Tag Archives: Sencha

Enterprise Mobility is No Game

EA games (Electronic Arts, Inc.) recently released Plants vs. Zombies 2. Plants vs. Zombies has to be one of my favorite games to play on my mobile device. For those of you that don’t know, Plants vs Zombies is what’s known as a tower defense game. The object is to eliminate enemies as they attempt to cross a map. This is done by strategically placing artillery, mines, walls, etc. in the path of the approaching enemy. In the case of Plants vs. Zombies, instead of artillery, players place objects like pea-shooting plants to defeat zombies as they try to reach your house and eat your brains.

 
This follow-up to the extremely popular first version achieved over 16 million downloads in less than a week. However, there is one catch—it’s only available on iOS. For those of us on the Android platform, which by the way has almost 80% of the global mobile market share, we are out of luck. And with no Android release date in sight, non-iOS users are left in the lurch (bad zombie pun intended).

There are definitely financial reasons for this approach with consumer apps. For example, iOS users spend more money on apps and in-app purchases. Also, many organizations are allowing consumerization practices to influence business methodology and decision making. However, this single OS approach to app development should, categorically, not be followed by the enterprise.

Enterprise app development must take a very broad device approach. In the world of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) there is no guarantee what devices employees will show up to work with. In order to achieve the most return on your mobile investment you should aim to support the most number of users. The allure of the simplicity and controlled nature of devices’ homogeneity is a limited strategic approach. The popular device of today will be replaced by the next cool device of tomorrow. This will lead to a never-ending cycle of playing catch-up that will be cost prohibitive.

Enterprises need to anticipate supporting the vast array of ever-changing devices on the market. Combine BYOD with the notion of the Internet of Things, and enterprises have even stronger justification for a diverse mobile approach. Anything short of a heterogeneous approach to mobile devices, apps, data, and management will paint your mobile strategy into a digital corner where you will be stuck waiting for the paint to dry.

When it comes to mobile app development, how can businesses overcome and address an ever-expanding ecosystem of device proliferation? There are platforms available for developers that do a decent job of bridging the gap between the different mobile operating systems. Platforms such as PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Sencha allow developers to write the application in a single language that then compiles to a native app. There are some drawbacks to this approach. As much as we love the development process to be write once, use many times, cross-platform development tools still require some tweaking per OS. However, these platforms will get you 95% of the way there.

Your device management strategy needs to be heterogeneous as well. While Samsung and the upcoming iOS 7 release will offer device management and enterprise services, a single platform approach to managing devices is a step in the wrong direction. This convenience of built-in services that are vendor-based is greatly outweighed by the need to have an enterprise mobility management strategy that is flexible for the future. Organizations would be better served to explore one of the many mobile management solutions available to support a wide variety of devices, have app management, and ultimately provide information management.

As hardware diversity increases, organizations need to not only display data on various devices, but also collect data from an ever-increasing range of devices. This could include IT infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, and even display cases. The cost of embedding Internet connectivity is approaching negligible. With this hurdle removed, the matrix of connected devices in an organization is only going to grow. Is your organization prepared for this sort of dynamic addition of mobility? Are you thinking A to Z or just Apple and Android?

The consumerization of IT does not have to mean that the enterprise takes every aspect of the consumer approach and translates it directly into a business strategy. Enterprises that approach BYOD as BY-iOS-D will find they have a left-out and frustrated user base alongside an inferior position for the future. Like tower defense games such as Plants vs. Zombies, organizations need a broad heterogeneous strategy to anticipate and manage the onslaught of mobility. The inability to predict new devices and methods of connectivity necessitates this approach. There is and will be no single dominant mobile end point. Why play like there is?

 
Benjamin Robbins is a co-founder at Palador, a mobile consultancy located in Seattle, WA. He can be followed on Twitter @PaladorBenjamin.

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SAP Mobile – Breaking the Mold

Changing company culture in a large enterprise is a tall order. Once a mindset has congealed, it becomes very difficult to get people un-stuck from a certain way of thinking. However, when it comes to mobility, SAP is turning the ship around. David Brutman, Senior Director of Developer Relations at SAP, shared with me this week just how SAP is making huge strides in rooting out big, lumbering enterprise thinking with their approach to mobility.

There are a few key areas where SAP is making a significant shift in lowering the barrier to entry for enterprise app developers. Brutman stated that, “We’re introducing a new free developer license that is unlimited in time with full development capabilities.” He further explained, “We had a 30 day free trial but we are elevating that significantly by removing any time restriction.” This free license will provide developers unfamiliar with the SAP mobile platform a chance to develop against it without monetary commitment. Developers can then publish apps to their platform of choice.

Besides the free developer license, SAP is providing additional support for development integration with the leading mobile software development frameworks.  Brutman told me, “Another component I’m especially excited about is the partnership with Sencha Touch, Adobe PhoneGap, and Appcellerator Titanium.” Those frameworks are quickly becoming the de facto development mobile platforms because of their ability to develop one code-base that works across multiple different platforms. As Brutman put it, “SAP wants to take advantage of those platforms, with their ability to create beautiful UIs [user interfaces] and merge it with SAP capabilities in secure and managed way.” Those development platforms make perfect sense for enterprise mobile requirements and SAP is taking full advantage of that fact.

Historically, SAP has maintained a complex partnering process that all but excluded smaller development shops. This focus on opening the platform to the masses represents a major shift in partner thinking for SAP. As Brutman explained, “Typically we worked with larger companies and larger partners. Engagement was high-touch.” That kind of thinking represents the classical method of large enterprise engagement that SAP is moving away from. “Now we are accelerating the [partner] program to be able to scale. We want the ability to support a large number of developers. Those developers don’t have experience with SAP applications and they want to enter the enterprise space.”  This is a win-win situation, as developers get to create solutions and SAP expands their mobile capabilities.

My conversation with Brutman only further confirms that SAP gets mobile. They get that success in this space requires solutions that are simple, play well with others, and fit into a bigger picture. They are positioning themselves to take advantage of the milieu of open platforms and integrated ecosystems. It is amazing to see such a large organization have such sustained commitment to change in the right direction. The change isn’t going to happen overnight and isn’t going to be without some bumps in the road. However, I foresee that this commitment will allow them to prosper well into the future.

For information on the announcement from SAP visit:

http://www.news-sap.com/new-mobile-developer-programs-from-sap-provide-open-access-for-developers-to-build-b2b-and-b2c-apps/

 

Benjamin Robbins is a Principal at Palador, a consulting firm that focuses on providing strategic guidance to enterprises in the areas of mobile strategy, policy, apps, and data. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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Filed under Apps, Ecosystem, Future, Mobile