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What Every IT Manager Should Know About Mobile Apps


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In a few short years, the use of smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. Vibrant app ecosystems have and will continue to play an important role in encouraging rapid innovation, ensuring these devices will remain computing platform of choice for end users in the foreseeable future. The rapid adoption of mobile technology in the enterprise presents many important decision points to IT management. For example, native apps vs web apps, in-house app development vs outsourced, which platforms to support, what policies will be needed, mobile backend hosting platforms, security considerations and many more. These decisions, as is typically the case, involve tradeoffs, and the appropriate approach will vary based on each organization's individual business needs. However, an informed and thoughtful approach will help IT organizations extract value out of this fundamentally new approach to computing. This talk aims to help the IT practitioner appreciate and successfully navigate the labyrinth of decisions involved in moving the enterprise out onto these pervasive new mobile platforms.

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What Every IT Manager Should Know About Mobile Apps

  1. 1. WHAT EVERY IT MANAGERSHOULD KNOW ABOUTMOBILE APPSJonathan R. Engelsma, Ph.D.GrandValley State UniversitySchool of Computing
  2. 2. PADNOS COLLEGE OFENGINEERING & COMPUTING• PCEC consists of:• School of Computing• School of Engineering• 1530 students total• Undergraduate andGraduate degree programs.2
  3. 3. CIS UNDERGRAD PROGRAMS• ABET Accredited• Undergraduate Programs:• Computer Science• Information Systems• 550 Students• ~ 40 CS graduates annually• ~ 40-50 IS graduates annually3
  4. 4. CIS GRADUATE PROGRAMS• Graduate Programs• Computer InformationSystems• Medical & Bio-Informatics• ~ 80 students total• ~30 MS graduates annually4
  5. 5. MOBILE APPS & SERVICES LAB• A multidisciplinary/collaborativeinitiative hosted by the GVSUSchool of Computing• Provides an environment thatfacilitates learning and discovery inthe area of mobile technology.• Emphasis on collaboration and“application research”.More Info: http://masl.cis.gvsu.edu5
  6. 6. TOPICS• Overview / Motivation• The native vs. web app question• In-house vs. out-sourced development• Hosting your mobile backend• Engaging your audience6
  7. 7. MOBILE IS HUGE!•Trillion $$ Industries•automotive•food / clothing•construction•banking•armaments•mobileSource:
  8. 8. HOW BIG IS MOBILE?•7B people on planet Earth•4.2B people brush their teeth•1.6BTelevision sets in use•1.2B PCs in use•1B automobiles registered and in operation•> 6.8B mobile subscribers on planet Earth!!Source:
  9. 9. HOW BIG IS MOBILE?•Skype: 124M monthly users (34% of international calls)•Twitter Users: 550M (as of 5/2013)•Facebook Users: 1.1B (as of 5/2013)•4.2B people are active SMS users.Source:
  12. 12. The Present Reality: Smart Phones and tablets arerapidly becoming the primary terminal device end usersinteract with, whether they be at work or play.12
  13. 13. TOPICS• Overview / Motivation• The native vs. web app question• In-house vs. out-sourced development• Hosting your mobile backend• Engaging your audience13
  14. 14. NATIVEVS.WEB?• Web App Advantages• one app runs everywhere• easier to develop• Web App Disadvantages• inferior UI• performs poorly offline• discoverability14
  15. 15. NATIVEVS.WEB?• Native App Advantages• Superior UI• Preferred distribution model• Remains reasonably functionaloffline offline• Native App Disadvantages• Need to implement/maintainseparately on each platform.15
  16. 16. "The biggest mistake we made as a company was bettingtoo much on HTML5 as opposed to native, it just wasntready."- Mark Zuckerberg, September 201216
  17. 17. Source:
  18. 18. APP DEVELOPMENT LANDSCAPENativeAppsMobile WebApps“Hybrid”AppsAndroid SDKiOS / xCodeVisual StudioWinPhoneHTML5CSSJavascriptSenchaTouchjQuery MobileNimbleKitTitanium MobileRhodesWeb app targetinghandheld devicesFramework thatgenerates nativecode and/or useswebviews in native.Apps written for thenative platform.PhoneGap
  19. 19. GO NATIVE OR NOT??• Gartner’s “Rule ofThree”: use Mobile EnterpriseApplication Platform (MEAP) when:• there are 3 or more mobile applications• there are 3 or more targeted operating systems orplatforms• they involve the integration of 3 or more back-endsystems
  20. 20. SOME GUIDELINES• Economics are important, but be user centric (as budgetallows):• If possible, go native for consumer or customer facingapps• Hybrid / Web approach should be considered when youhave a “captive audience”, e.g. employee-only app.• Web vs. Hybrid: “app store” distribution is most familiarto end users today.
  21. 21. TOPICS• Overview / Motivation• The native vs. web app question• In-house vs. out-sourced development• Hosting your mobile backend• Engaging your audience21
  22. 22. IN-HOUSE APP DEVELOPMENT• Developing apps in-house: What you’ll need...• Time:All of the native platform SDK’sinvolve a considerable learning curve. (Est.3+ months to become productive)• Money: Savvy iOS/Android developersare earning six digit salaries a year or twoout of college.• Strategy:Are your organization’s mobileapps to strategically important to leave toothers?22
  23. 23. TOPICS• Overview / Motivation• The native vs. web app question• In-house vs. out-sourced development• Hosting your mobile backend• Engaging your audience23
  24. 24. MOBILE BACKEND HOSTING• Behind every interesting mobile app...• a non-trivial set of database backed network-based services• scaling agility• could utilize your organization’s existing web infrastructure24
  25. 25. A NEW FORM OF CLOUDCOMPUTING....• IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and now MBaaS: Mobile Backend as a Service• Leading contenders:••••• Google AppEngine (w/ client frameworks)Cloud25
  26. 26. MBAAS: HOW IT WORKS• MBaaS Concept:• App agnostic cloud-based backendplatform.• Easy to program client side SDKs.• Zero server-side programming required!26
  27. 27. MBAASTRADEOFFS• MBaaS Advantages• Minimal effort mobile backend• All the typical benefits of cloud-based solutions.• MBaaS Disadvantages• Challenges integrating with existingbackends.• Entrusting a third party with yourdata.27
  28. 28. TOPICS• Overview / Motivation• The native vs. web app question• In-house vs. out-sourced development• Hosting your mobile backend• Engaging your audience28
  29. 29. THERE’S AN APP FORTHAT...Source:
  30. 30. THERE’S AN APP FORTHAT...Attracting and sustaining user engagement is becomingincreasingly difficult endeavor!30
  32. 32. MOBILE GAMIFICATIONgamification:definition: the use of game thinking andgame mechanics in a non-game contextin order to engage users and solveproblemsSource: http://www.wikipedia.orgGamification is one technique being used to encouragesustained engagement.32
  33. 33. GAMIFICATION EXAMPLE• How do you get peopleto annotate useful infowhile on the road?• Waze:“social gps” turnsit into a game withpoints/leaderboards.33
  34. 34. SUMMARY• The mobile revolution is BIG, and is having a significant impacton how/when enterprise users access IT systems/services.• Web vs. Native apps = “it depends”• In-house app development involves a substantial commitment.• End mobile users have a lot of options. Sustained end userengagement requires more effort and different approachesthan traditional front-end systems.34
  35. 35. THANKYOU!!• A copy of this presentation is available•• Email:• Twitter: @batwingd• Web: