Today, enterprises are devoting massive efforts towards application development, with a specific focus on mobile device capabilities. Without shadow of a doubt, smartphones are proving to be the preferred choice when connecting to the internet, not only for consumers, but now for enterprise workers as well. Mobility, in whatever form, is changing the way people work and collaborate.
Devices in general have become indispensable to business productivity. They enable employees in all sorts of industries to connect to practically any sort of business data, document, or person they need, anytime and from any location. This means that app development has undergone a shift of focus from simply web programming to web and mobile programming. In order to be truly mobile, both online and offline capabilities are now becoming essential.
But ‘mobility’ is not simply about mobile phones, nor is it only about employees outside your corporate network. It is about making any business application accessible from any device, anywhere, and in a relevant manner. For employee back-office applications, a traditional browser look-and-feel may suffice. But now that, employee front-office or field-facing applications are also moving from the desktop onto tablets and smartphones, responsive web design is the minimal requirement to support these multiple form factors.
Despite the apparent desire for mobility, enterprise app development is still most definitely in its infancy. Companies are struggling to deal with standards, strategies, architecture, and device priorities. On top of all of that, they also have to deal with a quickly expanding and shifting landscape of devices as well as user expectations. There is continued fragmentation of the market in terms of devices and operating systems. For enterprises, this can be one of the most difficult areas in which to make long-term decisions. Almost every organisation needs to have a mobile strategy of some sort, and this typically revolves around the question of building open web, hybrid, or native apps. But, there is no single right answer. It all depends on the app’s business requirements and business objectives.
Defining a strategy
A clear strategy is needed which will in turn form a critical part of a company’s overall digital transformation plan. In order to be most effective, this strategy must be integrated with other IT initiatives such as cloud computing, data processing and analytics strategies. As companies look to build new applications, the cloud, for example, can provide many mobile services such as a development and testing environment, cloud-based mobile application middleware, and development tools, as well as Analytics as a Service (AaaS) capabilities. Additionally, companies can look to cloud-resident SaaS (Software as a Service) applications to deliver applications that operate seamlessly on the latest devices.
The one thing that absolutely cannot be overlooked by any business when crafting a company’s mobility strategy is security and this holds true regardless of a business’ requirements or objectives. With the ever-growing culture of BYOD (bring your own device), employees need to be able to engage with sensitive business data on their personal devices to ensure work is done productively. Barely a day goes by without hearing about some sort of corporate network crisis in the news. Just take the recent data breach by Three UK which occurred via compromised employee logins. Businesses must be able to enable their employees to transmit data between multiple endpoints confidentially, without compromising security, compliance or usability.
This was something that was taken into deep consideration when we developed the OutSystems platform, a low-code development platform that enables organisations to build enterprise-grade apps really fast. As a result, we can provide built-in enterprise security and performance management. In fact, the platform ensures that a range of authentication types are supported, with app-barring by users, groups or roles. There are also comprehensive data protection features, code-related security support, and app security monitoring, such as unauthorised access attempts, URL length analysis, and HTTP user-agent string analysis.
So could your company benefit from truly embracing mobility in 2017? Well yes, of course! What company wouldn’t want to maximise employee performance and increase productivity, innovation and collaboration? Before long, we will get to the stage where developers will just be building apps; there will be no specific web or mobile apps - just apps. All apps will have to be accessible from whichever device type a user chooses in order to reach true mobility. In the same way that web has become the default for nearly every enterprise app, mobility-ready will soon become mandatory for any new enterprise application. The enterprise must embrace apps - your customers have, your employees have, but more importantly, your competitors certainly have!
Eduardo Cruz, VP UK & Ireland, OutSystems
Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock