Enterprise mobility is not one of those passing workplace fads like calisthenics or mindfulness. The modern workplace is moving slowly but stalwartly towards the adoption of technology. Gartner forecasts worldwide IT spending will grow 2.4 percent in 2015, exceeding $3.8 trillion. By 2018, spending is expected to exceed $4.1 trillion.
Of all the areas where IT spend will be directed, it’s safe to say app-building will be a major one. Research by Enterprise Mobility Exchange suggests that 62.5 percent of businesses invested in mobile apps last year.
But if you want to produce a company app, whether you’re a small-to-medium enterprise, cottage industry, family business, multinational, etcetera…whichever it is, you will face a fairly uniform set of challenges. Have no fear, for there are ways around them.
A bit of research on the matter will tell you that people will want to charge you a lot of money. And I mean, a lot of money, consistently, on many occasions. Let’s say the cost of building an app is £X.
Your sales team pays for a great app and they’ve very happy with it. But then the HR team gets wind of how great this new app is, and they want one too. And so does the payroll team, the comms department and so on.
So now you’re looking at £4X. But actually, a few people within each team use different devices, so you’re going to need an Android version, an iOS version, Windows Phone. So now we’re looking at £8X.
It’s a problem that enterprise mobility specialist Kony has been working to solve ever since it was founded by Raj Koneru in India in 2007. The company’s solution was to create a platform that consolidates each of these app-building stages into one service.
In other words, you don’t end up paying again and again – Kony will provide apps for different functions with the company and allow the same business logic to be used on different platforms.
"Kony’s multi-channel development platform allows you to combine and orchestrate data from multiple sources – web services, legacy systems and websites – to drive new application experiences that were previously impossible," says Jonathan Best, Vice-President of Europe and Africa at Kony.
"The Kony platform leverages loose coupling as part of a Services Oriented Architecture that separates the user interface, client side logic and service-side services and infrastructure to build feature-rich, multi-channel apps that run across desktops, smartphones, tablets, feature phones, and kiosks in web-based, native and hybrid deployment modes.
"This loose coupling architecture allows you to re-use these components in your long-term app strategy of building more than one app. The more apps you build, the more you can reuse and the faster you will get to market, which thereby will ultimately save you cost over an extended period of time."
Staying ahead of the game
As Jonathan comments, offering an app used to be a "differentiator" – now it is just a given. Within a few years of the dawn of the smartphone, the landscape has shifted dramatically. Any banks that don’t already have an app are now frantically scrabbling to get one, just to keep up with their rivals. The insurance industry is possibly a bit further behind, but Jonathan expects to see the same uniformity there fairly soon.
Further complicating this fast-moving world, is the speed with which Apple or Android tend to release new operating platforms. Not only do you have to produce an app, but you have to keep it in sync with the latest coding developments.
Kony guarantees that all apps will be up-to-date with the latest operating system within 30 days, across all smartphone platforms. Their dedicated team of developers tracks any minor changes on the way from the major operating systems.
"Determining whether to pursue a new OS upgrade is a huge undertaking for any enterprise organisation (and in particular the IT department)," added Jonathan. "It is usually a given that the new OS is better for the organisation to adopt.
"However, the issues and concerns with moving apps to a new OS is less about whether doing so is better for features and functionality and more so about ensuring that nothing breaks or is less secure and that there is no collateral damage in the process of upgrading.
"Enterprises need to upgrade to the latest operating systems, but what does this mean for enterprises that already have B2E, B2B, and B2C apps available for their employees, business partners, and customers.
"Mobile business applications need to be compatible to take full advantage of the new features in that next OS release. To reduce issues, you need to ensure that your mobile applications are future-proofed, and ideally supported by an SLA that removes the risk and ensures full compatibility for each future OS upgrade.
"With the right mobile application partner, that has strong relationships with Apple and Google, the IT organisation can continue to focus development resources on innovation and improving the app experience for users."
Not every company wants to spend a whole lot of time devising their own specific app, especially when there are already offerings out there which already do what’s needed. It might be easier to use the expertise of other players in the market where competition isn’t an issue. Kony has an answer for this as well.
"The marketplace…enables people to much more broadly share in the benefits that individual companies get from building their applications together," Jonathan comments.
"There’s a Kony sales app, which we’ve built to be our first contribution to that. There’s a lot of organisations that have built out their Salesforce automation using sap or salesforce.com. But a lot of them are not happy with – both SAP and Salesforce provide a mobile front-end so you can have something on your smartphone – but neither of them are really designed for smartphones or tablets."
"So very simply we’ve built this sales mobile app which allows companies who want to, who are not happy with SAP or Salesforce’s mobile front end, which is quite a lot of companies, to use an app pre-built from Kony to do a much better job than that."
The key is the customisation offered by Kony’s model framework, which "allows people to build from components, so what’s known in the jargon as codeless development."
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, bearing these factors in mind should provide a good starting point for any enterprise starting out on the app design route. And if you’re still waiting to get started, there’s no time like the present…