Why mobile application layering beats point-specific mobile app development
Many organisations are experiencing strong demand from their workforce to provide mobile access to their critical enterprise systems on their BYOD devices. A recent study by Gartner has estimated that demand levels will grow five-fold this year and outstrip the capabilities of IT to deliver – not to mention the cost!
The problems with point-specific mobile apps
The default approach to this problem has been to look to the development of limited functionality, point-specific mobile apps in order to respond in some manner to these pressures for access. Only to find in many cases that user adoption drops significantly after initial trials. Resistance of users to change could be one of the principal reasons for this. Often the UI of the mobile app bears little relation to the experience they’re used to back in the office.
Users complain that having to learn and use completely different ways to carry out their routine tasks is counter-productive. Many other feel let down as the tasks they want to access are stuck in the development queue waiting for funds and time to be allocated to their needs.
Further causes of low or no user adoption of point specific mobile apps are the concerns about security – often not of the corporate data but of the user’s own personal data and apps which they have on their mobile device.
Mobile Device Management Platform
In an eSecurityPlanet article, award-winning technology journalist Paul Rubens states “Typically, organizations bring devices under some form of corporate control by investing in a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform that controls which devices can access specific applications on the network. An MDM solution can handle device provisioning and configuration, software distribution, encryption and password management, and remote wipe and lock. Essentially, employees can use their personal or corporate-provided devices for business purposes as long as they agree to allow their device to be managed by the MDM solution.”
In short, ‘users can use our apps as long as they hand over control of their device to the corporate body’ and, in essence, give up their freedom to decide which apps they want to use personally!
However the issue of security is not restricted to locking down the device as Rubens goes on to comment, “developers can inadvertently introduce security vulnerabilities when developing custom mobile apps for organizations – often because they are new to the platform, inexperienced with security issues, or unaware of the possible risks.”
Even assuming that these concerns were met, the sheer scale of demand for mobile access to systems and the quantity of mobile apps needed to fully replicate the capability of an organisation’s entire enterprise systems landscape is huge!
Industry analysts estimate that the average large organization will need in excess of 2,000 mobile apps with each app taking on average 18 months to implement at an average cost in excess of a quarter of a million US Dollars! The cost of truly transforming your business to become a mobile first, digitally transformed operation is so large that budgets will need to span a number of years in order to be manageable.
Finally, spare a thought for the user trying to navigate (and remember) their way through 2,000 mobile apps on their BYOD device in order to find the one they want now! The term “application bloat” is used to describe the seemingly inexorable increase in resources which each new version of a desktop application consumes. Maybe we need to coin the term “app bloat” to describe this deluge of point specific, vendor specific, job specific apps which we’ll all need to use in future!
Adopt a Mobile Application Layering Approach
This situation contrasts dramatically with that enjoyed by those organisations who have adopted a mobile application layering approach. They can deliver fully functional access to entire applications without the need to develop separate mobile apps to replicate all of the features which users need.
Mix of Technologies
As a result of the totally different approach to mobilization taken by these layering technologies, they can enable applications from multiple vendors and a mixture of technologies to be accessed by mobile users without having to navigate through a maze of different point specific apps each with a different interface and limited functionality.
Concerns about security are also immediately satisfied when your security chief understands that there is no corporate data stored on your device – ever – and so there is little need to implement an expensive MDM solution to meet a threat which doesn’t really exist.
Issues over data in transit are met through the use of encrypted pixel packets rather than open datasets so, even if your traffic between mobile devices and your data servers could be hacked, there is essentially “nothing to see here”!
When you factor in the fact that mobile application layering solutions can often deliver mobile capability within days rather than months and at a fraction of the cost of even one mobile app development project, it is no wonder that organisations are taking a keen interest in the benefits this approach can provide.
The final but significant factor is that a focus on how to bring the attributes of the device (touch, gestures, sound, location etc.) to the familiar UI of the underlying enterprise application means that users can be even more productive on their mobile devices than back in the office on their desktop.
Think how much easier it would make for you to be able to;
- just talk to your HR system to apply for leave,
- draw a custom gesture on your tablet and have your CRM system ‘automatically’ log your recent lead and set up a follow up appointment in a timescale based upon the gesture you drew or
- access a specially designed keyboard ‘popped up’ on your device to enable you to use the sequence of function and control keys you know will get you through your ERP screens rapidly to check on those inventory levels!
Taking all these into account, shouldn’t you be checking out Enterprise Applications Mobility Layer (EnAML) technology yourself?