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Former Member

Early this year I wrote a blog post titled Why 2013 Will Be The Year of the Mobile App' and the main reasons for this argument were: (1) the cost of building enterprise-grade apps is plummeting, (2) mobile security is a reality, (3) total integration with existing corporate data systems, and (4) the average employee now carries 3.5 mobile devices. These factors, among others, create a 'perfect storm' for enterprise app development and it is important to note that enterprise app development can be applied to the customization of a prepackaged mobile application with an integrated mobile application development platform.

Where many companies have, and sadly continue to, gone wrong in their mobile project is when they have taken an application-centric approach to adopting mobile technologies instead of a platform-based approach. Let's outline the two approaches to properly evaluate which one is better for your business.

Application-Centric ApproachPlatform-Based Approach

An application-centric approach focuses on developing or buying point solutions or prepackaged mobile apps, with limited customization options, to enhance specific business operations. Some believe that the emergence of HTML5 as a viable mobile app technology makes this simple strategy more valuable because HTML5 apps are portable across devices.

A platform-based approach requires an enterprise-grade mobile application development platform. Some large organizations will implement their own on premise. Many others will opt to use a managed enterprise mobility service to realize the value of platform based management without investing in a platform themselves.

Beyond the basic descriptions of each approach are the advantages and disadvantages of the two paths to mobile application development and adoptions. The application-centric approach provides an easy entry point to business mobility. However, its lack of uniform controls means that it can quickly become difficult to manage and secure.

A grab bag of mobile apps from different sources is very difficult to integrate. As demand for mobile functionality grows in an organization, the app-centric approach bogs down in management overhead and lack of agility.

On the other hand, a platform-based approach provides a solid foundation for uniform security controls, total integration between mobile operations and core business activities, and greater flexibility to adapt to changing technology and business needs. This functionality has a direct impact on the value mobile technology delivers to business operations.

As the figure below shows, not only is the overall cost of enterprise mobility management lower with a platform solution, but the tighter integration between mobile and fixed operations results in more efficient business processes. Platform-based enterprise mobility makes it possible to rapidly develop and deploy mobile apps at lower cost. As more workers become enabled to do their work anywhere, the organization as a whole does a better job of capturing and sharing information that is critical for maximizing the value of all business operations.

The platform-based approach clearly provides a long-term strategy however some mobile application development platforms provide the ability to customize prepackaged mobile apps. If you are looking for a solution today that meets a specific business need, look for a mobile platform that offers this ability. This will allow to rapidly implement a mobile app without sacrifycing your mobile strategy/

Regardless the approach your choose to take, I encourage you to read Bill Clark's recent ZDNet blog Are You Ready to Future-Proof Your Investment in Mobile Applications? that addresses current dialogue about HTML5 and Native approaches to mobile app development and how app developers that will rise above the pack will take the time to focus on cultivating three habits. Read the blog to find out what these habits are!