First, the days of the million pound MADP (mobile application development platform) are over. Customers want to see solutions with flexible cost models starting at a 250K entry point in Europe (probably double that in the US). They don't want a black box take-it-or-leave-it approach for a million pounds.
Secondly, the virtues of MADPs have been greatly overstated. Customers now realise they can develop their own hybrid mobile applications using powerful yet inexpensive development tools, and they can manage the development themselves or with trusted SI partners.
The MADP business case is dead. However the original MCAP premise of putting the power into the developers' hands for cross-platform apps and combining this with a Mobile Cloud Platform for life cycle management is alive and well today.
Thirdly, the new forms of Mobile Back End as a Service / Mobile First Platform as a Service solutions do not offer cross-platform native apps. They focus on other features and services in the eco-system:
- Life Cycle Management (testing, analytics)
- Developer Services (remote SDK, performance metrics, crash reporting)
- Enterprise Connectors (social, SAP, CRM, CEM)
- Platform as a Service (Node, Google App Engine, Java EE) Service Tier
- First Generation Services (location, service, notifications)
- Second Generation Services (Offline secure data sync; Cloud CMS, Mobile Data Management, Master Data Management).
It is these virtues that need to be categorised, aligned with customer business requirements and explained through educational pieces. These second generation services (provided by MBaaS/Mobile First PaaS/API Platform Mobile Access Gateways) need to be aligned with target customer verticals and such input on roadmaps should be sought from consultancies to make sure they are relevant for at least the next 18 months.
Fourthly, education is just as important as marketing. You cannot sell what people do not understand. Just as the world has caught up with MADPs then the market has moved on. We need to educate the market on these new platforms.
For this reason, new platforms need to show more than just front-end capabilities in demos – because any front end can just be plugged in. Instead they need to show the ability to take out of the box native apps and integrate them into a life cycle management system that empowers them with minimal effort.
It also means that the demos need to show the second generation services like offline secure data sync, mobile data management and Cloud CMS.
If we look at the B2E space alone then the killer app is probably not so much the widely heralded Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but rather it is the new Bring Your Own App (BYOA) and most importantly the desire to manage the proliferation of different apps floating around the company. A Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Private Enterprise App Store alone cannot help tell you which apps are actually useful, to drive software reuse and to force them to use the same mobile data management strategy and consolidated web service access points.
If we also consider the growing role of HTML 5 based Hybrid Apps in the B2E space, then one could easily foresee a time when private HTML 5 Enterprise App Stores are used within a company in order to deploy pure HTML 5 Web Apps but managed through a Mobile Application Manager (App). If we are talking about private App Stores then the constraints that make public App Store acceptance tricky don't apply here.
This strategy can be used to vastly simplify the enterprise wide application eco-system and it does seem a great move for cost cutting and it is something well within the reach of a lot of MBaaS / Mobile First PaaS systems in the next year. Indeed there are already specific platforms and ecosystems that bring this idea to market.
I personally believe the winners of all the MADP/MBaaS/Mobile First PaaS solutions will be the ones that offer the most flexible approaches to a mobile platform, with the customer paying for only the features they actually require, and including a customer-driven roadmap of second generation services targeted to their vertical. Getting the services right the first time for the targeted verticals is really key – data/service/eco-system duplication reduction in life sciences, security in banking, offline capabilities and ease of integration in field force for manufacturing and logistics; secure enterprise integration and workflow management for insurance; Omni-Channel support for retail; content management for media vertical; etc.
I also believe that the money to be made in mobile app development is much smaller than vendors first imagined. The money in mobility is through a tight integration of Cloud, Social and Analytics. Whereas once the mobile guys chased the social and analytics teams to be included now it should be the other way around. The money is lying in Mobile First Enterprise Architecture Transformation and I would say that this lies in the Cloud.
With that said I see the following services as critical:
- Empower native apps with life cycle management capabilities – the easier this can be integrated the better
- Build on top of enterprise connectors to have second generation services – pick the right services for the target verticals and have a community/SI/customer-led approach to driving roadmaps
- Empower HTML 5 with mobile data stored in the Cloud - like Parse
Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.