Plenty of mobile app development challenges are drawing headlines and building up hype. You have the problem of needing to program apps for diverse operating systems, which has been a thorn in the side of enterprise development teams for years. Then there's optimization for touch interfaces and small screens, a concern that has led to a steady spate of research on how people interact with different types of devices. These attention-grabbing issues get so much attention that it is easy for businesses to neglect some of the smaller problems in mobile app development.
These areas of concern may not get hype, but they can cause plenty of efficiency problems for organizations. What's more, they can stifle innovation and make it difficult to establish an effective enterprise mobility strategy. Application development platforms can address many of the lingering mobile app problems. Here are three particularly troublesome challenges and a look at how to address them:
This under-the-radar problem stems from the big-picture issue of diverse devices and operating systems, but has become even more acute in recent years. The velocity of device and operating system releases is leading to an incredible variety of systems that developers need to test for. Industry expert Craig Lurey told Inc. that this market fragmentation is making testing one of the most prominent emerging challenges for mobile developers.
"Mobile device market fragmentation is making testing one of the most prominent emerging challenges for mobile developers."
"Developers are strongly encouraged to support the latest hardware features and OS versions, but in many cases supporting the latest hardware and OS software requires major changes that drop support for legacy versions," Lurey told the news source. "Users must still be supported from a backend and support perspective."
If businesses fail to properly test applications, they open themselves up to security, reliability and performance problems. App development platforms can alleviate these issues by redefining how organizations create apps. Instead of having to program and optimize applications for devices and operating systems, companies can develop for the cloud platform. This is often accomplished using low-code interfaces that allow for app creation through a visual interface.
With this configuration in place, only the platform needs to be updated for native support on different devices and operating systems. From there, the apps can be created, tested and deployed extremely quickly, alleviating the testing challenges associated with typical mobile development processes.
Coming up with good specifications and ideas for mobile apps is relatively easy. Getting business and tech users together to talk about what an app should accomplish is a fairly standard, simple practice. However, taking a solution from this inception phase and making that vision a reality can prove a nearly insurmountable challenge.
Inc. reported that apps can tend to get caught up in feedback loops. Furthermore, the amount of time it takes to make any changes and adjustments to mobile apps can add up quickly, pushing projects off of schedule and over budget. These issues lead to stagnation within app initiatives.
If your team has an idea for an app and gets business stakeholders on board, then you show them an in-progress built only to get negative feedback, you have to scrap some of your work to adjust. These types of loops don't just stifle progress, they also make it extremely difficult to ensure apps end up achieving the goals they were initially specified to deal with.
App platforms can address these concerns in two ways:
Every app will need to integrate with databases from various lines of business to operate effectively. Mobile Business Insights explained that many companies end up in a situation in which they start out by only integrating mobile apps with the absolutely necessary systems. A niche app may only need one or two integrations. However, a major enterprise tool such as a customer relationship management system will need hundreds of integrations. Businesses can run into efficiency gaps as they gradually ramp up the number of systems an app is integrated with.
"Ramping up mobile app development isn't just a matter of getting better at coding for mobile."
Furthermore, this gradual ramp up can severely limit an app's ability to be effective at the beginning of its life.
An app platform can eliminate these demands by creating a stable, integrated backend hosted in the cloud. Because of this, all of the apps residing within the platform can easily share data with one another. Furthermore, companies only have to integrate their other apps and databases with the platform itself, not with each solution created within the cloud setup. As a result, organizations need only build out integrations once and can support extremely rapid deployment.
Ramping up mobile app development isn't just a matter of getting better at coding for mobile. It can't be done by focusing solely on the big-picture issues that are shaping the industry. Businesses must also get down in the weeds and solve some of the more technical, nuanced issues that can arise when trying to develop, deploy and maintain apps in a mobile-focused world.
App development platforms lay the foundation for sustainable innovation by resolving a wide range of issues in app creation and support. They provide the core infrastructure needed to circumvent many typical mobile development challenges, establishing a framework for both more efficient IT processes and greater business and technology environments. The mobile enterprise requires speed and efficiency within development efforts. Low-code platforms lay the foundation for success.
Appian is a software company that automates business processes. The Appian Platform includes everything you need to design, automate, and optimize even the most complex processes, from start to finish. The world's most innovative organizations trust Appian to improve their workflows, unify data, and optimize operations—resulting in better growth and superior customer experiences.