Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Appsterdam lunchtime lecture summary 2: Appsolute Value

This is part of my summary series of the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures, an initiative to allow people in Appsterdam to talk about technology and share knowledge, allowing participants to receive training in public speaking. The lectures cover a wide range of topics related to making apps on any platform, from technical to non-technical including computer languages, modelling, testing, design, marketing, business philosophy, startups, strategizing, and more.

Today’s lecture was Appsolute Value, by Michael van den Berg.

Appsolute value

Appsolute value is an agency that focuses on multi-platform app development. Michael’s background is in large organisations, so he has seen how these organisations handle the challenges of the rise of mobile. For large organisations, it’s a big disruption of traditional IT - mobile technology is not just another channel.

Michael helps these organisations to develop business apps. In his view, what really changed with the rise of mobile, is the consumer, and what they want. They have more control, know what they want, and how and when they want it. In Michael’s view, the customer is no longer king, he is a dictator. Traditionally, companies have provided information and software in a controlled way, the way which the company thought was best for the customer, but now this is turning around.

Initially, Michael mostly saw companies work on pure mobile websites. This then moved towards native apps, because organisations wanted to be visible on platforms like the App Store. The native apps and mobile websites initially cost business millions - not so much in making the app itself, but in integrating them with their old large IT systems. Michael says it was also very expensive to create a native app for all of iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Although iOS and Android take most of the market, organisations he encounters often want all platforms.

In enterprise apps, BYOD is increasing the pressure on large organisations to allow employees to do their work with apps. To reduce cost, they move towards multiplatform development and hybrid web-native. Especially in the US, Michael sees multiplatform development being really embraced, like PhoneGap. This also dramatically reduces the post-implementation cost in his experience, for maintenance, experience and security.

Michael shows a graph from Forrester, which says that today, much of the effort in mobile is in building the initial applications. However, in a few years Forrester expects a majority of effort to go into re-inventing the business processes and backend systems.

Main requirements in mobile technology are security, performance, multi-OS and integration. In security, it’s important to be able to secure data against both employees and customers. Performance is always high priority for Michael’s clients, and this is where they still see issues with HTML5, but not everyone in the audience agrees and there is some active discussion.

Business process appification

Customers can typically use a whole range of apps, and will slowly move more from the web to using apps. Michael challenges use to think of how enterprises can use our apps. He uses the example of iKringloop, which sold their app to the city of Amsterdam. If we can make the lifes of employees of enterprises better, the enterprises might be interested in our app. People in organisations often simply don’t know how mobile can help them, until it is shown to them.