Adventures in BYOD
By Tim Kridel for Digital Innovation Gazette
More than half of European and U.S. enterprises allow employees to “bring your own device” (BYOD) rather than issuing everyone the same brand of smartphone or tablet, according to a Current Analysis survey. As that amount grows, so do the challenges and opportunities for app developers.
Before BYOD, developing for BlackBerry was the surest way to target the enterprise market. Now a successful enterprise app must support Android and iOS, too. Meanwhile, different enterprises have varying policies and device-management tools for issues such as partitioning personal and business apps, and minimizing security risks.
We recently spoke with Charlotte Dunlap, Current Analysis senior analyst, about how the BYOD trend is playing out.
How are enterprises accommodating BYOD from a development perspective?
Charlotte Dunlap: It’s pretty amazing because the mobile app development market is still so new, so it’s a very grassroots effort, meaning the great majority of enterprises continue to use home-grown mobile app enterprise platforms (MEAP) to build and deploy mobile apps. Those companies that don’t have in-house expertise hire outside contractors for their mobile app development. This is largely because traditional middleware providers have been late to market with MEAP offerings and thought leadership around mobile strategies.
So these developers are tackling one project at a time and getting a fair amount of hand-holding through developer community groups and MEAP providers in tackling initial application projects. I see mobile adoption happening through a bottom-up approach, where developers bring mobile technology inside their companies to support mobile projects versus mobile solutions being decided by CIOs and operations managers.
What commercial MEAPs are becoming available to developers?
C.D.: Pure-play MEAP vendors -- Kony, Antenna, Appcelerator, etc. -- have primarily addressed BYOD through integrated development environments (IDEs) that make it easy to connect backend systems with mobile devices, as well as HTML5 support to address platform fragmentation, and basic security and management capabilities.
In the near future, we’ll be seeing a number of solutions rolling out similar to IBM’s Mobile Foundation update, announced November 9, by larger application platform providers, which will specifically address the BYOD trend through platform solutions that will include endpoint security, cloud integration and lifecycle management capabilities. These comprehensive solutions will help reduce adoption barriers such as security concerns and app development complexities.
What’s keeping enterprises from adopting mobile strategies and developing mobile apps?
C.D.: Businesses have been polarized by too many hurdles following BYOD’s effect on everything from mobile app development to mobile device management to the use of managed mobility services. Developing a mobile strategy that includes support for platform fragmentation in which developers have to write applications for more than one mobile device, as well as provide ongoing management and updates to mobile applications, is daunting. The HTML5 standard is now integrated into most MEAP solutions, but it’s not the silver bullet for dealing with multi-device app development.
Enterprise users tell us their primary reason for delayed mobile adoption is complexity around MEAP and a lack of help from vendors in defining their mobile strategies. Users also tell us that improved security and ease-of-use around app development are of the upmost importance in mobile adoption.
What are some examples of BYOD in verticals?
C.D.: A number of verticals are showing strong interest in mobile technology that supports the BYOD trend, including healthcare, retail and construction, among others.
Doctors and nurses see obvious benefits of being able to access patient and medical data at any time, any place, on their mobile devices as well as communicate with colleagues. Clearly serious security and device management issues have to be addressed to adhere to HIPAA, which vendors see as an opportunity to provide comprehensive solutions that leverage not only their middleware, but advanced management and cloud integration technologies as well.
Mobility promises to empower construction managers in the field who can collect information and turn around bids in 48 hours versus two weeks as a way to increase revenues. And retailers see the use of mobile analytics, geolocation and high-performance in-memory databases as a way to proactively engage with consumers during the purchase process to spur immediate buying opportunities.
Photo: Corbis Images
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