The modern workplace is now a far cry from the workplace of years gone by. With desktop computers replacing laptops; mobility is now the catchphrase of the day. The average enterprise worker now features either or both smartphones and tablets in their daily workflow. As such, the modern corporate IT department is now scrambling to figure out the best mobile strategy to help maintain and improve productivity for the workforce.
A recent Forrester survey showed that 47 percent of decision makers agreed that deploying mobile apps increased worker productivity (See footnote 1). In addition, 76 percent of decision makers acknowledged that mobile apps increased employee responsiveness and decision-making speed (see footnote 1).
It is clear that investing in mobility can bring improvements to the enterprise when it comes to both efficiency and lower operational costs, via access to relevant information and action at the right time and place. Empowered by insight and the tools to accomplish more, employees are able to make better and faster decisions that can positively impact the company bottom line.
Going mobile can be done in one of three ways. The first is via native applications, which are mobile apps written in oft-proprietary languages depending on the mobile operating system chosen. As the app is built specifically for a select hardware configuration, a much richer user experience can be enabled. The downside is that developers need to create a specific version of the app for each device supported, leaving behind multiple codebases that must be maintained and updated for the same app.
The downsides of native applications can be mitigated somewhat by going via the route of mobile web applications, which are typically accessed via the device’s web browser. The modern mobile web application is exemplified by the responsive design methodology, enabled by web technologies such as HTML 5, which lets developers create one application (in other words, a single codebase) that seamlessly adapts to differing device form factors. In effect, developers only need build once, and run the same code on all devices. Furthermore, mobile web applications don’t need to be installed on user devices, with latest versions published to a public stack and made immediately available to all users, allowing for more agile deployment without having to incur the app store approval process time penalty.
The third mobile type to consider is the hybrid application, combining both the power of a native implementation, as well as the simplicity of the mobile web; building a native shell around a mobile web application is a typical example. This hybrid application provides the greatest balance of flexibility, enabling enterprises to achieve a uniform and consistent user experience across different hardware platforms with a native look and feel, while being able to leverage the speed of delivery and cross-platform compatibility of the mobile web. With the right platform, you can combine the best of responsive web design with deep device-level integration, allowing developers to create beautiful applications that are fully functional across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and web – all from a single codebase, with extraordinary speed.
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