There has been much hype surrounding the concept of “consumerization” of the enterprise. For those that aren’t clued-in, consumerization refers to the growing trend of new information technologies first emerging in the consumer market and then moving into the enterprises and government institutions. So, how can enterprises learn from and take advantage of this trend in terms of Enterprise Mobility and app development?
With the advancements in mobile technologies and ever-growing app markets, enterprises are struggling to catch up with consumer applications. Many enterprises are still focused on the development and deployment of thick applications, published to a limited selection of mobile devices. It is not uncommon in the industry to take 9-12 months to develop a mobile application and a further 3-6 months every time it needs to be updated or enhanced. Compare this to consumer apps which are launched quickly and updated almost on a weekly basis. Such slow application roll-out speeds make it difficult for enterprises to compete with consumer apps in functionality and usability.
Taking it one step further, a significant portion of non-game-related apps downloaded from app stores provide the same type of connectivity and integration to the back-end ERP, CRM, WMS or other enterprise systems. Apps for shopping online, making travel reservations, checking movies, events, online banking and others, all connect to back-end enterprise systems and perform real-time financial transactions.
So what is the trick here? And how can organisations leverage the ever-growing consumerization of the enterprise? What strategies should enterprises employ?
- Agile software development lifecycles and continuous involvement of end users during the design and development process;
- Single purpose, service-enabled light-weight mobile apps; and
- Adoption and continuous use of productivity mobile platforms and RAD environments.
Furthermore, cloud-based solutions and OTA (Over-the-air) provisioning of applications on various devices enables fast roll-out and update of mobile apps, whether the apps are targeted at the organisation’s workforce or its customer base.
Last, but not the least, is the question of cost. Developing device-specific applications might be attractive now, but may be far more costly over time in this rapidly evolving market due to:
- New and more powerful devices released at an increased rate, rendering the chosen hardware platform obsolete in a matter of months rather than years, making repair/ replacement costs prohibitive;
- Software and OS updates stay up to speed with the hardware releases often resulting in questionable or unavailable backwards compatibility, forcing organisations either to stay with older technologies or incur additional costs of mobile app modernisation and/or rewrites; and
- Increasing popularity of BYOD makes it difficult for the organisations to use employee owned devices. Alternatively when BYOD is adopted there are some financial and technical questions – such as which devices to support and how much will that cost?
In tackling consumerization, start looking at the consumer market for inspiration and innovative ways to mobilize the enterprise, to find the fine balance between Enterprise Mobility and Consumer Mobility. The key takeaways from this blog are for organizations to build and deliver thin, easily deployed mobile apps, tap into the enterprises’ back-end systems and provide on-the-go functionality to users in your enterprise.
Andrei Migatchev is the Chief Technical Officer at Magic Software SA and has been active in the software industry since 1998