Apps, APIs & Analytics: What "Mobile First" Really Means


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BYOD for tablets and smartphones represents only the first shock of the mobile explosion. There is an even larger change coming, one defined by greater (not less) heterogeneity in device and OS, combined with myriad of new data sources. Driving all of it is a demand for ever-richer user experiences - a new kind of "experience economy", where the winners are those companies that deliver the most compelling experiences to the user's device of choice. In this presentation to the Washington Area CTO Roundtable, Appcelerator co-founder and CTO Nolan Wright investigates what these changes mean to the ways we build apps, connect them to public and enterprise data, and measure the results - as well as what it all suggests for the future of enterprise IT.

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  • Of the world’s seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones. Only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines.
  • Let’s startby touching on a reality many of our enterprise IT customers are facing. If you go back only a few years, you remember that IT (perhaps in conjunction with one or two major outsource players) was the only game in town when it came to providing technology to the enterprise. Whether by design or accident, we ran something like a centrally planned economy: a big budget, almost total ownership of all production, and with products that were certainly industrial strength if not always the most elegant or beautiful thing to look at. The chief aim was stability: get the applications built, stood up, running, and see that they don’t fall over. If you were a line of business customer, you knew that all technology requests went to IT, we in IT would do our best to get to it as soon as we could (it was almost never immediately), and there really wasn’t much other choice.When cloud and mobility exploded, something happened. And when I say “cloud and mobility” I mean it as an umbrella phrase for things like BYOD, consumerization, and the like. Essentially, folks all over the enterprise started brining in the technology they liked. They didn’t have to go through IT – they could download it from an app store or rent it over the web. Moreover, the user experience of many of these things was so much better they didn’t want to go to IT. Essentially, mobility changed the game entirely. Instead of large applications packed with features and prized for their stability that took months and months to deliver, the lines of business needed smart, purpose-built apps that could run on all kinds of new devices and be delivered and updated in matters of weeks. And so we have what many enterprises confront today: a kind of free-for-all approach many lines of business say to themselves: ‘IT doesn’t get it, they’re optimized for an old world, and for me to get the kind of mobile innovation that’s going to define our future, I need to do it myself.”
  • Now, if we apply a technology lens to this shift, we learn some interesting things. When we first started building applications back in the client/server days, we were talking one device – the PC – and mainly one backend system, which lived inside the enterprise and that we connected to via LAN/WAN. Pretty simple (at least on paper).When the internet cropped up, the primary change was to the connection point and the backend. We had more enterprise systems to contend with, and the idea was that we’d thin out the client side, replacing it with a browser, and let the backend do all the work. Of course this meant we needed better ways to connect the two than point-to-point, so we saw the rise of middleware. Interestingly, I’d argue that in this period we actually took something of a step backward in terms of user experience. We lost most of the client-side logic, and so the UX became a flatter, more static thing. But regardless, we were still using only a single, dominant device and OS – the Wintel PC – with some comparatively minor differences among the web browsers that ran inside.Well, the mobile world really blows all this up. And it blows up every front: we’re now contending with a range of backend systems – enterprise, SaaS, social, even rising things like “quantified self” (FitBit, etc) that track what we do and tell us how to improve. But we’re also confronting a new and expanding range on the client or device side – PCs, tablets and phones, yes, and soon enough wearables and the like. And really driving all of this is a demand – an expectation – for premium user experiences. Flat form web pages won’t cut it anymore. If I’m a user – customer, partner, employee, doesn’t matter – I expect smart, pleasing apps that run anywhere at anytime on my device of choice.
  • If we return to this mobile landscape of many devices on one hand and many data sources on the other, and imperative to connect them in a way that’s seamless and elegant and delivers a great user experience, we see three necessities emerge.First, you’ve clearly got to have the means to create superior apps that will deliver the best possible experience and do it across a range of devices and OSs (no more Wintel monopoly). In the ideal world this means being able to reuse code vs. creating dedicated code bases per device or OS, and it means being able to leverage widely-available developer skills vs. having to find and recruit a bunch of new, narrowly specialized and expensive experts.Second, you need true, mobile-optimized APIs that provide open access to all the necessary data sources. Now, this is different from the legacy days of middleware and SOAP protocols, because of course these mobile devices have a different form factor, they display less data in one go and so require a different payload, they may lose connection and need to work offline and then sync when they reconnect, and so on. Finally, given the imperative around great user experience, you need proper, real-time analytics that tell you at a glance how it’s all working: are the apps being used the way we hoped? Are they crashing or throwing exceptions? What’s our service usage like? How’s our own efficiency in building and delivering new app capabilities? And so on.
  • 804 survey participants worldwide.
  • This is the second-highest ranked investment priority, behind only app automated testing (at 46%).
  • Before we dig into what these changes require of enterprise IT teams and how Appcelerator can help, I want to pause and get a sense of where you all are in your mobile journey. We’ve built a mobile maturity model that roughly reflects what we’ve seen, not only among our customers but in our own R&D efforts and product journey…
  • We started by looking at the new pressures on and changing nature of IT, so I owe it to you to circle back. Given how mobility is shaping the new enterprise and what Appcelerator brings to the table, what might a future state for enterprise IT look like?For starters, I don’t think the answer is simply a return to the world of old, where IT did everything. I don’t think the lines of business want that, and I don’t think you want that. We actually envision something else – call it an “innovation exchange.” In this world, IT gets to focus on doing a few things really, really well and works to empower and broker a broader ecosystem of contributors. How might this work? For one thing, having a collection of open, mobile-optimized APIs means that other participants, even external developers, could create innovations around enterprise systems and capabilities. In this model, IT becomes the enabler even of accessing new markets that the business may not have touched. (We do exactly this with our Platform and the Open Mobile Marketplace.) And one of the chief ways you monitor the effectiveness of this exchange is through analytics. Very similar to a stock exchange, you use metrics to evaluate who’s performing and who’s falling short, and you publish these to the enterprise so departments can make their own decisions about where the next app capability should come from.This may sound a little far reaching, but we don’t think it’s utopian. You can get there, and we can help.
  • Apps, APIs & Analytics: What "Mobile First" Really Means

    1. 1. Apps, APIs & Analytics: What “Mobile First” Really Means NOLAN WRIGHT, CO-FOUNDER & CTO appcelerator@twitter
    2. 2. Mobile phones are now more ubiquitous than indoor plumbing. “DEPUTY UN CHIEF CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION TO TACKLE GLOBAL SANITATION CRISIS." UN NEWS CENTER. UN, 21 MAR. 2013
    3. 3. The Emerging IT World? PAST: PRESENT: “PLANNED ECONOMY” “FREE-FOR-ALL” Centrally planned, centrally sourced One size fits all „Bread lines‟ Product = Industrial strength Product < > Inspiring Nominal central control BYOD/A, rise of shadow IT Silos, inevitable redundancies Variable results (usability, security, performance, etc.)
    4. 4. Major Technology Shifts 1990s TO TODAY CLIENT SERVER Early 1990s One-to-one Rich UX (GUI) Distributed computing Local Network INTERNET Late 1990s One-to-many Weak UX (HTML-Based) Server-centric computing Global network MOBILE Today Many-to-many Rich UX (driven by mobile OSs) Distributed computing Internet of Things
    5. 5. Needs for Mobile Success Performance metrics Usage patterns Adoption rates Lifecycle efficacy Great experience across platforms Maximum reuse Flex sourcing of skills Optimized payloads Online/offline sync Elastic scale Secure access
    6. 6. Hard truth #1: The user is king. The explosion that killed the PC User chooses the app, not you. Expectation is for smart, purposeful, contextaware experiences. (Forget “user error” jokes.) R.I.P. Wintel. 88% of enterprises agree B2B/E require the same caliber UX as B2C.1 Hard truth #2: Release velocity is (largely) beyond enterprise control. Users want what they want, when they want it. Apple wants what it wants, when it wants it. The other platform vendors aren‟t sitting still. Hard truth #3: HTML 5 can‟t save us. 30% feature differential across browsers.2 62% 1Q3 of enterprises support three or more mobile operating systems.1 2013 Appcelerator Enterprise Mobile Survey Access to a small fraction of the native APIs. Not a priority for the platform providers (see e.g. iOS 7). 2"BII REPORT: Why Facebook Defriended HTML5-For Now." Business Insider. N.p., 24 Oct. 2012.
    7. 7. Why legacy middleware won‟t cut it: WEB XML, SOAP JSON Data payload Large and static, optimized for PC display and feature-driven applications Niche and orchestrated, optimized for small screen and purpose-built apps Number of data sources Few Many Data source location Behind the firewall Behind the firewall, SaaS virtual private clouds, public cloud Client device profile Data, data everywhere MOBILE Powerful device with few constraints (e.g. large battery), stationary access Battery- and bandwidthconstrained (by network and/or fees), roaming Client-to-data connectivity Steady, broadband Intermittent & variable speed, driving need for online/offline syncing and rate limiting Usage profile More predictable peak hours (i.e., 9-to-5, 8-to-10) Anywhere, anytime access API format And not a drop to drink? 40% rank mobileoptimized APIs as their top investment priority.1 Mobile is driving another tier into enterprise architectures. 1Q3 2013 Appcelerator Enterprise Mobile Survey
    8. 8. The lifeblood of great user experience A move from lagging to leading indicators. ⅓ 1Q3 report their apps fail to meet the needs of end users.1 2013 Appcelerator Enterprise Mobile Survey
    9. 9. IT Mobile Maturity Model PROACTIVE EXPERIMENTAL REACTIVE LEARN MITIGATE RISK IT & LoBs pursue own ends Little or no success metrics < 5 apps, primarily B2C 3rd party sourcing Legacy “application” thinking: design, tools, processes Some IT & LoB coordination (e.g. security) “ROI aware”: lagging success measures (e.g. public reviews), ad hoc outcomes 5-10 apps, B2C and some B2E, limited platforms 3rd party sourcing for B2C, in-house for B2E Legacy “application” thinking: design, tools, processes TACTICAL STRATEGIC OPTIMIZE SPEED, COST AND EXPERIENCE DIFFERENTIATE, OPEN NEW MARKETS Shared services, CoE experiments “ROI expectant”: leading indicators for success Upwards of 30 apps, B2x, all major platforms 3rd party sourcing where necessary (exception) App-oriented design, tooling, processes “Innovation Exchange” “ROI ensured”: unified analytics: experience, adoption, diagnostics, etc. No limits to scale (number of apps, device & platform type, etc.) Sourcing ecosystem: vetted, best-of-breed contributors (internal or external) Continuous mobile innovation STRATEGIC
    10. 10. Mobile Drives a New IT Innovation Model PRESENT: FUTURE: “FREE-FOR-ALL” “INNOVATION EXCHANGE” Nominal central control LoBs go it alone Variable results (usability, security, performance, etc.) Inevitable redundancies Nimble and specialized, fit for purpose Looser coupling, higher cohesion Expanded ecosystem = more innovation New market opportunities
    11. 11. FOR MORE: THANK YOU.