Mobile application development platforms ( MADPs) served a key role in the evolution of enterprise and consumer mobility in streamlining the architecture to make the systems of records available at the various systems of engagements. But the world of platforms evolved as more distributed, cloud based and ability to host and integrate systems emerged. The same paradigms of platform evolutions are applicable to the way MADPs are influencing enterprise strategies.

While we group a certain set of expectations to MADPs the enterprise needs are various based on the business priorities. Some of the key expectations digital brings to platform expectations are;

·        Cross Channel Experience

·         Rapid application Development

·         Reuse and Adaptation to future standards

·         Ability to support B2C & B2E strategies

·         Digital affinity

·         Security

·         Devops

Enterprises are very sure not to fix a digital strategy based on a device, os, a version or even a form factor. Gartner Magic Quadrant 2016 recognises platforms that respect strategies that are agnostic to devices. Most of the leading platforms are essentially embracing HTML5/JS/Container strategies to achieve channel independence. We see this approach spanning across all the key players; Kony, IBM, Salesforce, Adobe, SAP, Oracle etc . Midway cross platform strategies like Microsoft Xamarin also gains momentum for cross channel approaches.

Experience definition and realisation in Digital transformation is complex as the systems of records within an enterprise problem solving arena is distributed, mixed and ever evolving and the stakeholders have varying expectations. However digital transformation is an evolving landscape and always quick prototypes, incremental experience bundling, quick integrations, piloting and experimenting with end users are often essential. Rapid application development with low-code or no-code app builders is an ideal way to approach digital transformation with an MVP strategy. However digital experience rendition for a problem is not fundamentally solvable by stock screens with drag and drop approaches. But  RAD frameworks are a great starting point to create, clean and shape advanced experiences. This capability is available with MADPs from IBM, Kony, Microsoft, Pega, Salesforce.

Adapting to future needs is mainly possible by standardisation of approaches. The reality is that HTML5/JS frameworks are the nearest form of standardisation we can expect in the fragment device, os space. However the transformation recipes of future are fundamentally linked to digital humanisation elements of voice, gesture, 3d vision and environment & context sensing capabilities interleaved with IOT. This is where the dependency is greater on native capabilities and those native sdks have an upper hand over the Web HTML5/JS technologies. Also the newer Web frameworks; either Angular2.0 or React is deviating away from a browser autonomy to more server dependency in optimising the DOM. This kind of approaches can fundamentally make the mobile containerisation complex.

The line between B2C, B2E, B2B, B2B2C are depleting when it comes to realising customer centricity as the core theme of any business transformation. A platform strategy should be able to seamlessly consume contexts of user within and outside the enterprises. Hence fundamentally a cloud based approach provides enormous flexibility as the business information models are essentially accessible to be consumed across any channels. Most of the leading MADP strategies are cloud centric, open standards based, integration friendly & secure.

Digital technologies are around Content-Customer-Commerce- Business Process Management-Integration landscape. The Mobility strategy near to these transformation catalysts has to be fundamentally seeded from within them. While we say the fundamental approach for most of these themes being HTML5/JS, each of the COTS/SAAS products have their own approach of channel enabling digital transformation beyond the rapid application development approaches. Most of the digital technologies have a 2 fold approach of APIfication and a Flexible Experience Definition. Adobe MADP strategy – AEM Mobile  is centred around Adobe marketing cloud, offerings, Microsoft strategy with Xamarin is around Azure App services, IBM around Bluemix, Watson etc,  Salesforce app cloud with Lightning  around Salesforce1 capabilities, Pega7 amplifying BPM, SAP Fiori enabling SAP HCP are some of the digital affinity themes of MADPs.

Opening up enterprises, integrating via public clouds, caching core business information models in cloud based services, allowing a wide variety of customer inclined channels to perform business tasks puts heavy pressure on enterprises to provide end to end security. Device side biometrics, voice, face all will play significant roles in  access security. Context aware security by using the customer presence in an app context adds a significant security dimension. Omnichannel security strategy connecting all the different schemes together become a stronger approach in safeguarding enterprise assets. Hardening SSO approaches enables experience strategies coexist with security approaches.

The success of a digital transformation is heavily dependent on “the making”. Establishing agile devops as the first step enables discipline to the chaos by providing control in all the stages of ideation, development, validation and deployment. Connecting all the stakeholders and systems together under one automation scheme with defined KPIs at gates form the core of devops enabled digital transformations.

Digital Platforms like MADPs are clearly a viable integrated approach towards realizing transformation journeys. The benefit of leveraging these technologies as a part or as whole enables various levels of adoptions. However,  based on the business transformation needs;  key analysis, fitment, piloting is essential to the success of the programmes.

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