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Enterprise-Consumer Crossover

Consumers and enterprise mobile users have different needs, so you need different apps, and different approaches to build them. Right?

When developing enterprise apps to date, you took the approach of assuming that the user is not always connected, so you hold data locally to keep it secure. When developing apps for consumers, you take the opposite approach: assume they’re always connected, and hold data in the cloud.

A few weeks back, I was on the train, to the office, trying to catch up with a radio show I’d missed. Normally I would have subscribed to the podcast, or for shows without a podcast I use Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack to ‘PVR’ the radio show. But in this case it I had missed the original transmission, so decided to try the beeb’s own radio app – iPlayer Radio. The app enables you to both listen ‘live’ and stream any show from the previous seven days.

As I've mentioned  before , getting a decent signal in London can be a challenge. And so it was that day.

In fact for the minute before I took this picture on my phone, I was getting the dreaded 'O' symbol, along with a lot of dead air. It was a mild sort of torture.

uber iplayer radio


What I needed was an app that assumed I wasn't always connected, and cached the programme for me so that I wouldn’t be left in poor-connection purgatory.

I was using a consumer app that was built with the assumption I was always conntect, and so any outage stoppped it working.

In fact it generally goes much further than this, and generally the assumptions extend to

Consumer Apps Enterprise Apps

Always On connectivity. Minimal offline requirements

Always Available model, irrespective of connectivity, enabling offline functioning

Smartphone, tablet, and any device using mobile web, SMS, USSD, even IVR

Predominantly smartphone & tablets

Native app Often hybrid application using a container

100s of thousands to millions of users

1000s of users (within a single enterprise)

But this doesn't make sense. The type of app you’re building is what should determine the approach, not the type of user.

Sure it is fine to expect an exterprise user to have a smartphone in the UK, but elsewhere? A customer of ours is using mobile to enable retailers to verify that product spare parts and consumables are geninue. You can't expect a small retailer in, say in rural India, to have both a smartphone and a data plan. You need to enable that service with any device.

And likewise, in this case don't assume that as a consumer I'm always connected - especially in London these days.