In todays world, users expect to be able to access their information and applications anywhere, anytime on any device.
There's been a lot of buzz around recently about having a single site / web experience that can drive a OPTIMIZED multi-channel web experience for folk accessing the site and applications using desktop browsers, smartphones and tablets.
When you look at a site it's usually made up of a mish-mash of various content and application sources, including web content management, social software and applications. It's often the applications that are often the critical component that deliver some key value like doing your banking, checking the order status or interacting with some important business process.
Before the mobile revolution, these applications have had the luxury of the desktop browser, with all it's plugins, screen real-estate and desktop capabilities you can develop some easy to use very functional applications. Now with the need to access those same applications in the new disconnected world we live in, you're dealing with limited screen real-estate, many different form factors, fat fingers, mobile operating systems like iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone etc and many other new capabilities and restrictions.
Using WebSphere Portal as the backbone for the multichannel web experience, with IBM Web Experience Factory to develop these multichannel applications, it makes it possible to have a single application the uses dynamic profiling to adapt itself to the specific device being used. The application can optimize itself to suite the form factor, operating system of the user. Developing this as single application that knows how to deal with the form factor creates a potential for massive time and cost savings.
A lot of the time, the native mobile/tablet browser will provide you all the capability you need and you have one application that knows how to deal with desktop browsers, mobile and tablet. However in certain situations you need to be able to go beyond the mobile browser's capability to access smartphone and tablet device specific capabilities like the camera, address book, accelerometer etc... Now many organisations have seen this gap and looked to start from scratch and develop completely separate native phone applications.Starting from scratch often means using device specific development environments, APIs which often require new skills, or even new people, not to mention the initial outlay to redevelop existing applications and the massive ongoing cost of maintaining them.
So, a separate native app is one approach, another is to leverage your single multi-channel site and applications you developed with WebSphere Portal and Web Experience Factory and combine it with IBM Worklight to provide the option to deliver your web-applications as a native-like app. I say "native-like" as it is actually a hybrid app, that takes your web-app... you supply special markup (dynamically profiled of course) which allows you to create application that look like and work like native phone/tablet applications.... all from a single core application source. Wow!!!
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