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Here at the Wavefront Wireless Summits in Vancouver this week there is a ton of buzz about what will come this year and in the next 12 to 18 months. Today we discussed machine to machine (M2M) at great length and tomorrow will bring deeper conversations about partner ecosystems and enablement. I am gearing up for my session in the Business Summit about Out of the Office Productivity and am cramming the predictions from analysts, influencers, and more.

Many industry watchers who pay close attention to everything mobile have made their predictions about what 2013 will bring enterprise mobility. I’d like to pile on with one more – 2013 will most definitely be the year of the mobile app. That, in fact, is a safe prediction, and I am not the only one who has made it. A recent article at RCRWireless (“2013 Predictions: The year of the mobile enterprise app”) agrees. This article makes the prediction and offers some advice about what it means. However the article does not say why 2013 will be a good year for mobile apps. I’d like to dig into the reasoning behind my prediction.

2013 is seeing a confluence of several large technology and market forces that are completely altering the traditional thinking about mobile apps and mobile app development. Here are the key realities of mobility in 2013:

  • The cost of building enterprise-grade apps is plummeting. The leading mobile app development platforms offer a containerized app development strategy that allows developers to use the development languages and app development frameworks of their choice to build cross-platform mobile apps. These development platforms also support widget libraries that save reusable code. Some support interactive data visualization tools developers can incorporate into any app, and some also support pre-built hooks to back-end corporate data.
    All of these capabilities drastically reduce the time it takes to build feature-rich enterprise apps, and they also reduce the degree of specialty
    required to develop apps that will run on any mobile device. Reducing development time and opening mobile app development to a broader group of developers and service providers significantly reduces the cost of developing enterprise apps, and that reduces the threshold needed to justify developing a mobile app.
  • Mobile security is a reality. Many businesses are rightfully concerned about proprietary and confidential information appearing on mobile devices. However several developments have made it possible to create highly secure mobile computing environments. These include end-to-end data encryption, enterprise grade authentication for accessing back-end data that is compatible with corporate authentication systems, total segregation and encryption of business data on dual-use devices so no business data is accessible to any process happening on the “personal use” side of the device, and the use of cloud-based virtual desktop strategies to completely eliminate sensitive data
    from the mobile device.
  • Total integration with existing corporate data systems. By combining development platform features such as data visualization and hooks to back-end databases with security features like single sign-on authentication, it becomes possible to easily build mobile apps that securely integrate with server and cloud based corporate software systems.
  • Average employee now carries 3.5 mobile devices according to some analysts, and over half of workers now carry tablets. The workers are armed and ready to run whatever mobile apps they need to become more productive within the larger corporate workflow.

These factors constitute a “perfect storm” of conditions for prolific enterprise app development. How will you know its happening? You will know that mobile app proliferation has begun when mobile apps on the devices you carry become such a routine part of the work you do every day that you take them for granted, and when the same becomes true of your coworkers and colleagues. Just look around you and see how much time you and your colleagues spend on your mobile devices now. That’s why I said at the beginning of this blog that my prediction is a safe one.

Now it’s time for me to finish my presentation and get ready some rest before meetings with technology solution providers and global business leaders that want to accelerate ideas and market opportunities with mobile.

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