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Enterprise mobile application development: A CIO strategy guide

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Q

How should CIOs evolve the development culture to suit mobile app dev?

In this Ask the Expert, Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond tackles how to redirect the development culture to support mobile application development.

I tell organizations you need to design a development culture that can really deliver eight to 12 application releases...

a year per platform. If you start with that and say, "Well, how do we build an organization that does that?" you start to get into things like Agile development techniques, which require disciplined developers that have a certain degree of autonomy and the capability to act based on what they observe.

That will lead you to hire people that have cross-functional skills; people who can do test-driven development as well as write code; people who understand the importance of employing an application using consistent principles that can get you into things like continuous deployment and DevOps practices. With that mentality in place, you very quickly start to understand there is no way you can test an application across the 100 different versions of Android on different devices and different carriers. You have to instrument your application with analytics and then very quickly look at the technical crashes or problems that the application has in the deployment world. Maybe only test on a few hero devices, like a couple of Samsung devices and the current version of iOS devices. This moves the team toward quick recovery, high velocity and data-driven decision making. Those are some of the most important principles of evolving your development culture, and if you do that, then you'll find you get into the cycle of virtuous improvement.

Jeffrey Hammond is a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research's application development and delivery group. He is a software development veteran with more than 20 years of experience in development, product management and strategy roles, and is an expert in the areas of mobile development, modern application architecture and application lifecycle management. Contact him through his blogor on Twitter

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This was last published in August 2014

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Essential Guide

Enterprise mobile application development: A CIO strategy guide

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Is the development culture the biggest bottleneck for mobile app deployment?
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I don't think it's the development culture itself, but a clearer understanding of what we want to have mobile devices do. In many ways, the move to mobile also shows a move to consumption of data and small, focused uses of that data rather than the wholesale creation of data, which is much more the traditional focus of desktop apps. The content creation that is done tends to be of a much shorter duration and focus. Recognizing this, I think, is key to successful movement into mobile development.
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I think one way to look at expanding mobile app culture, is to not just push mobile apps, but push ideas like Service Oriented Architectures, segmenting presentation from API under pinning, and then begin to grow into various Mobile App marketplaces.  
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the most important aspect, at least to me, is to understand what the goals and benefits are to mobile users, and how those goals and limitations of the mediums affect what they do. Modeling a desktop app and putting it into a smaller interface and calling it mobile is not going to cut it for most people. Recognizing what is vital, and trimming away aspects that don't matter is of key importance.
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