As the boardroom begins to get more infatuated with mobility, there still seems to be a natural fascination with native apps, even for enterprise mobility. Whereas a native app for your organization may seem very glamorous and cutting edge, there are 2 simple areas for your CXO to consider.
Bring Your Own Device
What is your organization’s mobile device policy? If you are trending like many others right now, you may have nearly 50% BYOD and that is growing at a rapid pace as seen in the survey below.
IDC information worker custom survey sponsored by Unisys
Additionally, employees who have an “official device” may also have a personal iPad or Android tablet tucked in their bag or at home.
So will you build an iPhone and iPad app, along with an Android app targeting Android 2.1 (or is it 2.2, or maybe 2.3)? Are Blackberrys big in your organization? If so, which versions will you target? How long are you going to support each version? What happens if the analysts are correct and Windows takes a 20% market share in smartphones by 2015 (see below)? How is the tablet market going to mature? Will low-cost entries like the Kindle Fire flood the market or will the iPad reign supreme?
IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker
Do you have development resources available that are familiar with Android Java, Blackberry Java and Cocoa? Are you willing to fund all of these teams and possibly bring in Windows Mobile developers if the demand arises? Keep in mind that mobile development is not a Ronco process (Set it and Forget it) and that these projects will need to be staffed constantly with strong central project management so that they stay consistent with each other. Remember, a new feature on one platform must be replicated for each platform.
Now that the CXO is questioning why he would ever want to build native apps for the enterprise, go through the same 2 considerations for a mobile web app:
Bring Your Own Device
Not an issue. Obviously there is a point where you may want to say “sorry, you’re not supported,” but in reality, most mobile web frameworks (see jQuery Mobile and Dojo Mobile Toolkit for example) support a plethora of modern smartphones, tablets and even modern browsers (don’t forget about those) with a progressive enhancement, standards-based approach. Throw in a touch of responsive design and you have a killer mobile web app that works across many platforms and form factors.
Most organizations don’t have available native apps developers on staff with time for enterprise mobility projects, but are more likely to have web application developers (.Net, PHP, Java). As the mobile web is stack-agnostic, regardless if you choose to do your app in PHP or .Net, it doesn’t matter. You can use who you have and apply standards-based approaches that your developers should already be comfortable with.
And now that you bring it up…
There are benefits to an “app-like” experience and Apple actually provides techniques to enhance the mobile web app experience. For instance, you can hide the toolbars, have desktop shortcut icons, and show start-up splash screens just like native iOS apps all via HTML META tags. All of a sudden, when combined with a mobile web framework, you have what appears to be a fully-functioning native app for your iOS users. Many of these same enhancements are supported on Android, too.
Is your CXO convinced yet?
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