Mobile has become an inescapable part of the software development landscape, and the last few years have shown that companies have no choice but to adapt for a mobile-first environment. Despite the emphasis on mobility in recent years, however, many traditional enterprise software vendors have been slow to embrace the new mindset, continuing instead to pursue entrenched business models, according to a recent GigaOM Research report. A shift toward more agile methodologies and a thorough consideration of development options available can help these firms move toward a realistic incorporation of mobile in 2014.
The mobile application market is anticipated to see substantial growth in the years ahead, climbing from $25 billion in 2012 to $50 billion in 2017, according to Strategy Analytics. And the mobile workforce – which uses smartphones and tablets for everything from video conferencing to in-the-field worker reports – will exceed 200 million people, SD times recently reported.
Yet while mobile enterprise applications have been key influential factors in software development and consumption in the corporate space, the majority of enterprise software developers have not yet embraced a mobile-first philosophy, GigaOM Research reported. Independent software vendors are also likely to find that CIOs are less often the arbiters of IT purchasing decisions, and they may need to branch out to engage with consumers and employees directly, possibly by tailoring applications for enterprise app stores. The failure to do so could have detrimental business consequences.
"Despite an obvious need to embrace mobility as a key pillar of enterprise development, entrenched business models have hampered the ability of established [independent software vendors] to do so," the report stated.
Moving toward mobile
With the obvious importance of mobile, vendors need to adjust their methodologies accordingly, SD Times noted. Among the decisions firms face is the choice of mobile platform, whether native Android, iOS or Windows; Web/HTML5; or a single codebase compiled into multiple native apps. One recent survey from Appcelerator found that more than six in 10 companies supported three or more operating systems. However, the top reported obstacle to app delivery is building for multiple devices and platforms.
One of the best ways for companies to adapt and cater to a variety of platforms is with an agile approach, David Tucker, director of research and development and principal architect at software firm Universal Mind, told SD Times. Agile brings teams – front-end developers, back-end developers, QA staff – closer together and keeps development moving along at a steady pace while encouraging adaptiveness.
"Innovation is easier," ," he explained. "Micro-level experimentation can happen with minimal impact to overall project budget, and user feedback is more easily incorporated for each sprint."
Aiding in the deployment of agile methodologies is the increased array of agile-friendly tools, Tucker added. Companies can leverage software such as version control systems and peer code review tools to better collaborate and stay better informed. As companies potentially step outside their comfort zone or expand the scope of development in terms of the number of platforms being catered to as they branch out from traditional software to mobile-first creation, such tools are essential.
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