Gone are the days of mobile app development being a long, expensive process—at least in the enterprise.
Although the developers of Angry Birds probably didn’t know at the time how much their app would take off, one thing’s for certain: they didn’t set out to create an app with a terrible user experience. They wanted a mobile app with depth that would cater to as wide an audience as possible, with all the right features and nothing cut-and-paste.
One of the biggest differences between the consumer and enterprise mobile app worlds is that a feature-rich, native platform, extensive mobile app doesn’t really add more users. If an enterprise has 5,000 employees, that’s the top limit. No amount of new features or rich user experience add-ons will increase the number of employees using that app past 5,000.
That challenge is a big part of the reason many enterprises have grown unwilling to commit to pairing up with a developer and a mobile application development platform (MADP) to develop rich, immersive mobile apps in a native environment. These sorts of apps are expensive, take a long time to produce, and don’t necessarily increase adoption. Why spend a quarter of a million dollars to produce an app when theoretically, an app developed at a fraction of the cost because it’s simpler would work just fine?
Enter what Gartner calls Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD). Companies like Snappii, Globo, and Out Systems have turned the MADP principle on its head. Instead of devoting months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to building an app, rapid mobile app development presents a codeless (in most cases) environment so simple that nearly anyone in the enterprise can throw an app together in just a few minutes. This lets business owners or decision makers get things done quickly and simply.
The RMAD approach is excellent for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is how it allows players in the enterprise to quickly manage apps and bring critical business elements mobile. But it also introduces a new problem: enterprise mobile app management.
When an enterprise is only developing, say, 2 apps with the traditional MADP approach, investing time, money, and a lot of labor into helping the workforce go mobile, it’s not imperative that they have a solution in place to manage the apps. 2 mobile apps in the enterprise is essentially a one-off, and it doesn’t take a lot of brain damage to manage those apps.
When you’re quickly churning out apps to meet a variety of different needs, however, perhaps even creating seasonal apps that may only be relevant for a few months at a time, you’ve taken a non-issue and put it at the forefront. You have all these apps—and that’s great—but how are you going to manage them? You need to get on an enterprise mobile application management platform if you want to have a positive user experience, high adoption rates, and perhaps most importantly, a true ROI.
For many of the clients we work with, rapid mobile app development just works. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s efficient, and it gives employees everything they need and nothing they don’t. If your enterprise switches over to an RMAD model, though, don’t leave management out of the equation. With lots of balls up in the air, MAM is the key to a successful rapid mobile app development approach.
RMAD may take less investment up-front, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore management over the long run. Go ahead and rapidly develop your mobile apps for the enterprise—just make sure that doesn’t come at the expense of a sustainable mobility program.