Mobile technology is without a doubt the fastest moving industry out there. As fast as analysts define a new category of products, so they are outdated. However, recent research shows that user experience and the user interface (UI) are the most important elements in the success of an enterprise app. With the ongoing rumours that Apple is going to take a breather with iOS 9 and focus on improving stability, squashing bugs and optimising the core user experience, this really highlighted to me the importance of producing a stable app, one that is capable of being updated quickly and easily, and one that can survive longer-term.
Right now legacy code is being created at a rate never before seen in the history of IT. Think about it - many organisations today are hyper-focused on mobile application development. Yesterday, the focus was web application development, and tomorrow the focus looks to be wearables.
The thing is, it is so tempting for the enterprise to jump on the bandwagon of MADP, RMAD, aPaaS, or whatever else happens to be the latest trend without thinking about how their app might fare after its initial release. I believe enterprises need to adopt a longer-term approach whereby enterprises prepare for the future and invest in products that enable adaptability. In other words, they need to plan for the app of the future instead of the app of today.
A more sustained approach is to take a step back and consider your overall development strategy in an effort to future-proof your application development and delivery processes. What is your ultimate development objective? Put another way, what is the common thread between all these different acronyms? The answer is to get the right applications out as fast as possible.
This objective necessitates a low- or no-code approach to application development. You need a platform that allows you to develop apps in the abstract, handling the low-level technology required to produce these apps correctly. This abstraction creates stability because you are no longer required to keep your staff trained on frequently changing development frameworks.
But you don’t want to just be able to code applications quickly today. You need technology that enables your organisation to pursue projects in a way that will still matter in 12 months. Your users are also going to expect that these apps work on whatever device they happen to point at it.
In essence, we’re talking about Rapid Application Delivery (RAD). However, these products are only effective in so far as they enable your organisation to create future-proof apps – with “code” that can be reused with each new device or approach. It used to be that RAD stood for Rapid Application Development but the change to ‘delivery’ is reflective of the fact that it is no longer interesting to simply speed the development process along. You have to marry that significantly streamlined approach to development with something that is going to manage the entire application lifecycle. From creation, through deployment, onto management, and back again with required changes – because we are running laps, not racing to some fictitious finish line.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) also has its place here, but probably not in the way you think. PaaS is simply the delivery mechanism for getting RAD functionality without the heavy investments. You get the rapid development and delivery capabilities you need, whether you’re building mobile apps, web apps or wearable apps.
As you evaluate the landscape of application development tools look for those that allow you to plan for the future. You can’t afford to invest in every tool that comes along, you need a solution that has a track record of helping organisations deliver the right applications quickly over a period of time. Above all you need those that will enable you to build and deliver the apps of tomorrow.
By Zahid Jiwa, VP UK & Ireland at OutSystems.
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