Mobile apps: Advancing on enterprise


By Cathal McGloin, vice president, mobile platforms, Red Hat

According to Forrester Research: “In 2016, 61% of mobility decision makers at enterprises expect to roll out new mobile-based products and services, and 62% will increase their budgets to pay for more apps. Laggards will begin rolling out mobile apps for customer-facing employees, while leaders will enable more employees with mobile apps that improve operational tasks.”

However, in spite of additional investment, delivery of mobile applications is expected to be an ongoing challenge for enterprises. According to Gartner: “By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organisations’ capacity to deliver them.”

As a result, I predict that enterprises will continue to adopt new working practices and coding tools to enable them to meet the demand for mobile apps. In addition, I anticipate greater collaboration between business and IT, a broadening of cloud and telco capabilities to support mobility, and increased enterprise adoption of rapid mobile application development (RMAD) tools and lightweight scripting languages will emerge as key mobile trends in 2016.

Sharing responsibility for mobile apps

As enterprise mobility matures, I believe that 2016 will see an increase in the number of enterprises establishing mobile centres of excellence for app development, with more collaboration across business and IT departments to plan, coordinate, and share lessons on mobile best practice. Business managers will play a greater role in mobile app development strategy, decision making and budgeting.

A survey of 200 European and US enterprises, undertaken by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Red Hat in September 2015, found that 37% of respondents had already created collaborative mobile centres of excellence, with IT and lines of business working together to support the delivery of mobile apps to the business. I expect this trend to continue.

The adoption of frameworks and approaches that foster greater agility will accelerate. The survey identified a shift toward lightweight scripting languages to support fast and continuous delivery of custom mobile apps. The proportion of respondents planning to use .NET as their main programming language in the next two years is 19% (compared to 56% in 2015).

A quarter (26%) of respondents indicated that they plan to primarily use Node.js within the next two years, while 19% report that they will primarily use JavaScript to support their mobile app development strategies.

I predict that organisations will continue to adopt agile technologies to meet mobile app demand and believe that RMAD tools will play a greater role for lines of business as they try to meet the growing need for apps, without placing demands on an over-burdened IT department.

This, in turn, can lead to more innovation around RMAD as vendors enhance the features and extend the functionality of their offerings here.

Scaling in the enterprise

I expect 2016 will also see broader adoption of platform as a service (PaaS) and technology stacks that help developers to access the services they need to develop, host, integrate, deploy, and scale enterprise software applications across the organisation, and mobile services will play an increasing role in these cloud environments.

Some forward thinking telcos have begun offering enterprise app development services, and I predict that more will take up this business model in 2016, as well as smaller cloud service providers. We will also see handset vendors teaming up with telcos and full stack providers to provide hardware; pre-packaged, semi-custom apps; and support offerings, to help enterprises to get their apps to market faster.

Cloud has emerged as a key enabler for enterprise mobility, facilitating greater developer efficiency, scalability, and flexibility. As a result, some cloud vendors have broadened their offerings to include more value-added mobile cloud solutions.

I predict that cloud vendors will play an increasing role in the mobile market, broadening their mobile offerings to support enterprise developers and business managers with mobile backend as a service (MBaaS), RMAD, analytics and more.

The entry of cloud giants such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud into the mobile space will make it increasingly difficult for standalone vendors to compete and is likely to lead to further market consolidation in 2016.

Standalone MBaaS vendors, RMAD tool providers, and niche mobile solution vendors are likely to struggle to compete with the broader portfolios, established channel partners, and global market reach of the enterprise cloud providers.

At the same time, these larger cloud providers may be challenged to enable innovation and agility for their mobile entities and to not get buried within the confines of other infrastructures. There will still be a requirement for mobile specialists who understand the technical challenges of mobility for enterprise customers across the globe.

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