Talk to any CIO today and one of the most pressing challenges they face is building mobile apps that enterprises want to use as fast as they need them. Most enterprises today have huge mobile app backlogs with no sign of it getting any better.
According to Gartner, the demand for enterprise mobile apps will be a $40 billion market by next year. And, according to its latest enterprise application trend findings, by the time 2017 comes to an end, market demand for mobile app dev services will grow five times faster, or more, than internal IT organizations’ ability to meet that demand. Gartner forecasts mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019.
“Organizations increasingly find it difficult to be proactive against competitive pressures, which is resulting in their mobile apps becoming tactical, rather than strategic,” said Gartner analyst Adrian Leow. “We’re seeing demand for mobile apps outstrip available development capacity, making quick creation of apps even more challenging. Mobile strategists must use tools and techniques that match the increase in mobile app needs within their organizations,” Leow said.
Interestingly, according to Gartner, employees today use about three different devices daily. Gartner expects that to hit five or six soon. With many firms embracing BYOD, mobile development teams will be pressured to build more apps under more pressure for more form factors than ever before. And they are already pressured. Consider this: A 2014 Gartner survey on mobile app development found that the majority of organizations have developed and released fewer than 10 apps, with a significant number of respondents not having released any mobile apps.
In its statement, Gartner detailed four practices it feels are necessary to meet mobile enterprise mobile app demand. They’re a good start, but not enough. I share Gartner’s practices in the next paragraph. The practices I also think are necessary to meet enterprise mobile app demand will be included in a follow-up post next week:
1) Prioritize app development
Mobile development teams are overstretched and have difficulty effectively delivering the growing number of mobile apps in their queues. The result is apps being built on a first-come, first-served basis, with the line of business making the most noise having its needs met first. This lack of value-driven prioritization leads to inefficient use of IT resources and a degradation in the quality of apps delivered. According to Gartner analysts, mobile development teams need to formulate a process of mobile app prioritization that involves understanding the needs of business stakeholders. This will be a key factor in defining common criteria for evaluating mobile app projects.
2) Adopt a bimodal IT approach
Integration is often the largest part of the effort of delivering an enterprise mobile app, with many app development teams underestimating the time and resources required for integration during the planning stage of the traditional waterfall methodology they are following. Gartner believes organizations need to replace this traditional IT development approach with a bimodal strategic approach that supports innovation and agility to deliver apps more efficiently and quickly. Bimodal approaches consist of two models: Mode 1 drives the creation of stable infrastructure and APIs to allow apps to retrieve and deliver data to back-end systems without impacting those enterprise applications, while Mode 2 uses high-productivity, agile approaches to quickly deliver front-end app features required by the business.
3) Use rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools
Using development tools that can produce apps more rapidly is crucial for enterprises to help bridge the gap between mobile app demand and supply. Significant innovation is driving this market and replacing traditional coding approaches, such as native development tools, with more effective RMAD tools. There are many approaches to RMAD, including drag-and-drop codeless tools, code generation and orchestration, model-driven development, virtualization, forms construction, and others. These approaches are allowing those with no programming skills or coding ability, such as people in business roles, to rapidly assemble mobile app prototypes and continuously iterate on these designs.
4) Adopt a mixed-sourcing approach
Organizations want to have full control over their mobile app development initiatives, however, maintaining a pure in-house development environment is difficult to achieve given mobile is a relatively new competency to many developers. It entails many complexities and specific activities, such as UX design and psychology or cellular coverage testing, which may be more efficiently handled by an outsourced third party experienced in mobile app development. Gartner believes organizations will improve their in-house mobile development skills over time, but currently only 26 percent of organizations are adopting an in-house-only development approach, while 55 percent are successfully delivering apps using mixed sourcing.