Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Your Guide to Choosing the Mobile App Development Platform That’s Right for You

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Mobile apps are for everyone. The common man can use them for directions, the tech savvy young adult to streamline work by utilizing voice technology, the protective mother to keep watch over her children, and now more than ever, by enterprises looking for innovative ways to tackle specific business issues. The difference between the populous and the enterprise is that the latter must bypass the common app store, venture into the backend world, and try their hand with an enterprise app development platform.

Mobile App Development Platforms
At its most basic, a mobile app development platform is software that enables developers to build, test and deploy apps. It can made in-house or purchased from a third-party vendor. When made in-house, it can include tailor-made customized features, and when purchased, it’s features differ from vendor to vendor. Some platforms are also technically ‘codeless’ and facilitate the development process. These platforms save time, money and resources with reusable components and templates, but make sacrifices in the form of customizable options. Codeless platforms also require minimal developer expertise and knowledge of programming languages. They ease the development process and are especially useful for in-house developers who want an app but don’t have enough resources for an expert.

‘Purposeless’ Enterprise Mobile Apps
Enterprise apps are as diverse as their non-enterprise counterparts. While by no means purposeless, some enterprise apps have a less defined purpose than those filling specific niches in the workplace. These ‘purposeless’ apps can range from informing you of the lunch specials in the corporate cafeteria to letting you know when the vending machine down the hall is out of your favorite drink. In the end, they still help the business by saving time that could be better spent working, but their purpose isn’t as business-centric as other apps.

Enterprise Mobile Apps for Productivity

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Here’s where the purposeful apps that boost productivity come in. To start things off, why are enterprises developing apps? Take a look at these stats to find out:

● 39% of employees agree that enterprise apps make the workplace more efficient
● Enterprises gain an average of 240 hours per employee each year by utilizing mobile apps
● 66% of enterprises are expecting to increase their investment in mobile apps within the next three years

The takeaway here is that enterprises are investing more in mobile apps because they increase productivity, enhance task performance, and are a key ingredient for business growth. They can be external and benefit a company’s customers by providing loyalty programs and instant support in the form of a chatbot, or internal and solve the daily work needs of a company’s employees by managing inventory, tracking orders, generating leads, and much more. The possibilities are literally limitless because each business has its own set of needs and can develop a myriad of apps for each need.

Enterprise App Development Platform Considerations
The first consideration to be made is what type of app you want. Is it for internal or external purposes? What will it do? Once you answer these questions you can move to the next consideration, which is choosing between an in-house platform or one provided by a third-party. The codeless platforms we covered earlier also come into play here, and their use is called rapid mobile app development (RMAD). They make apps that are ‘good enough’ to address internal issues, but shouldn’t be used if you plan on developing a client-facing external app. Next comes mobile platform. Because different platforms require different operating systems, cross-platform capability is also something to consider. The two most popular mobile platforms are Android and iPhones, which use the Android and iOS operating system respectively.

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After you choose a platform it’s time to decide on an app type. Native apps are designed and coded for a specific platform, and can tap into the device-specific hardware such as the camera, flashlight, microphone, compass, etc. Web apps are like mobile versions of websites that load within a web browser. Their scope is more limited, but because they load within browsers, work across devices. The combination of the two creates hybrid apps that are built with cross-compatible web technologies, and native code for improved performance within each platform. Last but not least are a new type of apps called progressive web apps (PWA). These are similar to hybrid apps in that they combine the best of mobile and web, but are inherently different. They’re built using an app shell that keeps the app’s user interface and content separated, and service workers that allow for offline use. Read more on PWAs here. Something else to consider is method of deployment. Do you want a cloud-based service or an on-site deployment? Cloud-based services tend to be easier and faster because everything is kept online and can be accessed from multiple locations, but on-site deployments bypass cloud-based subscription fees and offer more control.

To wrap things up, keep in mind that enterprise mobile apps are rapidly becoming a must-have in the world of business. They increase productivity, streamline tasks, and create efficient work environments. But before embarking on your enterprise app development journey, take time to think of the considerations we went over today as you decide which development platform is best for you.

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