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Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

Overcoming the challenges of mobile app development

15-Nov-2017
Overcoming the challenges of mobile app development
Juniper Research forecasts that total revenues from mobile apps are on track to reach $99 billion by 2019, and by the end of 2018 it’s estimated 84% of the world population will be using mobile technology.

However, one big barrier that could slow the pace of mobile app development is the industry-wide skills crisis in mobile app development.

This issue was recently highlighted by IT recruitment firm, Robert Half who claimed that increased demand for mobile apps has made it challenging for companies to find candidates with mobile app development skills.

One issue is that businesses have traditionally not only need great technical skills, but people with softer business skills too. They need people with project management experience and excellent communication skills able to collaborate effectively with colleagues and report into leaders across a business. This combination is scarce and consequently, the skills shortage is starting to have an impact.

According to Gartner more than a quarter of enterprises globally, have not built, customised or virtualised any mobile apps in the last 12 months. The analysts noted that the primary barriers to mobile initiatives are resources related — linked to lack of funds, long worker hours and skills gaps.

On top of the skills crisis companies face common technical challenges with mobile app development too. These include the difficulty of creating proper business apps for multiple devices produced by different manufacturers, keeping up with changes in technologies and standards, as well as database integration and synchronisation issues.

But many companies who recognise the potential benefits of mobile apps for their business are working to overcome these hurdles. They understand that mobile business apps could deliver a wide range of business benefits, from extending the reach, functionality and life of an existing line of business applications to improving customer service and business efficiency, and helping them with direct marketing.

Business apps could also enable their management teams and employees to run their operations more effectively, or be used to engage customers and boost growth. Either way developing a mobile app is something many businesses can’t afford to ignore.

How can businesses overcome the skills shortage?
One option favoured by some companies is to hire a team of external developers. However, the downside is the expense of bringing in external people, plus it can be difficult for external people to really understand the business in the same way as an in-house team.

Increasingly, savvy companies are turning to a more cost-effective solution to bridge the skills gap and that’s using no code or low code development tools such as rapid business app development platforms. These tools can transform the app development process and enable businesses to meet the explosion in demand for apps, without the need to recruit additional manpower.

The main benefit for organisations is they can use internal staff or what are known as ‘citizen developers’ to develop mobile business apps in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional development methods. The development cycle is dramatically shortened as internal staff can develop the app almost in parallel with specifying the requirements. The use of internal staff also makes it far easier and more cost effective when the app needs to be updated in response to business or organisational requirements.

Gartner estimates that by 2018 more than half of all B2E mobile apps will be written by citizen developers and business analysts using codeless tools such as rapid app business development platforms.

It says, “The use of codeless tools for the rapid development of straightforward projects by IT and enterprise business analysts will become an alternative to outsourcing, limiting the use of development partners to more-advanced projects. Those that resist will be bypassed and promote shadow IT.”

Benefits of rapid app development platforms
Rapid app development platforms can also reduce the amount of traditional coding or obviate the need for coding altogether. In so doing, they can lower the cost of setup, training and deployment. They enable existing staff to develop sophisticated, fully functioning web, hybrid and even native business apps, far more quickly than other methods and, often, using the skills they have. The key is to ensure that the development platform does not limit your options as to how your business evolves. Even where you develop fast web or hybrid apps, always ensure that your IT division has the option to seamlessly generate the same design as native apps as your business may require.

How this technology works in practice
Solutions4Strategy, a provider of innovative software and consultancy services serving the Australian, UK and US markets, is using rapid business app development technology to launch a series of business apps that is helping drive their international business expansion.

Previously, the company installed software on its clients’ desktops, however, as the business grew, this process was resource intensive and costly to manage and maintain. When clients updated their technology, the software wasn’t always compatible and sorting out back-end integration issues were challenging.

To resolve integration issues, reduce IT maintenance time, drive down costs and expand globally, Solutions4Strategy decided to launch cloud-based versions of its apps. After researching the market and finding the app development solutions frustratingly limited, it chose its new business app development platform, Evoke, which offered a cost-effective, flexible solution that would allow for faster app development.

One of the key attractions was Evoke’s rich data management capabilities and flexibility. The product integrates with SQL and MultiValue databases and allows full synchronisation between local systems and back-end databases.

This meant that during the development process, Solutions4Strategy could define the data it required for apps and transfer existing data into the new apps without any restrictions, saving time and money.

Another benefit was using a single app design and code base, which meant that apps could be created for multiple device types and operating systems. The solution is future proof, so no matter how much the business needs change or the technology evolves, it offers an unlimited growth path.

Using this platform Solutions4Strategy has created a more dynamic business, able to respond quickly to customers. It now offers sophisticated cloud-based apps that enable customers to keep on top of regulations and manage compliance.

Low code development tools are revolutionising the development of mobile business apps and enabling companies to use their existing staff to create sophisticated and high functioning apps. Now companies can develop mobile apps to automate business processes or engage with customers, quickly, easily and much more cost-effectively.

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