In a competitive and globally integrated business environment, mobility in enterprises represents the evolution towards greater business innovation, competitive growth and long term profitability. Enterprises today cannot afford to view mobility as another short-lived technology fascination; instead, today's progressive organisations must develop a clear strategy to face the 'multiplicity' of people, applications and devices so as to empower employees to integrate, communicate and collaborate for better results.
An effective solution looked at was the adoption of a mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP), which allows developers and enterprises the opportunity to keep their options open in an environment filled with diverse Operating Systems and devices. Such platforms are also accelerators of rich enterprise application markets. They provide developers with a stable application development option to address the wide range of devices used by the enterprise today and in the future. At the same time, these platforms insulate both Web-based applications and native applications from the operating system platform churn.
Here are the emerging trends in the rising enterprise application market and its implications to enterprises looking to adopt mobility solutions.
Application developers constantly worry about the future-readiness of their apps against the unyielding tide of new mobile Operating Systems (OS) and programming languages. While JavaTM has presented itself as the obvious choice for mobile app development for over a decade, competition from higher productivity languages is making it difficult to envisage its relevance moving forward.
Today, there are numerous versions of JavaTM; however, there is no clear standard linking these versions. Ultimately, a new mobile OS or platform would require a rewrite of the code to ensure the look and feel of the app is compatible across multiple Operating Systems. Additional complexity comes about when some features cannot be accessed via different devices.
One way that application developers are coping is by adopting HTML5, a versatile framework that enables cross platform mobile Web application development as their new programming interface. We also see application developers using HTML5 as the new front for their apps to give it a standard look and feel, with JavaTM at the backend. The World Wide Web Consortium's efforts to finalise HTML5 standards by 2014 would also drive greater adoption.
Advancing to the next level of user experience
Applications were initially designed to optimise the capture of transactional data, using bland, character-based user interfaces (UIs) with rows of input fields and field descriptions. This no longer holds true today. Enterprise applications are increasingly moving beyond the standard packages and becoming custom coded, especially those that are being used on mobile devices.
Powered by the rich UI of HTML5, it is now possible to have a rich Internet application or mobile app designed to deliver the same features and functions normally associated with desktop applications and adapted for mobile use. This adaptation will enable the use of relevant device features such as scanners, cameras and security functions as well as enable richer enterprise apps with relevant functionality for users on mobile devices and across browsers. The focus is moving from basic functionality to business outcomes, extending the application reach to a more diverse array of user roles.
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