demand? (ITP Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  March 1, 2015

The march to mobility seems to be stepping up the pace in the region, as more and more organisations look to mobile platforms to deliver new services and new channels to market.

While speed of adoption of mobile in the region is most pronounced in Dubai government’s smart initiative, where government departments are launching a huge amount of apps ahead of the May deadline, there are few sectors that are untouched by the rise of apps.

There are a growing number of e-commerce startups that are primarily mobile based, and many consumer-focused organisations are looking to mobile channels of communication. At the same time, many enterprises are realising the value of a mobile workforce — the demand for mobile is creeping into almost all sectors. Demand from customers — or internal stakeholders — whether realistic or not - is a major factor, but if your competitors are opening up mobile channels, can you afford not to? Then there is the questions of convenience and empowerment — mobile workforces are becoming a reality. The smartphone or tablet also opens up a far wider channel to market than the desktop will ever be, as the penetration of mobiles far outstrips any other type of connected devices.

All of which leaves organisations facing a host of questions over how to proceed with mobile development. The choice between native and hybrid development, and which platforms, will probably depend on the number of apps and the number of users the organisation expects to have. Even so, many are still shifting strategy between development models as they gain experience. A decision to go just with iOS and Android today, could backfire tomorrow if Microsoft finally manages to bridge desktop and mobile with Windows 10.

Then there is the questions of where to get the skills required for mobile development. Like any hot IT skill, mobile talent is in short supply. A recent survey by Opinion Matters/ Outsystems showed that 85% of organisations have a backlog of 1-20 applications, mainly due to skills. An inhouse team could be more expensive and slower to get running than outsourcing, but then with the speed of updates required by the app model, can any outsource agreement keep control of third party developer costs while delivering on shifting requirements and open-ended development?

The speed of development is another factor in mobile. Most organisations take an approach of almost constant improvement. The UAE Roads & Transport Authority reckons to update its apps — and it has several — at least once a month, the sort of cycle that traditional development would balk at. Of course, each update requires testing, and how do you manage to test monthly updates across two, three or four different platforms and hundreds of different devices?

Then there is the question of how to account for user feedback to improve the apps. Even for the most popular consumer apps, comments and reviews left on app stores are often polarised between very positive and not-so-good.

Many organisations are rightly concerned about app security too. We haven’t seen a watershed mobile security breach yet, but any lessons learned from security suggest that sooner or later, it will happen. On top of that, and a rarely raised point, is how to justify the spending on mobile development, particularly if it involves creating a whole new team for a project. Quantifying the returns from an app might be difficult to do, but the bean counters will have to be appeased at some point.

The best approach to mobile would seem to be to identify what you can do and where the quick wins lie and set the road map accordingly — but be ready for change.

1369 days ago

OutSystems is proud to be part of the working force in the UAE, to provide IT departments in the UAE and Middle East with an enterprise Rapid Application Delivery (RAD) platform that makes it easy to develop apps once and deliver seamlessly across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and web - fully integrated with existing systems. Apps that listen to user feedback and are effortless to change.

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