Are Made For Mobile Apps Really Different?

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Mobile Apps Environment

Mobile employees need mobile apps. Mobile apps help field personnel to be more productive and often enable them to generate new revenue streams and improve customer service (and the corporate brand!). However, as companies seek to integrate mobile technologies into their application infrastructures, they are faced with an important choice. Is it more important to use an existing (or new) application that was designed for corporate server infrastructures – or one that is designed expressly for today’s cloud-based, mobile environment?

mobile-feild

For a number of reasons (a few of which I’ll list below), I believe applications that “are made for mobile” are the right choice for companies of any size. Here are the reasons why:

  • Mobile applications communicating with corporate servers are not designed with flexibility in mind. Mobile applications that require always-on functionality or a mixture of online and offline functionality will be hard to implement when the data service sits behind a corporate firewall.

For example: A mobile field service application might make key capabilities like access to and updating of job, customer, task and inventory information always available to a field worker. While personnel in the back office (scheduling, dispatch, management) would find the work/employee scheduler available from any screen.

Field workers record work – office workers plan. Application interfaces should be designed to help them do their work – efficiently!

  • Application widgets in made for mobile applications are not “one size fits all”. Instead, they are implemented differently in each platform – Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, the web – and composed differently within the context of a mobile view or a web page.

If we again use our field service application as an example, a widget that describes a work crew would have its own, separate view. Field workers would have to navigate from the job (work order) view to get there. However, for office workers using a standard web interface, there would be a single web page that contained all job (work order) related widgets – including the crew widget.

Office workers can plan – and schedule – work crews, while field workers “work” the job! Again, the application interface should help the worker to be more productive!

  • Cloud-based applications with an on premise server-based history inherit the functionality – and coding overhead of their past. Made for mobile applications don’t. Simply put, cloud-based made for mobile applications use the latest technologies (dynamically-typed languages like Python on the backend and JavaScript and HTML5 on the frontend in addition to the ever popular JSON data interchange format) to deliver fast application and network performance and simplified, rapid integration with existing business applications. They marry these capabilities to native mobile apps that – as I’ve described above – are designed to help mobile workers perform their jobs more quickly and efficiently.

As a result, both the mobile and cloud-based components of the solution are tuned and optimized for their platforms (cloud/mobile) and their users (office/mobile worker). So are made for mobile applications different – and the right choice for almost any business? If we make that decision based on worker productivity, application performance and ease of integration with existing business applications – the answer is a resounding “YES”.

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