Firms must build agnostic apps

Companies embarking on app development and implementation should consider making sure the software is supported across platforms, but not at the expense of depleting IT budgets and other resources.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--With the rise of consumerization and bring-your-own-device in the enterprise space, companies will increasingly need to develop apps which are platform-agnostic and able to run seamlessly across one's spectrum of computing devices, otherwise known as "horizontalization".
That said, such projects must be counter-balanced by the available resources at hand in each organization, and how much money it is willing to invest in the project, according to Gartner analysts.
In a briefing here Wednesday, Andrew Chetham, managing vice president at Gartner, pointed out that one key trend this year in the consumer tech space will be mega vendors battling for dominance by introducing services and applications that are available across all platforms. For example, Amazon has introduced its Kindle app for most tablet devices, while Google Maps is available on almost all smartphone operating systems, Chetham noted.

How extensive access to apps needs to be should be determined by business needs, not IT ones.

He identified Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple as the five "most important personal tech vendors for consumers". "They define mindshare, innovation and will both compete and cooperate simultaneously," he added.  
Asked about the implication of app horizontalization for businesses, principal research analyst at Gartner, Shalini Verma, said it would affect their plans for deployment and implementation of applications from these mega vendors.
Elaborating, Verma told ZDNet that companies in the future will increasingly need to consider supporting any business software across various device platforms. This, though, needs to be weighed against available investment dollars and internal IT resources required to implement such a project.

To highlight how vast the number of computing devices is currently, she noted U.K. broadcaster BBC had made its iPlayer content streaming app available on 650 devices.
She said going "horizontal" across platforms will not replace the vertical, end-to-end access approach favored by companies such as Apple, but it is now a "valid" business approach as it makes sense in light of the existing computing landscape.

User experience cannot be compromised

Beside access and the need to be platform agnostic, user experience also plays an integral role in cultivating acceptance and customer loyalty, said Chetham. He noted how apps such as Dropbox are designed to be simple for people to use, and the relatively seamless synching experience across multiple platforms mean many consumers are now embracing such services.
Conversely, a bad experience in areas such as synching user content might put off some people, but the Gartner analyst believes it will not leave a permanent bad taste in the person's mouth.
Chetham said: "It's not like they are going to throw away their devices if one app fails to perform properly."

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