Building and Testing Mobile Apps for the Enterprise Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

12 05 2013

blackberry-z10-at-t-front_contentfullwidthRecently Derek Britton of Micro Focus issued an article giving some great advice on how to develop one’s enterprise mobile strategy.  As we have been discussing in recent posts, mobile is expanding exponentially and is putting even more pressure on IT teams to support these efforts. Derek covers some great ways to deploy a mobile strategy and support a mobile strategy in a cost-efficient way. In it he shared ” The advent of the savvy end-user and the rising trend of “bring your own device” (BYOD) have immeasurably changed the way in which services must be provided by IT. As smart phone capabilities develop, so does the level of expectations for added functionality.

Businesses will find it impossible to ignore mobile if they wish to remain competitive in the next few years and must consider the most effective way to develop and adapt business applications to the needs of the mobile user.

The take-up of mobile technology will have “dramatic effect” on back-office IT systems, according to a study from Forrester Research. Modern users expect 24/7 mobile access to all the applications and online services that they would use on their desktop or laptop computer, visiting e-commerce sites, accessing their bank online, and more recently, loading their work applications. Yet, according to Forrester, “hidden costs and disruptions” are set to plague organizations that do not make appropriate pre-emptive action.

The Forrester Report suggests that mobile projects hide a variety of potential pitfalls as a result of infrastructure that is ill-prepared for exploding activity volumes. However, organizations need not think that embracing mobile will require a costly and complete overhaul of existing IT infrastructure to resolve these issues.

Businesses should consider re-using as much of their existing business applications and processes as possible in order to guarantee integrity, continuity and security of service for the future. Potential threats to the infrastructure of exploding activity volumes can be mitigated by making smart choices about application provision and workload management, to relieve pressure and offer a more cost- effective and viable solution to adopt mobile.

So what should businesses be doing to embrace mobile in a cost- efficient fashion? There are several steps that businesses can take to ensure that their IT infrastructures are prepared for the mobile explosion:

Re-use and adapt

All too often businesses approach mobile by developing new applications when in fact they could simply re-use and adapt existing, core back-end applications. The benefit of this approach is that costs are reduced and the existing infrastructure is not compromised.

While many may not consider COBOL for adapting business applications to support mobile use, its simplicity and therefore adaptability, makes this programming language, which accounts for approximately 70% of all critical business processes, the perfect candidate to take IT into the mobile era. With tools such as Visual Studio or Eclipse, developers are able to modernise applications to support new mobile applications across a wide number of technical platforms. COBOL can be used in each instance to efficiently deliver business services and their supporting data from the back-end to the user. The benefits of re-using COBOL systems rather than re-writing them are numerous and include a faster delivery of IT service, at lower cost and risk, while retaining intellectual property and competitive advantage.

Thoroughly test your mobile apps

When undertaking a considerable project such as adapting to mobile, testing is one area that cannot afford to be compromised. However traditional testing practices can mean that projects can overrun on time as well as budget. By moving application testing for mobile, web and related back-end systems to a more cost- effective environment that is easy to use, testing phases are able to be completed much faster and more thoroughly without eating into mainframe power. These environments also lend themselves better to supporting test automation and performance testing needs.”

As Derek reinforced –  the need to thoroughly test your mobile apps is critical and that doesn’t have to be expensive either.  Automated testing can be done in many different ways and utilizing different formats for different stages of your testing. From functional testing to performance testing, ensuring that your customers experience the highest quality of app or website is contingent upon how well it’s developed, and tested. More on this topic to come so check back soon or follow our blog today!

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US Analysts Predict a Rapid Migration to Mobile

10 05 2013

graphOver the last 5 years since 2007, we have seen an explosion in mobile apps to make our lives convenient and more efficient. And it appears there is no letting up. Recently, Forrester Research noted that there are now 7.3 billion mobile devices in a world where there are only 7 billion people.

“Mobile applications in the Enterprise may be a future vision for many companies, but mobile is a vision that is being realized much quicker than many had expected.  What does the rise of mobile mean for the enterprise?

The global Enterprise Mobility (EM) market is expected to grow annually by 15 percent every year, eventually reaching $140 billion by 2020. By 2020 roughly 10-12 percent of the enterprise IT budgets will be spent on mobility, compared to less than 5 percent today. These numbers are based on a report by Nasscom in association with Deloitte.

Similarly,IDC is predicting that the biggest driver for new IT spending this year will be smart mobile devices, which include smartphones, tablets and eReaders. IDC expects that this segment will grow 20 percent and generate 57 percent of the IT industry’s total growth.

Industries where there are many customer interactions, like in banking, insurance and retail are seeing higher rates of Enterprise Mobile adoption. Mobile adoption is expected to also increase in government, healthcare and media.

The move to mobile is being fueled by mobile developers turning out applications for their businesses. Frost and Sullivan report that 82 percent of large North American businesses have already developed mobile apps for their employees. AndGartner is predicting that among in-house development projects, those that target smartphones and tablets will soon outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4-to-1.” says Dick Weisinger of formtek.com.

Testing is critical in this process





As Enterprise Mobility Goes Mainstream, So Will Testing

6 05 2013

Forrester 1

In a recent article by Steve Levy of Virivo Software, he affirms what we have been hearing from our enterprise customers over the last couple of years, that the world of mobile app and website development has now gone beyond just supporting the consumer to now supporting their own mobile workforce. And not just BYOD, but there has been a noticeable increase in focusing on improving workforce performance and  efficiency through investing in IT infrastructure and mobile app development for what we call ‘internal apps’ – namely those you wouldn’t recognize or see except when working for particular company. From submitting expense reports to monitoring timecards to supporting sales efforts, enterprises are realizing the importance and benefit they can achieve by supporting such efforts.

Mr Levy write “going mobile meant having a phone and access to email, contacts and web browsing, but little else. For laptop users, mobility has often required a virtual private network connection just to get at email or data held back at the office.

But the good news is that things are changing.

According to Forrester Research, 29 percent of the global workforce are now “anytime, anywhere information workers” who use three or more devices, while Gartner predicts that mobile app projects will outnumber PC-focused app projects by a ratio of 4:1 by 2015.

Starting this year, I believe we’ll see a rapid acceleration in the development and use of custom enterprise mobile apps, transforming the way in which organizations work. This trend will be fueled by the following key factors.

  1. Off-the-shelf apps will become commonplace
    CRM and ERP vendors already offer off-the-shelf mobile apps as standard – soon, sales force automation apps will be as common as e-mail on mobile devices. This signals the maturity of packaged mobile apps, and increasingly they are gaining acceptance and credibility by delivering real improvements in business efficiency.
  2. The mobile ecosystem will encourage custom app development
    In parallel, more companies will develop custom mobile apps that are tailored to the specific needs of the organization, and can integrate with many types of back-end systems. This is possible because software companies are delivering powerful mobile infrastructure platforms with integrated security capabilities, such as remote wiping of data from lost devices and the ability to keep sensitive data on back-end servers.For example, Invesco Canada quickly developed a mobile app that gives financial advisors secure access to data from a back-end client data system, and allows them to send clients marketing collateral. First Solar has built multiple enterprise mobile apps, including one that enables users to document their daily plant-floor “walk arounds” to determine what areas need improvement. For these apps to be successful; they need to both connect with multiple data sources and keep corporate information secure.
  3. Personal infrastructure will drive corporate success
    With the availability and rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, especially by knowledge workers, businesses are increasingly putting BYOD policy at the heart of their mobile strategy. Companies recognize that BYOD presents a security risk and can make things harder for the IT team, but if executed correctly, these challenges can be addressed. Ultimately, the benefits of being able to work with your employees in such a deep and intimate manner – with a device that they keep by their side at nearly all times – far outweighs the costs involved.

So what does this mean for businesses?

Never before have businesses had the opportunity to interact so closely with their employees. The rise in personal infrastructure through the adoption of smartphones and tablets, along with improvements in mobile technologies and the growing availability of business apps, are creating new ways for businesses to empower their workforce.

One thing’s for sure: organizations can no longer procrastinate about mobilizing the enterprise. Taking charge of their mobile initiatives can significantly enhance productivity and positively impact the bottom-line.

So stop flirting and embrace enterprise mobility.”

With this new growth and expansion comes a new level of expectation by the workforce that these new apps will work, work globally, and provide the tools they need to become more efficient and productive. This is where cloud testing comes in. IT organizations in particular who suddenly have to staff and support these new apps may not have the tools or resources to perform adequate testing on a global scale all while supporting different OSs in different regions around the world. It’s a daunting task to say the least. To read more about cloud mobility, check out a new article by DeviceAnywhere on mobile app development in the cloud.





Is HTML5 the Answer to Mobile App Development?

25 04 2013

Appcelerator HTML5 ChartThere is definitely mixed feelings out in the market on how to build and support mobile apps and websites. On one side you have those that are frustrated with HMTL5 (Facebook and others come to mind). A recent report issued by Appcelerator and IDC found that while it is “evolving into a strong and proven platform for creating all but the most demanding consumer and business applications” it has still a ways to go to become a development standard. In the survey, which interviewed over 5,000 developers it was clear that concerns still remain. “On the positive side, clearly HTML5 retains its user satisfaction numbers in terms of its ability to deliver a true cross-development environment. As well, the ability to get updates of applications out the door quickly retains a positive satisfaction level.

Things become dicey, however, on a relatively large number of fronts. The issue of monetization, which tops the list with an 83.4 percent neutral to dissatisfaction rating, is interesting. We wish the survey had done a deeper dive on that, but we suspect that the issue comes down to one of getting HTML5-based apps out into the market. Are developers worried about a lack of app store capability? Are they worried about a lack of ecosystems such as the Apple App Store and Google Play? For enterprise developers these are non-issues; enterprise application stores are easy to build and support.

For developers looking to build mobile apps they may be looking to market for $1 (or whatever price point is appropriate) to a million individual users, the availability of an ecosystem becomes crucial, and it is true that for HTML5 apps an easy path to a viable ecosystem to sell them does not currently exist.”

On the other side you have developers who love it (example – Netflix moving from native to HTML5) and in a recent article Nick Heath shared that “for every firm that switches away from HTML5 to native mobile app development there are major companies, such as the Financial Times and LinkedIn, that have adopted HTML5.”

He continues “The global travel technology company Sabre shares that same sense of excitement about HTML5. The firm provides software for some of the world’s biggest airlines and travel agents as well running travel sites such as Lastminute.com and Travelocity. It is switching its flagship TripCase app for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry app to run largely on HTML5 and JavaScript.

Tomek Krzyzak, software development VP for Sabre, said switching TripCase to HTML5 and JavaScript – with their ability to run on any mobile platform – primarily makes it easier to roll out the app for multiple flavors of handsets.

For TripCase, HTML5 is used to render the app’s interface and JavaScript to control the app’s client-side logic. The app runs within a native code shell on each platform, which allows it to be downloaded through the respective app stores, as well as providing access to platform-specific features such as push email notification.

And while HTML5 has still to overcome the shortcomings of its relative immaturity as a mobile app-development platform, Krzyzak believes that the sheer volume of mobile platforms will drive developers to favor HTML5.”

‘I can see at some point in time that everyone will be doing it,’ he said.

‘Fragmentation of mobile devices is really big. This is like what we saw 30 years ago with the PC, with hundreds of standards and everyone wanting to produce their own PC.’

He predicted it will take five to 10 years for mobile platforms to converge around a standard, and that in the meantime HTML5 will become the de facto choice for developers looking for a manageable way to make apps for the panoply of platforms.”

Regardless of which way you fall, the ability to efficiently develop apps and websites for mobile in a much shorter timeframe will be too hard for many to ignore. As device fragmentation continues to show no signs of disappearing anytime soon, this could be a way out.





The Case for Automated Mobile Testing

23 04 2013

Automating your mobile testing has two main advantages, increasing efficiency and cost savings. With automated testing, imagine you are able to conduct manual tests with simple scripts and run it repeatedly. You save human resources and money. Automated testing helps QA teams quickly create and test scripts to capture, verify and replay user interactions.

Every second saved by forgoing continuous manual input adds up, thus relieving the stress and resources, enabling testing to be streamlined. Some companies are able to automate all of their mobile testing. Depending on the type of app you are testing, at least 80 percent of it can be automated, however, factoring app functionality on different devices and platforms, there is often a need to supplement it with ad hoc manual testing.

Leveraging the tools that help measure and evaluate the quality of your mobile app or website, you can use real device testing or automated scripting to assess the quality of services. This will help you to determine the user’s experience in the environment of the App or service once its launched.

To read more about why you should automate go here.





Emulated and Real Device Mobile Testing

18 04 2013

https://i2.wp.com/www.mobilesitetesting.com/images/banner_mobile.pngDepending on your application, you will have to assess whether testing on an emulated device or real device is the best option. Many times it is not either/or decision and the best choice is both. Emulators offer the less expensive testing option, but they have many limitations for mobile testing and may not give an accurate depiction of the mobile user experience.

However, as part of the mobile testing process the use of emulation has an important role. There is certain testing that you can conduct with emulators that are sufficient which include testing for screen size or visual form factor. However, emulation is often an approximation of the rendering and can only get you so far.

Leveraging emulators is a positive step towards real device testing, however, not sufficient for comprehensive testing needs. With cloud-based testing you no longer need to have a bunch of people in a room with different mobile devices.

Testing on real devices gives the tester full functionality of the mobile device. While device types may be more limited than the emulated devices, testers should be able to have access to the real processor and hardware to understand the quirks that some real device have. Without this ability, users may not discover some real life issues that device differences would present in a real environment versus in an emulated environment.

It is important to conduct real device testing when needing to test mobile engagement with the device, launch applications, and interact with device at a more detailed level.

Keynote offers some useful free tools to perform mobile testing. Developers and testers can quickly conduct interactive functional testing on their websites from the convenience of their desktops with remotely accessed real devices and an accurate device emulator. To read more click here!





Mozilla and it’s Plans for the Mobile Web

16 04 2013

Mozilla-Firefox-Mobile-OS
In a recent article written by Stephanie Blanchard, she discussed Mozillas plans for it’s web-centric approach to supporting mobile. In the article she writes “Back when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dominated the desktop, Mozilla, an offshoot of Netscape, decided to challenge the monopoly with an open-source browser. After all, the non-profit organization’s core values revolve around one concept — the Web is a common good for society, not to be controlled by one or two companies.

After several Beta versions, Firefox was introduced in 2004. The browser attracted 100 million global users within its first year. Today, Firefox products (including Firefox for Android) account for almost half a billion users around the world.

With the new mobile OS, which debuted at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), Mozilla’s calling is once again to “free the internet, to create a common set of standards across all devices,” and to “unlock mobile” by giving users a viable option.

“We are fundamentally in the same place we were over a decade ago where it’s being unnaturally controlled by a few parties,” said Gary Kovacs, CEO, Mozilla, at MWC. Indeed, Apple and Android account for the bulk of smartphones, with Windows and BlackBerry fighting for third, or what many industry analysts consider crumbs.

The Approach

When Mozilla unveiled its ambitious mobile plans back in mid-2012, Telefonica, Qualcomm and Deutsche Telekom signed on as early adopters. Today, the organization has more than two dozen content and service partners, with Alcatel, LG and ZTE committed to manufacture the devices. (Huawei is expected to follow later this year.)

Not surprisingly, Mozilla takes a web-centric approach when it comes to mobile. HTML5 apps exist as a “first class citizen” on the homescreen. Similar to Android, Firefox OS is based on Linux. It runs the Gecko engine for its user interface, with more than 40% of its code written by volunteers.

Although Mozilla expects to continue to attract followers, especially as two billion new users come online within the next five years, the organization says it is not driven by profits, at all. Instead, it wants to be a much-needed catalyst in the mobile space, providing enabling technologies. John Jackson, Research Vice President, Mobile & Connected Platforms., IDC, concurs.

“Mozilla is a .org, so it’s not a disruptor in the commercial sense,” he said to Mobile Enterprise by email. “They’ve always been a source of innovative, community-based enabling technology. But, to be sure, if they see a degree of successful distribution in the mobile market, it will be plenty disruptive.”

Smart or Simple

In 2011, one-third of Americans owned a smartphone. That turned into one-half just a year later. According to the recent iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report, more than 62% of employees now use a personal smartphone for work, a trend that is expected to grow.

Despite Kovacs’ statement of the altruistic mission of Mozilla’s smartphone strategy, there is still a possibility that phones will eventually find their way into the enterprise via BYOD. Mozilla will likely aggressively focus on converting the remaining simple handset users to its inexpensive device.

“More is always more if you’re in the business of proliferating an OS platform so I reckon they’ll be happy to have you no matter what phone you’re moving from,” Jackson replied. “I think the strategy, generally speaking, is to fit into modestly priced hardware, and in so doing, attract feature phone owners who still number in the hundreds of millions.”

As more and more devices are introduced with the Mozilla browser pre-installed the use of HTML5 web apps and hybrid apps will grow exponentially. When utilizing the DeviceAnywhere platform it is important to remember that our devices come with whatever comes pre-installed on the device. Many devices may or may not have Mozilla or be HTML5 enabled so feel free to ask your rep or sign up today for a free trial!

To read more from the article click here.