As the demand for mobile apps escalates, low-code/no-code rapid mobile app development platforms are rising to meet the need, allowing so-called “citizen developers” to produce apps in less time at far lower costs. And as tech users become increasingly tech-savvy, an increasing amount of app development is falling not to traditional developers, but to those outside the IT department in order to address particular technology needs.
A recent Gartner Study found that opportunities are ripe for Rapid Mobile App Development in 2016, and another Gartner report warns that by the end of 2017, “market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them.” That spells trouble for application developers who are barely meeting custom mobile app demands in enterprise today.
According to Gartner’s James Wong, “We’re definitely seeing a sprawling demand for RMAD tools by businesses. There’s IT that’s trying to meet the demand of the business units to fulfill all these mobile apps they need for employees, business partners, and even consumers, but there’s just not enough skilled mobile developers at this point. It can be very expensive to hire and train [new developers] because the demand for these business talents is also so great that it’s hard to retain them.”
By 2019, mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units, which will in turn “fuel demand for apps in the enterprise that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps.” Employees and employers alike will want custom mobile applications that are slick and easy to use but also improve workflow and productivity without sacrificing enterprise must-haves: security, data integration, offline access, and more.
But can RMAD tools actually produce better results than those created by its developer counterparts? RMAD reveals its true value in the fact that low-code and no-code platforms allow non-developers to product secure, highly functioning apps at a lower cost than hiring traditional developer talent.
Wong provided some insight into this challenge, explaining: “RMAD tools are becoming very popular because these tools allow enterprises to use and train their existing resources, business analysts, and folks that are maybe designers, that use Photoshop or InDesign or have worked on Microsoft Access building macros and things like that.”
These “citizen developers” are taking app creation to new levels, Wong says. “They don’t know coding, but they can put together a user interface, they can use modeling to create work flows and model some of the business logic, so they’re able to ramp up these resources faster to deliver applications.”
The demand for mobile apps is five times that of ITs ability to deliver on it in the current environment. Using MAD tools allows IT to decentralize some of that work so IT’s not a bottleneck and these “citizen developers” can work within the lines of business to fulfill immediate needs.
Wong says that corporate app stores are becoming the norm as more internal business apps are being produced, with each employee developing their own portfolio of apps that is unique to his or her own department.
And actually, Wong explains, most IT developers are a bit relieved that citizen developers are taking some of the pressure off of them. He stated that IT “would rather focus on all that backend stuff they’re familiar with and start picking and choosing RMADs that make sense for their business partners to leverage to build the apps that they need. IT can start concentrating on the core of backend stats, making sure that it’s reliable, open and its governance and security apply to it so when these frontend tools are using those services, there are guardrails for them to build the applications using these RMAD tools.”
According to Gartner, mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, with mobile users providing personalized data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day. The pressure to create these apps far exceeds the available IT talent to produce them.
“We predict that enterprises will have upwards of one thousand apps,” says Wong. “Today you have hundreds of desktop applications in a large enterprise; HR systems, sales systems, financial systems, customer service, and for each one of those apps the backend sits on a desktop. These apps could be repurposed for different types of users; information from those backends could live in different types of applications.”
“Mobile applications are much smaller. So when you work, you work in an application to fit your profile and your persona. You go in and do a task fairly quickly, then get out. There’s going to be several different apps you will need based on your profile; you can have some business productivity apps. If you’re a salesperson, you have document apps, multiple sales apps, your time expense application, schedule application, weather application when you’re traveling, and things like that; there are going to be lots of applications out there.”
Non-developers, being closer to the needs and intricacies of the mobile apps they need, may in fact be able to produce better final products than developers, but it will depend on how well IT, developers, and other stakeholders can collaborate in the process of developing the best possible apps with available resources.
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