Mobile Application Development Platforms – The Holy Grail of Enterprises
Q & A with Rishi Bhammar, Senior Director, Delivery & Strategic Account Management at July Systems.
Why is MADP popular with enterprises?
Enterprises have robust business processes that already have their own set of technology platforms and stack. Mobiles presented an opportunity to maximize business value by extending these to end user devices. However, this posed multiple challenges to the Enterprise IT organization. The challenge posed to the IT stakeholder was to effectively extend business to diverse mobile devices running different operating systems; and at the same also ensure their management and scale in a cost effective manner. Custom app development for individual platforms was not a reasonable solution given its high cost and time to market. The need was to rapidly develop and deploy multiple apps at a fraction of the cost. This generated a compelling demand for MADPs. With the “platform”, enterprises could quickly develop apps regardless of the lead time. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a platform allowed you to build apps overnight.
Though rapid app development is an important capability of the platform, it is not the only reason for popularity. “Consumerization of IT” has necessitated the management of multiple devices; MADPs address these issues as well. They allowed IT to distribute and manage apps across multiple operating systems while ensuring the integrity and security aspects. So having a platform almost became a mandate from the security and management perspective as well.
Another reason worth noting is how MADP helps enterprises optimize the skills of their web developers. Now, web developers are more easily available than say, iPhone developers. MADPs use hybrid development tools like HTML5, CSS3 and Java Script, which makes it easier for companies to leverage the existing skills of their web developers.
Where do you see the market for MADP headed?
The last five years have witnessed a tremendous growth in the use of mobile phones at work. Companies are adopting BYOD policies because majority of the employees want to use tablets and smartphones to enable productivity. This in turn fuels the demand for more mobile applications to boost business growth. The whole phenomenon is creating a market for Mobile App Development Platform and I can only see it growing further.
If you want to go by numbers, MarketandMarkets.com – the research firm, forecasts the Mobile Application Development Platform market to grow from $1,919.9 million in 2014 to $7,151.2 million by 2019, which means the market will triple in size.
Who is the biggest player in this market?
The MADP market is huge. There is not one clear winner I can point out. In fact, to answer this question, what we should do is –segment the market on the basis of region, deployment model, and industry type.
In terms of market size, North America is expected to be the biggest market. However, Europe and Asia Pacific are expected to gain market traction soon. Now, if you consider the deployment model – IBM, Salesforce.com and Oracle are some of the big players which provide both cloud based and on premise services. Going by industry types – Kony is a popular name in the BFSI industry. July Systems has earned a name for itself in the Sports and Media industry. SAP is a big name in the retail sector. There are of course some others, but I have only listed a few to give you an idea.
Do all MADPs work in the same way?
Though all MADPs address some common issues, different vendors offer different capabilities. I have already mentioned that MADPs differ in terms of the deployment model they adopt – on premise, cloud hosted or in a single virtual appliance.
They differ in their usability too. Some platforms like Appery.io and AppMakr are useful in developing consumer facing applications because they are DIY platforms which require no development expertise. On the other hand, you have SAP’s Sybase Uniwired platform which has a steep learning curve. In spite of that, it is considered a good choice by enterprises because it provides a flexible development environment with plugins for Eclipse and Visual Studio.
Pricing model is another variation – some cross platforms like PhoneGap are open source whereas others like Appcelerator’s Titanium have attached licensing costs. I must add, that a free platform has its own disadvantages. For example – if you want to extend your app with a PhoneGap plugin, chances are that it may not be up to date and it may also not support your choice of platform.
Tell us about your platform and its capabilities
The July MX platform is a highly scalable modular platform offered as a service that can be used to build all kinds of mobile experiences – native apps, hybrid apps and m-sites. The platform does not focus on a single use case. Developers can create different apps for different devices or platforms. We have over 100 configurable modules, each supporting a different business need. Apart from having an integrated development environment the July MX platform comes with a WSIWYG Omni-Channel Studio, which means we have a collection of user friendly templates with capabilities like drag and drop and real time collaboration between developers and stakeholders that can allow anyone in the enterprise to literally create an app in minutes.
There is another useful tool called App X that I must tell you about. It allows you to make dynamic changes on your live app without having to go through the cumbersome submission and review process. The interesting thing is that it is not only available to our platform users. It is available to be used on any third party apps too.
Back end data integration is something that is critical for enterprises. The July MX platform takes care of that too through a powerful integration framework that can plug into a variety of customer, affiliate and 3rd party backend systems.
As part of managed mobility services – we offer cloud services as well as a dedicated 24×7 support team to monitor the client’s app post-delivery. The team can handle high traffic events and scale a client’s service up or down depending on the traffic or events. The fact that our platform was actually the first managed mobile platform on AWS infrastructure is a testimony to its competence.
So, if I had to sum it up, I’d say the July MX platform allows enterprises to develop, manage, distribute, monitor, measure and monetize their mobile business.
Can you tell us about your clients?
Being an early mover, we have had the fortune of servicing some of the top industry leaders. July MX platform has various clients across industries. We have provided our platform to most of the big players in the sports and media industry. It has been well received by other industries as well – retail, banking, automotive. Our most recent client is a renowned name in the hospitality sector.
Besides offering our platform to individual clients, we also have some industry best partners, who use our platform to develop apps for their clients.
What factors should a company consider before investing in an MADP?
MADPs are powerhouses with some amazing capabilities – but not every company may require all of them. So, it is important for a business to consider a platform that is relevant to their use cases. It is prudent to check some of these – compatibility with different devices and platforms, technology stack supported, type of enterprise friendly hooks available, prebuilt connectors, security, management through app lifecycle and support services.
Though those are some important aspects to consider, I feel that examining the pricing model along with the roadmap of an MADP is what will largely determine the choice of an enterprise. There are complex licensing structures involved in pricing models today, which also have some hidden costs that may end up affecting your total cost of ownership. There are per device based pricing models which may not make any sense in case of huge sales. Similarly the roadmap visibility and alliances will provide insights into how far out can you be relevant. No point in selecting an MADP that has no roadmap for the next version support of an OS or the next big feature of a device. That is why I feel, any company looking to invest in an MADP must thoroughly assess the pricing model, the roadmap and choose the one that accomplishes their objectives and promises a better ROI.
About Rishi Bhammar: Rishi Bhammar is a Sr. Director at July Systems responsible for all delivery. He has managed large deployments such as NBC Universal, CBS, ESPN, Teleflora, Intel and most recently Cisco. He is a wanderlust and passionate about location based marketing services for the travel and retail industry.
Rishi has 15 years of experience in IT, spent in various account and delivery program management roles at iGate Global Solutions, Union Bank of California and at Polaris Software Lab. As a Group Project Manager at iGATE, he was managing a portfolio of over 64 projects for the Banking Business Unit, leading a team of 150+ people.
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