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The present and future of building mobile apps

For organizations readying themselves for the future of mobile app development, context and an Agile mind-set are key. In this #CIOChat recap, tweet jammers exchanged ideas on how to prepare for the evolution of user needs.

Research by IDC shows that the number of worldwide mobile workers will reach more than 1.3 billion by 2015. In the face of this mobile reality, many companies will have to change their application development processes. According to Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond, this entails interacting with users more intimately, gathering data insight from users' location, habits and activities in order to provide them with a seamless and natural user experience (UX).

Fleshing out context by focusing on UX was also the resounding piece of advice tweeted by participants in SearchCIO's latest #CIOChat on building mobile apps. In this tweet chat recap, in which mobility consultant and frequent columnist Bryan Barringer shared his expertise, find out what followers had to say about having an Agile mentality, hiring the right people, implementing solid APIs and keeping an eye on evolving user needs.

What is the future of mobile application development?

SearchCIO asked participants for advice on how to develop stellar mobile apps while also staying cognizant of the future of this fast-moving field. To keep up, urged Barringer, businesses should abandon the client-server mind-set of an era ago, as enterprises' application architectures change and focus more on user experience. In other words, they must adjust the very way in which they approach mobile app design and development:

Companies and CIOs must also staff their teams with the right blend of young IT talent and knowledgeable resident developers. While the race to hire innovative, skilled developers has gotten more competitive, it's equally important to retain, retrain and re-inspire older employees who have deeper knowledge of core systems and processes, as IT staffing expert Melisa Bockrath told SearchCIO Executive Editor Linda Tucci: "As CIOs are deploying new technologies, they must be retraining their existing resources and keeping them challenged."

Barringer highlighted the same point, adding that it's also important to hire developers with Agile skill sets:

Revamping your organization to keep up with the speed of mobile app dev should start with fleshing out the IT team with disciplined, nimble-minded developers, according to Hammond. "I tell organizations you need to design a development culture that can really deliver eight to 12 application releases a year per platform," he said.

Tweet chatter Dan Bricklin agreed that an iterative mentality is key to keeping up with quickly evolving user requirements:

Good mobile apps of the future, many chatters postulated, will focus not just on engaging users through context awareness, but also on marketing and providing more targeted services through better data-collection and analysis efforts:

"A good mobile app will analyze your immediate context before displaying content or asking you to take any action," explained Forrester analysts Clay Richardson and Simon Yates in a SearchCIO tip. Context is what ultimately allows apps to transform user processes and enable them to be more efficient, they said.

Another way to offer users a coherent mobile experience? Using APIs that allow for partnerships with other businesses and service providers -- or as Bobby Lo, CEO of startup Vurb, put it in a recent Data Mill, "contextual bridges across services." Shappir also sounded off on the possibilities of leveraging APIs:

How about you -- how are you planning ahead for your mobile app strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.

This tweet recap is part of our #CIOChat on mobile app development, hosted by SearchCIO. For more recaps or further information on our next tweet jam, follow @SearchCIO on Twitter.

Next Steps

Get resources on enterprise mobile app development in this CIO Briefings guide. Then, go in-depth on the future of mobile personalization.

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How do you keep your mobile app development team Agile?
I think the very nature of mobile app development requires Agile - requirements are fluid and things change fast. So our developers are prepared for that.
There is interest in mobile development in a sense of new applications. What seems to be happening quietly in the background is porting of applications from older technologies (client/server, single user) to the mobile environments. We see this in Microsoft products which essentially run today's crucial business world. If you are interested, take a look at Gizmox Transposition. It is a great new technology to modernize Microsoft developed applications (VB6, ASP) to mobile.