Almost every week, another vendor offering ways to quickly “mobilize” existing enterprise apps comes to our attention. However, the question that always comes up is who is mobilizing their internal enterprise apps?
First, let’s look at all these different options for transforming older desktop and web applications in apps that work on mobile devices.
For one, it goes without saying that we don’t have to worry about email because it’s already been mobile for years. Securing it is another story, but there are various approaches using MDM and MAM.
But what about all of the applications that aren’t automatically mobilized by default? Developing native mobile apps from scratch—especially ones intended to replace existing in-house enterprise applications—is no small task. You have to learn new languages, write for multiple OSes, decipher the procedures for in-house signing and distribution, and overall you just have get used to almost being vastly different from writing desktop or old-style web apps. All of this means that developing native mobile apps is out of reach or too expensive for many companies.
Fortunately there are a ton of products out there with the goal of making enterprise mobile apps simpler. For example:
- Remote desktops in all their forms, like VDI, DaaS, and RDSH, as well as simpler solutions like GoToMyPC and Splashtop.
- Form factor transformation tools for remote desktop applications, such as the XenApp Mobility Pack.
- Form factor transformation tools for web apps, such as Capriza.
- HTML5 apps and hybrid apps.
- Mobile Enterprise App Platforms (MEAP) / Mobile App Development Platforms (MADP) such as Appcelerator, Antenna, Kony, or Globo. Many of these handle deployment to multiple OS platforms, backend infrastructure, provide integrated development environments, and everything else needed to get apps out to users.
- Productivity apps like file syncing and document editing. These could come from EMM vendors, or can be along the lines of Google Apps or Office 365.
- Other mobile applications that happen to have native mobile clients, like Salesforce or Concur.
Some of these options face criticism that the experience isn’t as good as a native mobile app, but remember we’re not talking about crucial customer-facing apps, we’re talking enterprise apps. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be concerned about user experience, but in many cases, just having mobile access at all is what is important. These cheaper and simpler approaches are perfect for apps that aren’t critical enough to consider creating a native mobile version.
Who’s using these options?
Given all of these options for mobilizing enterprise applications, the question remains: who is mobilizing apps?
I’m mostly asking this as an open question to the community. I’m curious about mid-size companies that are too big or too old to have built their IT strategy on mobile-friendly options like Google Apps in the first place, or at the other end of the spectrum, too small to have a pool of resources they can throw at building in-house native mobile apps.
Like I said at the beginning, there are more alternatives all the time. Most of them seem to be growing and have plenty of references, even in the mid-market range that I described.
However the reality on the ground is that when you walk in many typical mid-size companies, mobilizing in-house apps just isn’t a priority yet—often they have plenty of other work on their plates maintaining existing applications. When will this change? Is it the lack of need? Are none of these options attractive enough? Lack of awareness? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.