Mobile Apps go deeper than the front-end UI. Less than 30% of the value and efforts of enterprise mobility solutions are visible through mobile UI, rest lies under the surface like an iceberg. These under the surface things, like backend services and integrations, often create challenges for the enterprises and app developers in terms of development time and cost, time-to-market, management, and maintenance.
Enterprises struggle with their mobility initiatives because their enterprise infrastructure was built for web, not mobile. Extending current enterprise infrastructure to mobile often involves ripping-and-replacing what enterprises have optimized for years. Mobility introduces many new considerations, like data transformation and management, user management, security, network management, mobile identity, location services, offline storage, data sync, and so on.
Managing these new aspects to achieve desired results from enterprise mobility initiatives is often difficult without right expertise and tools/platforms. Consumerization of IT and ever increasing fragmentation of mobile platforms and devices are only increasing these challenges. There are obviously known solutions, following are the prominent ones and challenges associated with them.
- Point solutions/mobile apps, where the mobile app is directly connected to enterprise systems via web-services, are good as long as there are very few apps. This approach can quickly become a problem from management perspective as the number of apps and supported platforms grow, causing more pain than the gain in the long term. An enterprise looking to transform their business processes and offerings using mobile certainly needs to do much more that developing point solutions.
- Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions can work well for some enterprises and solve above problems associated with point solutions. However, MEAP/EMM platforms are often complex, costly, focused on specific enterprise needs, and usually lock developers in their ecosystem and limit their ability to use best of the breed solutions for specific areas. Many app developers struggle with developing and maintaining backend infrastructure due to lack of skills in those areas, while others end up compromising on user experience of the apps.
- Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) enables the convergence of all the commonly used backend services to sit on top of the cloud-based infrastructure like Amazon and Rackspace. It encourages decoupling of mobile UI and backend by using open standards-based services and tools. Cloud enables better scalability and availability making developer’s life easier. It offers freedom and flexibility to developers to use any tool to build apps and let them focus on the user experience. While MBaaS solves many of the problems with other approaches, the flexibility offered throws open dozens of technology options to choose from.
So how enterprises should really approach their mobility initiatives? One thing is clear that mobilizing an enterprise needs multitude of new skills, and no single vendor offers best products for different aspects of mobile ecosystem under one umbrella. Enterprises can build their own Mobile Centre of Excellence (CoE) and bring in all the required expertise, however doing so may not be a viable option for most enterprises to start with. Engaging one or multiple external agencies with right expertise and experience to bridge specific gaps is another option and can work better for many.
In either case, putting together a clear and comprehensive mobility strategy is the right first step towards success. The strategy should consider relevant business needs and constraints, evaluate available solution options, articulate impact on existing infrastructure, assess organizational readiness, identify clear business benefits of implementing recommended mobile solution, and accordingly recommend an approach that works best in that context.
Enterprise Mobility experts at Adeptus can help develop such strategies for creating a mobile enterprise that capitalizes on new business models, innovates products and services and/or unlocks workforce productivity. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help with your enterprise mobility initiatives.