With so many smartphone options on the market, companies are struggling to build portfolios of enterprise applications that can keep pace with evolving user preferences. Businesses cannot ignore the din of users clamoring for enterprise mobile apps, but accomplishing this goal can present significant challenges. Meeting these demands is possible, as long as you find the right mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) and avoid five common pitfalls.
- Don’t fall prey to false code generation promises. Code generators offer you the chance to work for awhile in a higher level integrated development environment (IDE) and then press a button to generate a code file. Since changes are usually needed, you’ll have to tweak the code in the generated file in a native programming language for the mobile device. But once that “tweaking” begins, you lose the advantages of the higher level IDE. This means your future will be dominated by line-by-line text editing.
- Remember that integration component software development kits (SDK) are for programmers. A library of available integration components in an SDK might seem like a reasonable solution for the problem of integrating to back-end systems. It’s not. That’s because an SDK is intended for programmers, not the business users of your apps.
- Don’t succumb to unified looks and feels. You might be tempted to work with a vendor who offers quick deployment of an app via the Web or some native approach that looks exactly alike on BlackBerry, Android, Windows and iPhones. If you buy that pitch, though, prepare for user revolt. BlackBerry users are comfortable with their keypads and trackballs. iPhone users are in a relationship with their touch screen interfaces. Android users bought into the promise of special capabilities. If you give all of those audiences the same interface, adoption levels will be poor.
- Resist pressure to abandon your legacy apps. The problem with this rip and replace approach to IT modernization is that you sacrifice years of built-up value and proven environments for reliability and security. It is simply not true that IBM i, for example, is unsuitable as a server environment for mobile apps.
- Beware of long distance outsourcing. Overseas development outsourcers want to keep you as dependent as possible for as long as possible. If you engage in outsourcing, insist on collaboration and training so your staff has the knowledge to take over the project.
President & CEO, Magic Software Enterprises inc.