Enterprise mobility: How fast can development go?

Enterprise mobility: How fast can development go?

Summary: There's never been a better time to be a mobile developer, writes Forrester analyst Michael Facemire.


I discuss mobile enablement of enterprise apps every day with our clients. The common trend is that it needs to be done now and in the most cost-effective manner (shocking, I know!). The good news is that meeting these expectations is quickly becoming easier. Recently I published a blog post about Backend-as-a-Service. I've recently published my latest research on these BaaS platforms. During this research three things became very apparent:

  • BaaS enables mobile apps to be written in hours, not days.  Nearly all BaaS platforms that I investigated had a web-based step-by-step approach to setting up your mobile backend services and some even offered a pure command line interface. Depending on preference, either approach allows for the mobile app backend scaffold to be available in a matter of minutes. Add in some business logic for connecting to your line-of-business (LOB) applications (in your language of choice, no less) and you're ready to focus completely on the mobile interface of your app! At this point the biggest challenge is how to manage your development vs. production backend environments. Not surprisingly, some vendors (StackMob and FatFractal, for instance) already have a solution for managing this as well.
  • The mobile developer's toolbox is becoming incredibly diverse and more powerful. Don't need a full BaaS solution but still need to quickly mobile-enable a segment of enterprise functionality? There are a growing set of tools for that as well. Tiggzi is a mobile cloud-based IDE that provides unique drag-and-drop app creation functionality. Cloud Extend Mobile from Active Endpoints allows enterprises to easily customize mobile extensions to existing LOB apps including Salesforce. This is merely the tip of the rapidly growing mobile toolkit iceberg.
  • There's never been a better time to be a mobile developer!  Keeping the previous two points in mind, has there ever been a better time to be a mobile developer? The challenges are exciting, the tools are increasingly developer-friendly and, maybe most importantly, the benefits are incredible! We've recently created the Why Mobile App Developers are Smiling Infographicwhich highlights these points along with a podcast where Mike GualtieriJeffrey Hammond and I all discuss the reasons to keep smiling!

As you dive into your mobile development challenges I'd love to hear what tools you're using and how it has changed your day-to-day development work. Come across new tools or platforms? Hit me up on twitter or send me an email and let me know!

Michael Facemire is a senior analyst serving Application Development & Delivery Professionals. 

Topics: Mobility, Software Development

Phil LeClare

About Phil LeClare

Forrester Research analysts provides best practices and analysis of burning issues and trends impacting Information & Knowledge Management and Infrastructure & Operations professionals.

J.P. Gownder, James Staten, Dave Bartoletti, TJ Keitt and others contribute to this blog.

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  • BaaS

    I understand the need for applications needing to be delivered as quickly as possible, but I really bugs me when people say, develop an app in a couple hours. Yeah, sure it can be done, but you can't push an app like that into production without proper testing, which takes time.

    Depending on the complexity of the app, you need time to design the UI. You'd probably want to discuss the UX with as many end users as possible. Create some mock ups, get sign off. The development of the app itself will be pretty quick, but then it needs to go through some rigorous testing, user acceptance testing and only then can the app go into production.
    General C#
    • BaaS done properly...

      You are spot in General C# - it is easy to leave the wrong impression that a really cool app is "instant" and that is bad.

      However, BaaS done properly should mean that less time is dedicated to boiler plate, repetitive code and more time can be devoted to the coolness.

      IMHO - what is important is that the BaaS solution provide the right balance of reducing tedium and drudgery without sacrificing the power needed to make an app really amazing.
  • MYOA (make-your-own-app) is a reality.

    Historically speaking, I totally agree with you General C#. Creating an app is not a simple WYSIWYG exercise. However, I think MYOA is not that far away. We've got a technology at Capriza that allows non-techy folks to create single workflow apps that are secure and that enable productivity. I don't think we'll be the only ones to make it easier for folks to be productive on their phones.

    Honestly, I'm not trying to self-promote our company, I just see a slightly better outlook for the future. :-)
    Kelly Fee