August 14, 2015
Only a few years ago, the desktop PC was the king in the Web development world. Web development ruled the roost because of the ample real-estate and luxury that the desktop offered in raw processing power and screen size. Web apps were the order of the day, with a myriad of these apps being fruitfully developed, leading to a lucrative Web apps market and countless successful Web development companies and organizations.
All those enterprises and organizations which adopted Web apps to strategize and improve their business flourished rapidly in the Web-sphere and moved rapidly up the success ladder. However, the shift that has occurred since the advent of the mobile phone means that the desktop is now relegated to the background.
According to a report by leading research agency Comscore, in late 2014, the virtual world saw 60 percent of Internet traffic come from mobile phones and other mobile gadgets. This figure is up from 50 percent a year ago, and 50 percent of this traffic is driven by mobile apps.
Today, many companies that were comfortable and cozy in the desktop era are now rudely awakening to the mobile shift. This upheaval in the virtual world has not caught analysts and experts by surprise.
Also, according to the Global Mobile Enterprise Business Application Revenue, 2012-2018,” Strategic Analytics, December 2013, it has been projected that the mobile enterprise business application market which was $31 billion in 2012 will nearly double to $61 billion by 2018.
Enterprises and organizations herald mobile as one of the best inventions to leverage its power and achieve success. Let us examine some of the best practices in enterprise mobile application development:
1. Choose the right development method
During the desktop era, most Web application development was done using the waterfall model. However, in the modern context, where mobile is the frontrunner, the waterfall method has given way to the agile model of development.
Hence, it is essential the device primarily in question is understood adequately and the correct development method is applied. Not using the right development method can cause immense delays and high levels of frustration at various levels in the enterprise.
Delays cause enterprises to lose their competitive edge in the marketplace and can lead an entire marketing strategy to failure. As consumers increasingly turn their backs on desktops and laptops for Smartphones as well as tablets, many organizations are moving at a frantic pace to adapt to the change.
For many organizations, these apps are increasingly difficult to manage, more so than their Web counterparts, but agile methods are bringing in a sense of relief and help managing the frantic pace of change.
2. Understand the device’s capabilities
In the good old days, the desktop’s capabilities were limited to what a Smartphone or a tablet can offer today. Today’s app developers can make full use of the Smartphone’s capabilities such as camera, accelerometer, Wi-Fi, GPS, touch screen, and others to deliver a complete user experience.
Hence, the enterprise Smartphone offers a range and combination of capabilities to users that can be customized to meet specific enterprise user needs. These needs can be further specifically categorized and met according to the size of the business and the specific vertical that the business is in.
3. Consider cloud development
While you might have considered native languages as well as SDK for your enterprise mobile app, there are definite advantages if you want to use the MBaaS platform or cloud development. This platform will help you as a developer to build cross-platform apps.
These apps will then be functional across Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and the mobile Web quickly and effectively. In many situations, a cloud-based app builder can be a brilliant solution, if you do not want to allocate a lot of time for each platform and don’t want to build and maintain a server structure.
4. Be serious about enterprise security
Enterprise mobile apps can be vulnerable even if you are working in a heavily-regulated industry such as IT/ITES, healthcare, finance, or others. Privacy measures must be followed to protect your users as well as their data.
Industry regulations also must be followed effectively. Follow best practices as encryption of data in transit, de-identification of user data, user authentication, as well as encryption of all sensitive data that has been stored in the cloud.
5. Ensure that all devices are supported
So that you can maximize the success of your enterprise mobile application, you need to understand that no single type of mobile OS dominates the market today. Hence, if you are developing an app, make sure that all types of mobile OS are supported. Today, there are a variety of techniques available that help support all popular mobile platforms. Therefore, people who use enterprise mobile apps cannot be expected to carry a device that pertains to a particular make or model.
6. Keep your audience in mind
Even within an enterprise, there is a specific audience. For example, an enterprise app for CRM will be different from the one you would develop for sales or HRM. Therefore, you will need a specialized app for these groups that constitute different professional specializations.
Thus, you will need to think about individuals who will need to use your app. For example, a CRM professional would need an app that would harness a Smartphone’s GPS system to plan out the next appointment in the field, while a sales professional might need the use of the Smartphone’s camera in order to click and display products for a prospective customer.
7. Always on and allow for offline usage
In this age of consumerization, users expect 24/7 availability. Offline usage is a critical factor for enterprise applications. Such scenarios are witnessed in industrial or remote settings where mobile access is limited.
It is the developers’ responsibility to ensure that the most critical operations pertaining to the application can be performed even while the user is offline. For offline access in enterprise applications, it is essential that the necessary data be pulled from the backend servers and stored locally on the device. Resynchronization will ensure that the data is updated to the central server whenever appropriate.
Shivani Ajmerani works for Fusion Informatics Ltd., a mobile applications development company that offers custom iPhone, iPad and Android application development services. She enjoys using the Internet to connect with the wider world while also achieving corporate success.