Mobile computing continues to have a tremendous impact on the development landscape. It grows increasingly complex with each new device, platform and development language. Meanwhile, IT organizations are faced with the unenviable task of navigating and making sense of this ever-changing landscape as they strive to keep up with business demands.
In an effort to uncover the technical priorities and challenges that IT organizations face today, OutSystems conducted a joint survey with TechValidate. The survey queried more than 200 IT decision makers at enterprises worldwide about the kinds of enterprise applications they plan to build in 2015. The results, which have mobility as their recurring theme, highlight IT organizations’ attempts to simplify development efforts.
With 2015 well underway, IT decision makers have mobility in their sights. Forty-three percent of respondents rated mobility (mobile apps or sites that are mobile friendly) as the top business functionality or process that is critical for their applications this year. This was nearly three times the next highest selection – integration of disparate systems/data sources.
Further results indicate that enterprises are at different levels of maturity when it comes to integrating mobile in their application strategy, and many have yet to embrace a mobile-first mindset. One-quarter of the respondents reported that 76-100% of the apps they plan to build in 2015 are mobile or will have a mobile component, while 26% reported that 51-75% of their apps are mobile or will have a mobile component.
When it comes to building mobile apps, IT organizations have a choice between three predominant mobile architectures: hybrid, mobile web and native. While native allows developers to fully leverage device features and functionality, hybrid and mobile web enable developers to build one application for use on multiple platforms. This is a benefit for IT organizations that have lengthy development queues and need to satisfy a diverse user base – and survey results indicate that they’re taking advantage of that benefit. The majority of IT organizations report that the mobile architectures they intend to use the most this year are hybrid (65%) and mobile web (60%).
Despite a plethora of packaged and SaaS-based applications available on the market today, the survey shows that many enterprises are continuing to build their own custom applications. The top five enterprise applications that organizations built in 2014 included:
- Process automation (forms, routing);
- Reporting and analytics;
- Document/records management;
- Executive dashboards and scorecards;
The applications that IT organizations plan to build in 2015 match the list above, with one interesting exception: CRM nudges document/records management off the list. With more than a fourth of respondents planning to build their own CRM app in 2015, we can see that enterprises are not getting the features and functionality that they need from commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and cloud solutions. Rather than spend the time to customize a solution that still doesn’t meet business needs, IT organizations find it easier and sometimes faster to build a custom application. This also enables enterprises to keep data in house and therefore more readily addresses governance and security concerns.
Integrating these custom-built applications with existing systems increases the complexity of the application development and delivery processes. The survey asked enterprises to indicate how many cloudbased, packaged on-premise and custom developed systems with which they must integrate when building apps. The majority of survey respondents cited that they only integrate with 1-5 systems of each type. Yet combined, the requirement to integrate becomes a heavy load. It is likely that over time, we’ll see the number of integrations increase rather than decrease.
Increasingly, IT organizations are realizing the benefits of adopting a rapid pplication delivery (RAD) platform to address the challenges associated with application development. Of the IT decision makers surveyed that prefer a RAD platform over traditional application development methods, 77% cited time savings as benefit for using a RAD platform. Other benefits include simplified lifecycle management (app updates, iterations, etc.), increased efficiency and cost savings.
Enterprises also see a marked improvement in the speed of app delivery, application quality and the number of apps delivered when leveraging a RAD platform to build their applications. Forty-four percent of respondents saw at least a six times improvement in the speed of application delivery, while 43% saw at least a six times improvement in the number of applications they deliver and 39% saw at least a six times improvement in application quality. Before using a RAD platform, 21% of respondents were delivering apps in three months or less. Compare that to the percentage of respondents delivering apps in three months or less when using a RAD platform – 77% – and you see a marked improvement.
IT organizations are making a valiant attempt to address mobility and other application needs for their business users. While mobility is a strong focus for 2015, IT organizations are far from adopting a mobile-first mindset. It may be that IT organizations don’t yet feel like they have a solid grasp on mobility and, until they do, it will remain a small proportion of their overall projects. A rapid application delivery platform can help in that regard, as well as deliver a number of other benefits. Going forward, enterprises that recognize the value of a RAD platform will need to choose carefully. Its long-term value will be dependent on its ability to deliver a rich user experience across every device and platform.