This week's MIT Sloan CIO Symposium brings together MIT academics and CIOs to discuss how IT leaders can overcome some of the common hurdles to
5 reasons CIOs should insist on a mobile app platform
Innovative IT organizations view mobility as a critical business enabler for future growth and competitive differentiation. They prioritize mobile application development and address it strategically as part of their enterprise. As part of this endeavor they face multiple challenges, including how to efficiently provide apps for multiple operating systems and devices, how to enable secure data interactions with back office systems, and how to keep up with the latest business demands and technology advances. CIOs that leave application development solutions to developers alone may get stuck with fun-looking programming environments that are actually under-architected for their enterprise mobility needs.
By providing a uniform approach to developing, deploying and managing applications, mobile application platforms help enterprises meet these challenges. Without one, CIOs are inviting schedule misses, cost overruns and expensive maintenance scenarios.
Here are five reasons CIOs should insist on a mobile development platform:
- Support for agile programming: Pre-packaged functionality in the platform allows enterprises to reduce their development time by up to 80%, reducing time-to-market as well as costs. This rapid, agile development allows developers to easily respond to end user input at all stages of development, ensuring that the resulting applications are better adapted to user requirements and market needs. For example, agile teams creating an enterprise portal for a 3PL (third-party logistics) company recently found that by using a platform they could easily composite legacy business application logic and data in new mobile apps that revolutionized their business processes.
- Multi-platform and multi-channel capability: Application development platforms provide the required infrastructure to interface with all types of mobile devices including tablets, phones, and laptops while also enabling integration with back office and legacy systems. Pre-packaged functionality can be configured and activated across any platform, whether native or HTML5. For example, Boston Medical Center used a mobile application platform to deliver its multi-channel apps with robust functionality via Rich Internet Applications on Windows Desktops, and iPhones and Google Nexus 7 tablets. When the same platform can develop and deploy desktop and mobile apps based on a single language, that is extremely efficient from a development standpoint.
- Security: Today’s enterprise mobile users are carrying out tasks that would previously only have been available behind the firewall, so it’s increasingly important that security is built in at the device, application and user levels which is enabled by using a platform. Platforms enable all of this, not as a patch-based solution but as a single-stack solution allowing features to be easily built in for app level security, mobile application management and mobile device management. Dove Tree Canyon Software, for instance, used its multi-channel mobile application platform to deliver mobile apps incorporating advanced identity management, user rights management and secure encryption.
- Auditability and Governance: Platforms have the ability to encode auditability and governance automatically into applications going beyond the user interface. Policies can be defined for how the application should handle data when there is no connectivity, such as offline apps used when traveling underground on trains, on a remote stretch of highway or an overloaded urban cell. In addition, data or applications can be set to only be accessed in certain countries, or when an employee is working from home, via geo-fencing.
- Future proof: Most platform vendors incorporate the latest mobile technology into their platform updates, allowing applications to be kept up-to-date. This has always been a benefit of using platforms, but it is especially noticeable with mobile due to the rapid evolution of the technology, especially when it comes to security and data standards. MAG Integration who is developing apps for athletes at the Quebec Games (Jeux de Québec), was expected to demonstrate apps for the games years ahead of their actual deployment. “A future-proof platform approach is essential to that,” says Michel Maurice, Managing Director at MAG Integration. “Without a platform that’s designed to adapt to new devices, screen sizes and operating systems, we could lose all our efforts and be forced to reprogram for a deployment window of only a few days.”
Innovative CIOs are leading their organizations towards new ways of working in an increasingly connected and mobile world. With the increasing numbers of mobile apps being deployed, it’s important for CIOs to make sure their organizations are making the most efficient investments for their enterprise mobility needs. Mobile development platforms with multi-channel deployment capabilities, security, management and back-end integration capabilities make a whole lot of sense. But even when choosing between platforms, developers may push for the options with the most bells and whistles, while CIOs understand the importance of keeping the businesses interest at heart and thus need to consider the entire picture of costs, developer productivity, security, management and more.