Mobile Enterprise App Development Life-Cycle Services

Media tablet and smartphone software applications (apps) have entered the mainstream of business technology. In fact, results from recent market research by International Data Corporation (IDC) demonstrates that service providers are already reporting increasing enterprise and independent software vendor (ISV) activity -- centered upon the new commercial mobile apps ecosystem that has emerged.

These latest developments are establishing mobile initiatives for a variety of horizontal and industry-specific business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) application scenarios.

Enabling Mobile Enterprise Agile App Development

Furthermore, third parties are increasing their mobile application life-cycle investments to meet the growing demand for mobile applications -- such as native, Web-based or cross-platform -- with an emphasis on accelerating client mobile applications to market at lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with higher productivity and quality.

An insightful IDC study has analyzed the emerging new mobility services market and reviewed vendor investments in infrastructure and mobile intellectual property (IP) -- across fourteen different providers.

The following are key factors influencing growth in this segment:
  • Accelerating mobile IP creation or investment and partnership activity through component reusability, application factories, and use of internal IP for rapid cross-platform portability are central to service provider investments.
  • Partnerships with mobile enterprise application platform vendors are on the rise as are initiatives that integrate smart device technology with cloud-based back-end applications to improve efficiency, reduce cost, and generate new revenue streams.
  • The importance of usability and user experience (UX) is becoming a critical best practice to accelerate development timeframes and ensure alignment to business expectations.
  • Mobile development is frequently being packaged as part of broader mobile application life-cycle services -- with heightened attention to mobile platform selection, business case development, architectural planning (e.g. back end integration), and agile mobile development and testing.

"As third-party service providers move forward, they will need to address the broader spectrum of enterprise customer needs, from new entrants to the mobile space to more mature customers that have been engaged in a mobile road map strategy for a few years," said Rona Shuchat, director, Application Outsourcing Services at IDC.

The focus will be on building relevant and innovative business-centric solutions -- using mobile device apps as a key enabler.

As such, it's important to conceptualize new use-cases that will increase operational efficiencies and facilitate higher worker productivity, lower the cost of end-to-end order and supply chains, or introduce effective new ways of marketing products to end-customers via mobility.

Business Objectives Drive the Shift to Cloud Services

Adoption of cloud computing services continues to accelerate as organizations move from limited deployments to comprehensive solutions, according to the latest market study by CompTIA, the non-profit trade association for the information technology (IT) industry.

More than half (56 percent) of the organizations surveyed for the CompTIA study said their investment in cloud computing will increase by 10 percent or more over the next 12 months.

“This additional investment will likely be accompanied by greater complexity in the overall cloud strategy, such as moving to a hybrid cloud model or adopting more advanced services beyond Software as a Service (SaaS),” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. ”Organizations may begin exploring options such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), which will allow them to experiment with custom application development.”

IT departments are often a key driver behind the transition to managed cloud services, but the CompTIA study suggests individual business unit leaders within an organization are equally or perhaps more likely to now seek out the benefits of a cloud service deployment.

About one in five (21 percent) companies surveyed said that line of business leaders championed the transition to a cloud solution -- independently of their IT department.

“Most SaaS applications are easily accessible through the Internet, making it relatively easy for business employees to use them without involving the IT staff,” Robinson said. “But there are risks in this approach, as lines of business often do not have the same awareness of security and reliability as the IT department.”

Demand for Procurement and Implementation Guidance

That being said, apparently the results from the study provided no specific evidence of where CIOs or other IT managers demonstrated security breaches -- as a result of business leaders leading the shift to managed cloud services.

However, the CompTIA study findings did indicate that there's growing interest throughout these organizations to invest more in cloud computing education and thereby learn about the technology deployment considerations.

Although the mainstream business manager's understanding of cloud computing has improved over the past year, many users continue to have questions regarding details of cloud service implementation.

The 2010 CompTIA cloud computing study found that 60 percent of end users desired a clearer definition of cloud computing. In 2011, that number increased to 66 percent.

Areas where users want more clarity include the types of cloud computing offerings (Software as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service) and the types of deployment models (public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud services).

Attainment of Business Objectives Drives the Shift to Cloud

Organizations that have invested the time to learn about -- or are experimenting with -- cloud solutions indicate they have a higher level of comfort with cloud computing offerings. Approximately 72 percent of these organizations feel more positive about cloud computing now than they did one year ago. Another 25 percent of survey respondents report no change in their perception.

“For those who feel more positively about the cloud than they did a year ago, the primary reasons are the technical benefits and the ability to achieve other business objectives,” Robinson noted. “This finding is in line with data from other CompTIA surveys, where the primary advantage of cloud computing appears to be increased capability, not cost savings."

Note: the survey included 500 IT business professionals and other key decision makers within the U.S. market.

How Mobile Applications will Transform all Businesses

Mobile communication related activity is now considered the number one business technology issue on the minds of IT professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the latest market study by IDC. Their analysts have been exploring, in depth, what mobility really means for organizations and how utilizing a variety of commercial mobile applications will become the norm in the near future.

Clearly, enterprise mobility has been a familiar topic for savvy business and technology leaders within most multinational organizations. For many companies it means mobile email, perhaps some form of unified communications (UC) or fixed mobile convergence (FMC).

Moreover, for the more adventurous IT leaders, they have already embarked on extending workplace applications into the mobile environment.

How Mobility Supports Operational Business Goals

Tim Dillon, IDC's Associate Vice President for Asia-Pacific says, "That's yesterday's view. It's changed. Organizations that continue to take enterprise mobility for granted will be swept aside in the new environment. Today, we’re seeing what we could call a perfect storm, created by the evolution of different areas of technology combining to fundamentally, and drastically change how organizations can use enterprise mobility to support business goals and strategies."

IDC research clients are seeing new access networks, new devices, new mobile operating systems, business related applications (apps), platforms and delivery models come together to create an all-embracing enterprise mobility.

Previous IT turning points were the move from mainframes to desktops, and the growth of Internet access. Now, new mobile devices and numerous productivity-oriented applications will constitute the next wave of business technology adoption.

Amongst the many issues that IDC will continue to explore, perhaps the changing landscape for devices is most prevalent -- where media tablets, such as the Apple iPad, and large-screen smartphones can now run almost fully functional versions of all enterprise software and services.

Smarter and more capable mobile operating systems, along with the applied talent of independent software developers, are providing the market with the ingredients for an agile ecosystem that can quickly mobilize these new applications -- extending the functionality of virtually all IT systems to mainstream mobile devices.

Mobility Combined with Cloud Computing Services

Dillon adds, "ICT is evolving on multiple fronts to create a true revolution in mobility. As enterprise applications become mobile, the boundaries of the enterprise become extended and blurred. With the constant evolution in devices and applications that tap into the core enterprise systems, all systems become increasingly vulnerable to the acts of negligent users and malicious attacks -- companies will need to pair pervasive mobility with ubiquitous security."

Furthermore, as more and more communication and collaboration applications transition to the cloud -- via either managed public or private cloud computing services -- demand for mobile access is likely to increase, in line with the continued user adoption of multifaceted smartphones and purpose-built business-centric tablets.