Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are transforming the way information is now being consumed. With mobile devices ubiquitous in enterprises, business leaders are looking for ways to leverage apps to drive business success.
Accustomed to having “an app for that” in their personal lives, leaders now want to bring these benefits to their employees and customers, in order to increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and accelerate time-to-market for new products.
Employees are helping drive this demand, with innovative ideas for mobile apps that help them work more efficiently, improve data accuracy and increase safety while setting the expectation that business technology should be as simple to use as consumer technology. In order to meet this demand, IT teams have the unique opportunity to champion a new generation of enterprise applications, and lead their companies on a mobile-first journey.
Many organizations still work within the confines of a corporate IT structure, which dictates the software toolkits, methods, preferred vendors and technology platforms available for use. This makes it challenging to adapt to a mobile approach that demands consumer-like user experiences, speed and ease of app development, rapid and high volume app scaling, frequent updates, instant distribution — all combined with the persistent need for enterprise-grade security, efficient backend data integration, user authentication and app management capabilities.
The collision of consumerization of IT and mobile-first trends has led to fundamental changes for IT departments. Mobile application development tools are cheap, plentiful and accessible to all, making it easier for business to bypass the IT department and outsource their app projects, particularly when IT does not have the necessary app development skills in house. In many cases IT is beginning to lose control over the business apps that have been deployed and the tools, platforms and vendors that have been used to create them.
New Tradition for IT
With the need to create and launch increasing numbers of mobile apps with rapid go-to-market rates and to integrate these with multiple backend sources, the traditional development approach has been turned on its head. Modern software toolkits and SaaS models have helped deliver speed, agility and simplicity of development, while the cloud has emerged as an important enabler of backend integration, storage and scaling.
Besides the need for speed, app developers need to focus on enhanced user experience, leaving them less time to spend on complex backend integration and tooling with the underlying infrastructure.
These disruptions have a radical impact on the role of IT — from controlling seven-figure, multi-year enterprise application projects to no longer fully determining how software is developed or consumed within the business. In this new age of mobile agility and consumerization, the challenge for IT teams is how to evolve from being traditional gatekeepers to being enablers and champions of mobile enterprise applications.
New Class of Apps
Fortunately, a new class of mobile application technology has emerged that’s helping business leaders and IT through this challenging time. These next generation mobile app platforms, enabled by the cloud, provide everything needed to drive a mobile-first strategy.
The business areas gain the freedom to decide what apps they need, whether native, hybrid, or pure web, and can outsource this front-end development if necessary. The IT department then ensures that the connectivity of these apps to backend systems is at all times secure and that the apps are distributed, authorized and managed across the organization to the appropriate users.
IT can also manage the deployment of backend code to the cloud infrastructure of their choice, allowing app developers to focus on creating engaging front-end experiences that drive user engagement.
Using cloud technology, a mobile application platform acts as the middleware between backend systems and the device, whereby the cloud stores, caches, syncs and manages the different data that comes from backend and third-party systems. This makes it fast and easy for organizations to push out large volumes of apps across the organization, while IT maintains control over backend systems and the delivery of sensitive corporate data to and from the device.
Enterprise IT teams taking the long-term view know that IT needs to regain control over the new mobile environment but do so in a way that doesn’t inhibit the innovation that mobile apps and the cloud can deliver. Cloud based mobile application platforms are bridging that gap, ensuring that organizations can meet the demand for mobile application innovation without having to sacrifice security, scalability or time to market.
This model is helping transform IT departments from being gatekeepers to business enablers. It’s a 360 degree shift for the traditional IT organization. However, the new opportunities that mobile, cloud, SaaS, and consumerization offer help accelerate this transformation and elevate IT to a position of mobile champion and a key driver of mobile strategy. Those organizations that can adopt the mobile-first mindset and approach will undoubtedly become the business leaders of the future.