The story of a student in a garage writing an app to produce farts and become a best seller on the AppStore is almost a legend. The truth is that it only takes a couple hundred hours from a sharp programmer to design and build an app to encapsulate certain features in ¼ of VGA screen, is not more complicated than mastering good looking web pages calling a few web services. Even further, one can hire an Indian boutique, send a few drawings in a napkin and for about 35K get a professional MicroApp ready for approval by Apple.
It is so simple to build apps that the AppStore already published 75 thousand apps. But when it comes to IT things are very different, a lot more different and dramatically more expensive. Picture the following 7 steps and barriers to overcome:
Prepare to have a lengthy and unproductive conversation with the It architects to define the proper middleware to support backed interaction with your little app. In most large enterprises the process may end with an RFI followed with an RFP to select the right technology. If you really want to succeed find a powerful sponsor a run a pilot away for the IT governance and control.
Get ready to find out that your little inoffensive app is a treat to corporate security. This is a discussion you most likely will lose unless you have a white hat hacker behind, to help you argue. There is no shortcut to overcome security concerns, you have to reassure comparable security to e-commerce practices and make sure risk management experts understand that the exposure on MicroApps is really “micro”.
Plan for involving people that can help you guarantee SOX compliance and can help you asses the implications of tracking and tracing transactions and corporate content been spread on employees Smartphone’s.
At this point the discussions to get servers, hosting, and all the necessary licensing, will make you feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Find time from IT resources to help you identify sources and define points of interaction with back-office systems, and make sure you get a boutique consulting firm to crack the code because Accenture may not understand what are you talking about or pass on the project because there is too little budget involve.
The hard part comes at the time you add-up all costs to determine CAPEX and OPEX and discover the real TCO of your tiny little app.
It gets really ugly when you try to justify an ROI and if you succeed you still have to fight to get a priority boarding pass into execution and out of the bulky portfolio of IT projects.
Now please remind me what was the application about? … Oh yes purchase approvals. Ok lets not get too negative, lets say that you manage to convince IT that is strategic to explore the idea of using your employees Smartphone to enable then with actionable data. Lets say that you succeed and run a smooth pilot.
Chances are that your picture gets published on the intranet and you get a bonus. But get ready for the real challenge that will come after people see the recently untapped value of approvals on the go.
Dozens of approval processes will find a way to your desk. After your begin to reach adoption beyond the corporate paid phones you will discover that you can not enforce iPhones to all people unless you pay the bills. Soon you will need to support RIM, Nokia and Android or Windows Mobile or Palm. Then if your company operates in multiple countries you will discover that approvals are not a standard process forcing you to have multiple versions in multiple languages. And if you are really successful a whole new category of problems will arise to face scalability and high availability.
This is why Mobile Enterprise is an expensive idea. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases millions to enable people on the go. The complexity associated with Mobile Enterprise has allowed an entire software category to exist.
The concept is very simple, powerful and the approach innovative. When an information worker needs actionable data it doesn’t mean access to an entire system, often it is just apiece of information with context, so they can do their jobs more efficiently. This is what people call a micro application, a few transactions to perform particular tasks, which take part of a larger process, all encapsulated within a User Interface designed explicitly for its purpose.
Apple changed the rules and is about time that we change the model and learn from what happened to consumers.
A new approach to Mobile enterprise, simple and affordable is a must.