Are you upwardly mobile?
The world has officially gone mobile. It has done so in ways that we could not even have conceived of only a few years ago. Today, there are more smartphones and tablets sold than all of the PCs in the world put together, and in certain countries mobile devices have replaced cash. They have created a vibrant app economy with almost 500,000 new jobs. And a mobile startup goes from zero to a one billion valuation in less than two years.
Mobile development has not been confined to just the individual or consumer market. It has also been a key driver in the consumerization of IT. Business applications, processes, and even business models have been and continue to be transformed by mobile. All of this is the well-known part. What is less appreciated is the tidal wave impact of this mobile revolution on a less visible world, the world of software.
The impact on software development
Mobile devices have caused the 'app' wave that, in its wake, has brought about significant and disruptive innovations. Analysts have identified the emergence of a whole new paradigm they call systems of engagement, which is distinct from the existing technology paradigm of systems of record. These innovations have given rise to new opportunities, which are driving a demand for new skills, even in the enterprise software market.
Given the very personal nature of mobile devices, enterprises are facing a sea change, driven by two key phenomena: BYOD (bring your own device) and BOYA (bring your own app). We all want to take advantage of mobile devices for fun, engagement and productivity. But what this means is that we can no longer assume that our development is isolated within the protective shell of an enterprise IT governance model.
Dealing with coexistence of personal and corporate data, on a mobile device, can cause new challenges. For example, how do you segregate the data without crippling the experience of the device or the application? The risk of corporate data ending up on unsecured servers is a great threat. However, users everywhere are seeing the value of BOYD and want to bring this functionality into their enterprises. This is a great opportunity for enterprise developers to create innovative applications for use within the corporate boundaries. IBM’s technology adoption program also known as TAP, has been pioneering these capabilities for some time with great internal tools. Similarly are there any enterprise mobile apps that you would like to develop? Do you think you have the requisite skills?
How this changes what software development requires
Although massive change can give rise to equally massive anxiety, the exciting thing is that the world of the mobile enterprise already aligns with many of the priorities that we have within our own developer community. To address the real challenges of developing apps across multiple platforms (web, native, hybrid), integrating with core enterprise applications, and managing a huge volume of mobile devices, IBM has announced a comprehensive IBM Mobile Foundation, with the IBM Worklight mobile application platform as the development cornerstone to navigate the fragmented smartphone market.
Because the majority of enterprises use mobile apps to represent their brands to customers, the impact of mobile apps is very large, yet the time to market for the same apps is very short. This requires developers to collaborate, so they can play to their strengths while ensuring that there is adherence to corporate governance practices and industry standards. Furthermore, the cycle time expectation of mobile apps requires agile development practices for distributed teams.
Fortunately, for the last few years, the Rational software group has been leading IBM in enabling agile development across distributed teams with our collaborative lifecycle management capabilities. The challenges of synchronizing development across multiple platforms, servers, and back-office services, coupled with near-instantaneous deployment, means that the DevOps practice of enabling continuous delivery is even more important today than it has ever been. Similarly, automating testing and build using continuous integration and Green Hat security capabilities increases quality, while speeding the velocity of iterations — exactly what mobile app development demands.
Also, given the programming model of hybrid apps, the mobile developer will need both a cloud of server images for part of the apps and will also use capabilities such as device clouds to validate the app on different carriers and devices. And, of course, the list goes on.
What this means to you
Given all of this change and innovation, it is important that you spend some time learning how to develop for mobile devices. But then, change is not new to you. You’ve been here before. Remember client/server? How about the start of the Internet? Or more recently, the cloud? As developers and engineers, we love challenges and solving problems. Good developers don't just learn programming languages. Instead, we learn new ways to solve a problem. Then we master the appropriate tool or language or process to implement the solution. In the mobile world, this might be a native app, a web app (check out the mobile version of ibm.com), or a hybrid app. Whatever the solution is, as a developer you will benefit by learning how to address this growing opportunity. Are you connected?
Vice President, Worldwide Strategy
Neeraj Chandra has over 20 years of experience in technology-driven organizations across Asia, Europe and USA. Neeraj came to IBM with the Telelogic acquisition. At Telelogic he served as executive vice president of corporate and product strategy. Before Telelogic, Neeraj was the senior vice president of marketing and corporate development at I-Logix, fastest growing provider of Model-driven development solutions for embedded systems. Prior to I-Logix Neeraj was the director of product marketing and worldwide operations for Computervision Corporation.
Connect with Neeraj on LinkedIn
Read Rational goes mobile, the roundup of articles about mobile development published in the Rational software section of developerWorks.
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