Winning Strategies for Enterprise Mobile App Development
apps are being commissioned at a hectic pace across all industries, geographies
and business processes. Employees see mobile apps as an essential means of
resolving issues raised in phone calls, emails and other messages delivered by
smartphones and tablets usually while the employee is “off-site” and “off duty.”
IT departments need
to support the development of mobile apps either with new in-house development
capabilities or by outsourcing app development to third party developers.
In order to support
a mobile workforce, IT needs to make real-time information, including product,
financial, and customer data, available in new single-purpose business apps.
Because of the
plethora of devices used by employees, IT needs to develop mobile apps for
multiple platforms including iOS, Android, and others. And as the number of
business processes and volume of transactions increases, scalability of mobile
environments can become a key constraint if the IT department does not
carefully select enterprise-scale mobile app servers.
In addition to the
challenges related to mobile applications, there are the more familiar IT
development hurdles that need to be overcome, including budget constraints, the
pressure for quick delivery, and the need to adapt to fast-changing business
processes and user habits.
mobile apps for multiple devices requires specialized knowledge of the
different operating systems and technologies which can strain IT resources and
drive up development costs. Each app requires development of: the
client-specific user interface, the mobile business processes, and the server-side
interactions, including integration with back-end systems. In addition, where
middleware is used for client-server communication and session management, yet
another technology needs to be mastered.
In order to
simplify and streamline development, many companies and IT departments choose
to use multi-channel development platforms which enable users to
leverage a single development effort to deploy apps for multiple operating
systems and devices. This is because the difficult porting work is
built-in and done by the platform, also making it easy to evolve your apps as
each operating system is upgraded and enhanced. In addition, by offering
reusable components incorporating best mobile user experience practices for
common modules, applications can be implemented more quickly with lower
development and testing costs.
Better Back End Integrations
apps, to provide real business value, enterprise apps require
integration with the company’s back-end systems so that relevant
information can be viewed and updated in real time.
For example, if a
sales order is placed using a mobile device, a whole chain of processes is
launched, touching several of the company’s core applications. Using customer
information acquired from the CRM, the app must connect to the ERP system to
verify that the product is available. Then a request is sent to the CRM and
financial systems to verify that the customer’s credit is sufficient to cover
the purchase price. If the response is positive, then an invoice is generated
in the ERP system, and the inventory management software initiates a request
for product delivery. If all steps are successful, the sales representative
receives a notification confirming the transaction – i.e. “Everything
OK, order is ready the go, product will be delivered on Day X,” and can update
the customer while still on-site.
In order to
accomplish this level of integration, all of the necessary links with the
various back-end systems need to be developed so all of the required processes
can be launched. If accomplished by point-to-point coding, programmers require
deep knowledge of the different IT systems to ensure that information is passed
correctly between systems using the right fields, operations and data formats.
In addition, these types of complex point-to-point integrations are difficult
to document and maintain, making them expensive to maintain when modifications
are needed to business processes or when a vendor changes APIs or one or more
of the systems are upgraded.
Not all mobile
application platforms are prepared to handle large transaction volumes or Big
Data. New approaches to scalability based on In-Memory Data Grid technology are
available, however, and offer the best path forward for enterprise-grade
these challenges can be overcome with the use of an in-memory mobile enterprise
application development platform that includes a code-free integration
component with pre-built adapters to popular IT systems and drag and drop
functionality to orchestrate business processes. An integration
platform that separates the business rules logic from the data and
technical layers, makes it easy and cost-effective to maintain.
In short, companies
and IT departments wanting to keep pace with the fast growing demand for mobile
enterprise apps should take advantage of comprehensive mobile development
platforms to ease and streamline development and integration. Learn more about Magic xpa Application Platform.
Glenn Johnson is Senior Vice President of Magic
Software Enterprises Americas. He is is the author of the award-winning
blog Integrate My JDE and contributor to the Business Week Guide to
Multimedia Presentations (Osborne-McGraw Hill). He has presented at
Collaborate, Interop, COMMON, CIO Logistics Forum and dozens of other user
groups and conferences. His interviews on software industry issues have been
aired on the NBC Today Show, E! News, Discovery and more.