Mobile development and hybrid integration: Key triggers for enterprise digital transformation
Mobile development is growing as a central element of digital transformation. As such, it’s more important than ever to look to mobility solutions to respond to the factors driving enterprises to move to the cloud and integrate their legacy applications into a more digital services-delivery model.
A whitepaper titled “The Urgent Need for Hybrid Integration” outlines five key triggers spurring organizations toward hybrid integration and mobile solutions. Concerns include navigating the space between the cloud and on-premise solutions, equipping your IT staff to manage APIs and meeting the needs of end-user self-service integration.
Here’s a deeper dive into the triggers that will drive dynamic changes that will lead your business into a mobile future:
1. The need to integrate cloud and on-premises applications
The mobile enablement of applications for digital-services delivery should serve as a starting point as you migrate your infrastructure to a public cloud service provider (CSP). When you’re planning to decommission a legacy application and migrate it to the public cloud or replace it with a SaaS application, mobility solutions should be top of mind.
Your new CSP, for example, might have mobile-development tools you can use to open up your cloud applications to mobile users. You can build mobile client apps for the applications you’re migrating to the cloud; likewise, a SaaS provider often has mobile client apps available. Depending on the SaaS platform, apps from third-party developers are also likely to be available for purchase. You can add either SaaS client-app type to your enterprise app store for your employees to download.
2. Mobile development of applications and digital services
The integration of cloud and on-premises applications puts the mobile enablement of applications and digital services at the core of your integration strategy. But going mobile-first to support your move to the cloud means it’s time to re-examine the integration methods and tools you need to have in place.
Your architecture team should determine the level of effort needed to expose data and business logic via secure APIs to the mobile apps you plan to deploy to your workforce — it’s more complicated than integrating a cloud application to your legacy applications and data.
Whether it’s your field-services or sales organization, it’s important to engage your mobile workforce early in the enablement process. You can use them for feedback, gaining insights into how they intend to work with mobile apps, or even test early iterations of the mobile apps you build.
3. The proliferation of REST APIs and the need to manage their life cycles
Representational state transfer — or REST — APIs are foundational to integration and mobile-enablement projects. DevOps and microservices — both popular trends for mobile development — are integral to hybrid integration and cloud development.
Robotic process automation (RPA), which runs microactivities or workflows, is ideal for mobility solutions because it automates tasks that end users formerly had to perform manually. It’s commonly used with REST APIs. Once you automate the appropriate workflows in your legacy application, you can use the smaller real estate of smartphone and tablet screens for only the most important UI features. For example, you can give more screen space to data display, which is important for apps that tie into your back-end business applications.
You can help the proliferation of REST APIs by offering up the technical resources to help document them and then classify them online where your development teams can access them and put in some form of API management.
4. Supporting analytics-driven applications
Advancements in mobile development tools and mobile hardware, combined with the ubiquity of Wi-Fi and better cellular networks are making it possible to equip executives and other stakeholders with mobile access to view business-level analytics. This grants them actionable intelligence to make important decisions anytime, anywhere.
Getting at the data to support your users’ mobile analytics or business-intelligence apps requires new classes of integration tools. Use cases for mobility tools that support analytics-driven applications run the gamut. For example, there’s the field-services engineer who needs to access performance data for a piece of hardware they’ve just installed on a client site; there’s the home healthcare worker who is interested in how her patients are trending or the insurance agent who is concerned with trends in claims data over the last few months. What they all have in common is the need for the actionable insights this technology can deliver.
5. End-user self-service integration
A 2017 Gallup Poll Survey showed that 43 percent of the American workforce works remotely at least part of the week. Those numbers are only bound to rise and drive changes to the way users access back-office applications, analytics, user support and other business services.
When you deploy low-code or no-code development tools, you equip your technically literate business with cloud-friendly capabilities it can use to access the back-end data that it needs. You give users the tools to create mobile apps that while not slick, do provide users with the features necessary to get their jobs done. You can then deploy the apps that these citizen developers create in your enterprise app store.
While digital transformation is a journey, mobile development adds a new level of complexity along with cloud migration and mobile enablement. At the same time, your organization will also have to start treating mobile as a primary interface to your back-end system, so plan for changes there as well. Your organization’s overall success will depend on how well you can prepare to meet the five triggers outlined above.