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Where are your enterprise mobile apps going to come from? Here are the top 5 options. – Brian Madden

Where are your enterprise mobile apps going to come from? Here are the top 5 options. – Brian Madden

When there’s talk of creating a formal enterprise mobility strategy, or even just when the idea of mobile-enabling your users comes up, you might think you need to have a lot of specialized apps.

And then when you think about specialized apps, you might think of the headaches that can go with developing apps (writing iOS and Android apps might be new for your company) and with integrating them with your existing software (always a lot of time and money).

But this doesn’t have to be the case. When thinking about your strategy, it helps to think holistically about all of the app options available.

1. The apps that are already on your phone

Just look down at the email client, address book, and calendar that are already on your phone. You may not think of these as very ‘strategic’—they’ve been around forever—but think about how lost you’d be without them. This is why mobility is already crucial to every single company today.

2. Software as a Service

At first, all the mobile apps connecting SaaS may have been coming in as shadow IT, outside of official purview, but now look at how many companies are deploying Box, Salesforce, Office 365, and the like.

You know what’s great about these services? They’re all mobile-enabled by default! Even if mobility wasn’t part of the decision process, moving to modern SaaS products gives you immediate access to good apps. Another chunk of your mobilization plan is solved.

3. Legacy software giants

It’s 2017—the old guard has had almost a decade to realize they need to get comfortable with mobile devices, and most of them have. IBM made a big splash with their Mobile First partnership with Apple in 2014. SAP has been pushing Fiori as a way to mobilize apps, and in 2016 followed IBM with a similar Apple partnership. Even Oracle has plenty of mobile app efforts, with over 100 iPhone apps in the store.

4. “Faster and simpler” custom apps

What if you need to make your own apps? There’s a huge range of vendors that aim to make at easier or simpler than writing them from scratch. This includes mobile app development platforms (MADP), rapid mobile app development platforms (RMAD), mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), “low-code” or “no code” app creating tools (some with drag and drop WYSIWYG editors), workflow apps, micro apps, citizen developer platforms, database front-ends like FileMaker or Citrix Secure Forms, and customizable app starter templates from software vendors.

There are so many variants and vendors in this category that it’s hard for Gabe and me to keep track of all of them (after all, we’ve always focused on desktop/mobile/EUC IT pros, not on developers). What we do follow are the variants that are related to desktop virtualization, an area that often called app transformation or refactoring. (Examples include Powwow and Capriza.)

5. Native custom apps

Finally, there’s pure native app development. This may be crucial if your app is going to be the centerpiece of a new and unique line of business for your company, if it needs high performance, if it’s customer-facing, or if it needs integration with specific mobile device hardware features.

Conclusion

There are many ways to create a mobile strategy, or to enable workers with mobile apps. Not all of them involve custom apps, and in fact, the number of off-the-shelf apps has exploded over the last three or four years.

Another observation is that even if you don’t have a formal mobility strategy, your company is likely already mobilized to a significant degree, thanks to basic productivity apps and SaaS apps you already have. When you do get to the point of building custom apps, you’ll find that options and tools abound.

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