Enterprise mobility: How fast can development go?

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.