Summary: Mobile app development is finally picking up steam in the business world. Organizations have recognized that they must adapt their existing apps to mobile devices, and create applications for the employees and/or customers. In this article, we explore some of the biggest trends that will impact enterprise mobile development in the coming year.
Mobile is primed to explode in the business world over the next few years. A recent survey found that over half of businesses plan to deploy 10 or more enterprise mobile apps during the next two years. Another study finds the use of custom mobile business applications saw a year-over-year increase of 730 percent.
How big is the enterprise mobile application trend about to become? Gartner predicts that the demand for enterprise mobile apps will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization’s capacity to deliver them.
While mobile will become the hottest area in the business world over the next few years, what can we expect in 2016? Today, let’s explore this area. Here are 5 big trends shaping enterprise mobile development in the coming year:
1. The need for (development) speed
“Speed will be everything,” says Mary Brittain-White, CEO of Retriever Communications. “Companies may take 12 months to get to a decision but once made they expect the deployment to be within the next calendar quarter. This speed leads development to two places: very simple forms based Apps or off-the –shelf applications.
In the world of mobile, development speed is essential. But, as mentioned above, Gartner believes the demand for enterprise mobile apps will far exceed the supply. Enterprise IT departments will struggle to deliver applications fast enough. Why?
This problem stems from a couple of issues: First, the traditional (slow) development methods of the past do not translate to mobile. In the past, a typical development project usually lasted for 6 months (on the short end). In the fast-moving mobile world, this isn’t good enough.
Second, mobile development requires new skillsets. Many development teams don’t have the skills or experience for mobile development, and can’t afford to bring these skills in-house.
Yet, despite these challenges, the demand for mobile isn’t going away. In the coming year, organizations must find new ways to meet the growing mobile needs. Whether they acquire new skills, learn new skills, or purchase tools, one thing is clear: The need for speed will play a major impact on enterprise mobile development in 2016.
2. The rush towards DIY mobile platforms
As the demand for mobile grows, businesses are realizing something: Most don’t have the resources to handle mobile development on their own.
But, how do they quickly deliver the applications they need, while lacking the skills to do it in-house? These combined factors are driving driving more and more organizations to DIY platforms.
While not new, these platforms have advanced significantly over the past few years. They let businesses create powerful applications, without the need for mobile-specific development skills. Driven by the need for development speed, these platforms will drive much of the enterprise mobile development efforts in the coming year.
“Because most people who are looking to have an app built do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to blow on development, they tend to look towards the direction of overseas dev as it is way cheaper,” says Dylan Osborn, CEO/Founder of NiLi. “What happens here however, is there is a lot lost in translation and you have to be your own project manager. This means you will be up having meetings at 12AM meeting with the people offshore, and need to know exactly everything that has to go into the final product to make it work.
I have seen it happen plenty of times, for myself included, where the finished product doesn’t work they way you wanted it to and now you are out all that money and time you spent developing.
The DIY Platform solution is perfect because it delivers a fully functioning product for a fraction of the time and cost. This not only gives a head start to the competition, but allows you to start proving your products market need without having to dump a lot of resources into it.”
3. The move towards cross-platform development approaches
The downside of native mobile app development has always been complexity. Building a cross-platform native application required at least three different applications. Since each platform required a different programming language, it often required three different developers. After development, it also meant three different applications to maintain.
This barrier made native application development impractical for many businesses. Now, that’s changing.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen many improvements in cross-platform development options. Tools have emerged that let you create cross-platform native apps from one code-base. Facebook recently open-sourced their React framework, which lets developers share code between Android and iOS. Hybrid app development tools let you convert your mobile web apps into native apps.
Now, these aren’t new developments. But, they’ve reached a point where they offer business-class capabilities. Combined with the growing demand for enterprise mobile apps, we’ll see a move towards cross-platform approaches in 2016.
“Cross platform development and management tools allow developers to develop applications using common coding languages such as C# or Java that run on all three major mobile platforms and their desktop counterparts,” says Dirk Garner, Principal Consultant at Garner Software. “By using shared code bases and including ready-built components app development is accelerated and overall quality is improved. Because a single code base can be used across operating systems it is easier and more economical to support several operating systems and multiple device types making omnipresence an affordable and sustainable reality for mobile, tablet, desktop, and watch. “
4. The increase of mobile attacks
Every year, consumers integrate more and more of their lives with their mobile devices. They’ve replaced contact books and calendars. For many, they’ve replaced the PC. And now–with the rise of mobile payments–mobile is primed to replace your wallet.
However, this convenience is not without risks. As adoption and usage continues to grow, mobile becomes a more appealing target for attackers. While we haven’t seen many massive malware attacks aimed at mobile devices, that will likely change in the near future. Mobile is becoming too big a target to pass up.
As Gartner explains in this article, it’s already begun. Mobile devices are seeing a rapid growth in malware attacks. To make matters worse, mobile attackers are becoming more sophisticated.
To make matters even worse, mobile users have notoriously bad security habits. One study found that most users refuse to lock their mobile devices with a PIN because it was “too cumbersome.” The fact is, mobile users are largely uninformed about security threats and best practices.
To address these growing risks, two things will happen in the coming year. First, we’ll see more businesses provide mobile security education to their users. Second, security will take a primary focus in the mobile app development process–especially in the area of mobile transactions.
“An area of tremendous growth for mobile development in 2016 will be securing mobile transactions. Security concerns are the biggest roadblock for consumers still reluctant to adopt mobile payment systems. Businesses, as well as customers, are eager for more secure payment methods that will lower the costs of constant breaches,” says Darren Guccione, CEO and co-founder of Keeper Security Inc.
“In order to be secure, mobile payments need a strong authentication mechanism in place. In 2016, mobile wallets that offer contactless near field communication (NFC) payments, tokenization of card numbers (instead of having to connect to the Internet for every transaction, limited-use virtual cards would be stored on your phone), and a convenient, effortless user experience secured by fingerprint biometric authentication will become a standard feature on new smartphones. Also, more merchants will need to adopt point-of-sale systems that can accept mobile payments via tapping, waving and similar functionality while, at the same time, not compromising security.”
5. The growth of microservices
Over the past few years, microservices has quickly turned into the preferred method for software development. What does it mean? As explained in this article, “the microservice architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.”
In other words, rather than building every feature directly into the application (the monolithic approach), the microservice approach creates applications from many smaller services.
Up until now, mobile apps have largely taken a monolithic approach. Every feature was built into the application itself. But now, that’s changing.
As explained in IDC’s report, “The Evolving State of Mobile Software Development,” “The shift to a microservices approach to organizing internal development teams is extending to mobile app development teams.”
In other words, we’re seeing the growth of microservices that span all platforms–a trend we can expect to see more of in the coming year.
“Microservices will become the standard way software and applications are being built,” says Nishant Patel, CTO and Founder of Built.io. “The days of the monolithic app that “does it all” are over. Back when integration was difficult and time consuming, enterprises gravitated toward single-vendor solutions that could fulfill the majority of their requirements – at least on paper – from as few sources as possible. “Jack of all trades and master of none”-solutions are now being left in the dust by innovative experiences that thoughtfully combine best-of-breed capabilities and services (i.e. microservices) from different sources and integrate them for a seamless user experience. Instead of ordering a me-too, cookie cutter conference app, for example, more and more event organizers are demanding cutting edge features be assembled in order to offer something that’s exciting and truly unique for their users. With a new wave of integration technologies, the hurdle to combine different solutions and integrate different vendors’ services into a coherent solution is being eliminated.”
Now, these are just a few trends shaping enterprise mobile development in the coming year, but the list could go on. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.