Juniper Research forecasts that total revenues from mobile apps are on track to reach $99 billion by 2019. However, many predict that the skills crisis in mobile app development could hinder this growth as demand for skills is outstripping capabilities in many organisations.
Robert Half, a leading UK IT recruitment firm, recently claimed that increased demand for mobile apps has made it harder for companies to recruit candidates with mobile app development skills. Candidates are in short supply because good app developers need both technical skills and softer business skills – an elusive combination.
Technically, mobile app developers need experience in app development across the major platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone). They also require experience of coding with Mobile Frameworks such as Xcode, Android SDK, and or Windows Phone App Studio. Experience of mobile and web development languages and mobile app frameworks is also important.
In addition to technical skills, project management and communication skills are also essential. Developers need to collaborate and communicate effectively with colleagues and leaders throughout the company.
Gartner reported that more than a quarter of enterprises globally, have not built, customised or virtualised any mobile apps in the last 12 months. It highlighted that the barriers to mobile initiatives are resources related — lack of funds, worker hours and skills gaps.
In addition to the skills crisis, traditional methods of app development can be challenging.
Many companies face against integration issues. Creating apps for devices from different manufacturers can be challenging. Database integration and synchronisation issues are also common. However, these challenges can be overcome and the benefits that mobile apps offer businesses shouldn’t be underestimated.
Mobile business apps can extend the functionality and life of existing line of business applications. They can also improve customer service and business efficiency, in addition to supporting direct marketing channels. The right app enables management teams and employees to run their operations more effectively. They are also an effective way to engage customers and boost sales.
But who should you get to build these vital, customer facing apps that integrate with your existing line of business applications?
The future for app development
One option is to hire external developers. But this can be costly and challenging. They won’t understand the business inside out in the same way as an in-house team.
A more cost-effective solution is using no code or low code development tools such as rapid business app development platforms. They can transform the app development process, enabling businesses to capitalise on the explosion in demand for apps.
Using internal staff or ‘citizen developers,’ these platforms enable non-developers to build mobile apps quickly and easily.
Gartner agrees. They estimate that by 2018 more than half of all B2E mobile apps will be written by citizen developers and business analysts, using codeless tools such as rapid app business development platforms.
It says: “The use of codeless tools for the rapid development of straightforward projects by IT and enterprise business analysts will become an alternative to outsourcing, limiting the use of development partners to more-advanced projects. Those that resist will be bypassed and promote shadow IT.”
Such tools can reduce the amount of traditional coding or obviate the need for coding altogether. This can lower the cost of setup, training and deployment. They enable existing staff to develop sophisticated, fully functioning web, hybrid and even native business apps, far more quickly than other methods, often using the skills they have.
They offer staff “no code” and “low code” options that allow for development by selection (point and click app development). There are also options to incorporate pre-existing software or develop new customisation.
Companies won’t have to incur the cost of recruiting an external app development team. Instead they can use existing staff who know their business to specify the apps they really need. Using existing staff makes it easier and more cost-effective to update or change an app. The development cycle is also dramatically shortened. Internal staff can develop the app almost in parallel with specifying the requirements.
Solutions4Strategy opts for low code tool
One company using rapid business app development technology is Solutions4Strategy. It is a leading provider of software and consultancy services serving the Australian, UK and US markets. The company recently used the technology to launch a series of business apps to support its international business expansion.
Previously, the company installed software on its clients’ desktops. However, as the business grew, this process was resource intensive and costly to manage and maintain. When clients updated their technology, the software wasn’t always compatible. In addition, sorting out back-end integration issues was challenging.
To resolve integration issues, reduce IT maintenance time, drive down costs and expand globally, Solutions4Strategy decided to launch cloud-based versions of its apps. After researching the market, it found the app development solutions frustratingly limited. It chose our business app development platform, Evoke because it offered a flexible solution that allows for faster app development.
One key attraction was Evoke’s rich data management capabilities and flexibility. The product integrates with SQL and MultiValue databases and allows full synchronisation between local systems and back-end databases.
This meant that during the development process, Solutions4Strategy could define the data it required for apps. It also allowed it to transfer existing data into the new apps without any restrictions, saving time and money.
Another benefit was using a single app design and code base, apps could be created for multiple device types and operating systems. The solution is future proof. No matter how much the business needs change or the technology evolves, it offers an unlimited growth path.
Using this platform, Solutions4Strategy has created a more dynamic business, able to respond quickly to customers. It now offers sophisticated cloud-based apps that enable customers to keep on top of regulations and manage compliance.
Low code development tools enable businesses to use their existing staff, rather than trained developers, to create sophisticated and high functioning apps that automate business processes and enable companies to launch digital services. A lack of internal mobile app development skills is no longer a barrier to creating high quality apps.
Malcolm Carroll is Director of BlueFinity, a market leader in the provision of MultiValue centric tools for app development. Malcolm has spent over 35 years in IT and professional services and for over 25 years has owned and managed his own companies providing software and services to clients worldwide.
Evoke is a low cost, low code, rapid app development platform that gives you all you need for your existing staff to cost effectively design, develop and deploy your apps across multiple devices. Evoke allows you to easily create web, hybrid and native apps and fully integrate and synchronise with existing back-end systems and databases.