Today’s apps have become standalone entities, not designed to integrate or interface with other enterprise functions. Only apps that are agile have a hope of keeping up with the pace of business technology change.
Alongside this, there is a paradigm shift happening in software development: The nature of development is morphing from developing and deploying large intricate apps to offering current and new services in agile ways that add value. “The core of application development itself has forever altered. The days of complex design are over, and the era of agility, simplicity and flexibility has arrived,” says Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings.
According to analyst firm Forrester, while “developers are still trying to master application development, the market is shifting away from apps, and toward more contextually relevant micro-moments, delivered across families of devices, that are personalised to anticipate unique customer needs.”
This, says Firth, is the result of the fact that the traditional methods used to develop applications do not translate well into the mobile environment. “Organisations must ensure they bring their existing systems and business processes into the consumer driven mobile world through apps. At the moment, what most companies are doing is publishing the existing versions of their legacy systems within an app, rather than designing an app to meet specific needs.”
It is not just about an upgrade but rather reviewing your business with the assumption that you have access to a consumer 24/7, he adds. “One of the key elements of redesigning a traditional web function into the app world we call ‘socialising’ the experience. Traditional web-based legacy systems were really driven for transaction input rather than a social experience where a user almost feels a direct relationship with the app and the user’s needs. The whole process has to be redesigned to facilitate these considerations.”
This will give rise to the “invisible app” where the road to the digital market may no longer be the front end but rather how the app service can plug into another app to provision more contextual information, Firth says. As a simple example, the immediate displaying of the weather in a diary app when entering an appointment for a different physical location.
“More than a year ago, Matthew Panzarino wrote an article on TechCrunch in which he described a new type of mobile app experience that he coined the Invisible App. He predicted that we would imminently see the rise of a huge number of apps that would live in the background, anticipating our needs based on sensor and contextual data, and do things for us before we even had to ask. What an exciting vision,” he adds. “Is this not where the Internet of Things may just come to the fore? These devices will have the ability to measure contextual information that will add value to a user experience within an app.”
At the end of the day, says Firth, the speed of change is bringing huge challenges to developers, but this is unlikely to slow down. “Agile development and composition of apps is the best way to stay ahead and satisfy end user expectations.”