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5 elements to successful enterprise mobile apps


michael-garrett2.jpgFor many businesses mobile is an imperative. A recent study revealed 52% of travelers used a mobile device to book travel (compared to 48% on a laptop). And according to a U.S. Federal Reserve report nearly 50% of smartphone owners used mobile banking applications in the last 12 months. In HP Software Professional Services we work with a number of large enterprise customers in industries like retail banking, transportation, and so on. Mobile is the way your end customers are coming to you and interacting with you. If they can’t find you on mobile, forget it. And customers expect high performance. If your mobile app isn’t very good, they’re gone.


But enterprise mobile apps—such as those you would use for making flight reservations or banking—are very different than consumer mobile apps. For one thing, they’re considerably more complex. Their processes go behind the app and interface with back-end enterprise systems. A flight booking application is not a standalone app; it may have an SAP back end reservation system that it tracks against. In addition, these apps have very valuable data that increases your security concerns.


Meeting enterprise app challenges

Compared to consumer apps, enterprise apps require a much stronger and more robust methodology not only in developing them but also securing them. We’ve worked with a number of customers to meet their enterprise app challenges. Recently we helped a very large financial services customer in the U.S. create their mobile retail banking app. Drawing from their experience, I’ve put together five best practices that can help you in your mobility journey:


1. Consider the entire ecosystem: Part of what we did for our customer was help them understand how they should think about developing mobile apps. A banking app resides on a mobile device but has complex connections to all the back-end systems where financial data is kept. So it’s really a small piece of a bigger application that sits behind the firewall. Mobile enterprise apps are only one small part of an enterprise’s entire application ecosystem.


2. Test for quality and performance: We provided testing and quality assurance services so our customer could make sure the application was performing as expected. Mobile users expect very fast response times. If an application doesn’t respond within a few seconds they will abandon it and move on. Fast response times and ease of use are critical in mobile apps.


3. Focus on security: A big part of our work with this customer centered on security. Enterprise applications interact with data stores and systems on the back end that contain highly sensitive information—in this case financial data. But mobile applications are even more vulnerable than desktop apps because they reside on devices that are not controlled by the IT department. So it’s imperative to make sure mobile applications are secure.


4. Create a mobile center of excellence: We also helped our customer set up a mobile center of excellence, an endeavor which included people, process and governance. As part of this, we provided a number of “accelerators.” These are pre-built configurations and pre-built content with pre-built methodologies and workflows that we have created on top of our HP Software technologies. Using our mobile ALM accelerator we were able to set up a COE in 6 weeks—a process that would have taken much longer if our customer had had to build everything from scratch.


5. Embrace DevOps: All the application lifecycle management disciplines that apply to your larger suite of applications should also apply to the mobile app. Except that in mobile, speed is imperative. You won’t have the luxury from a time-to-market perspective that you have from traditional apps; instead, you’ve got to supply the same level of robustness but you’ve got to be much much more agile. As I wrote in my last post, many of our customers are turning to DevOps to meet their mobility needs. Mobility is DevOps on steroids.


Learn more about HP Software Professional Services and HP’s solutions for mobility.


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