e2conf, social business, mobile, Multi-Channel Approach

Devices are sometimes called channels, and, just as the TV universe of channels seems endless -- including both cable and online channels -- so the population of device channels is now exploding. Desktops, smartphones, tablets and kiosks are quickly getting lots of company, in the form of interactive glasses, i-watches, refrigerators with screens, cars that double as app platforms, smart clothing and who knows how many intelligent household and business appliances. It’s this burgeoning world of device channels that one of the sessions at the E2 conference, now taking place in Boston, chose to address. 

Titled The Future of Multi-Channel & The Reasons to Implement a Multi-Channel Approach, the session was hosted by Dipesh Mukerji, Senior Director of Product Strategy and Marketing at mobile app developer Kony, and Stephen Drake, Program VP for Mobility and Telecom at industry research firm IDC.

Mobile Tech: HTML5, JavaScript, CSS

Drake focused on mobile management considerations for a modern enterprise -- of devices, apps, security, content, identity and more. Drake made three key points that led to Mukerji’s focus on app development in the multiple device-channel world -- enterprise apps are “competing with consumer apps for great experiences,” it’s going to be a multi-platform environment for at least years to come, and HTML5 is the third most popular “platform” for developers, after Android and iOS.

HTML5, along with JavaScript and CSS, are the stars of this multi-platform world, as Mukerji pointed out. Apps developed with these standard technologies work on all mobile platforms, and, while “not every feature will work cross-platform,” many will, and you can “take these things into account” in planning apps for multiple devices. “User experience is not sacrificed,” he assured listeners, “because it’s possible to provide many of the native apps’ features.”

This is the multi-channel approach companies need to undertake, he argued, given the fecundity of device types, the high total cost of ownership for app development if one goes the native app route, and the need to support back-end integration between the apps and, say, SAP software.

Reusable Code, Integration

The biggest cost savings, he pointed out, will not come in the first few apps using a cross-platform strategy, but in the reusable code and repeatable integration from the fifth, sixth or subsequent releases. A multi-channel approach, Mukerji noted, also reduces complexity of development, increases efficiency of development, improves user satisfaction because of a consistency of experience and aids security.

If you think i-watches and app-laden cars are too consumerist to be of interest for enterprises, Mukerji -- and the recent history of BYOD -- disagree. “Consumer consumption will drive enterprise adoption of new channels,” he said.

While HTML5 is rapidly being adopted for its cross-platformness, and new mobile OSs like Firefox OS are touting their emphasis on HTML5, Mukerji did agree with one questioner that there are reasonable exceptions. Case in point: Facebook created native apps to support its half-billion mobile users, primarily because of the wee bit of performance enhancement. Every little bit of performance enhancement counts when you’re talking 500 million of anything.

Photo courtesy of Nik Merkulov (Shutterstock)