By: Jagadish Bandhole
 
A mobile transformation is taking place in the enterprise, forcing organizations to examine how their employees, customers and partners experience their business. Success in the mobile era depends on leveraging mobile devices to deliver rich, personalized, relevant experiences for users. But those users experience mobile devices and mobile apps differently than they do the web or their laptop. On top of that, the speed at which businesses need to mobilize tasks and activities far outpaces the availability of skilled resources to build those apps. 
 
The mobile struggle is real. According to Gartner, by the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations' capacity to deliver them. The challenge: how do organizations modernize the mobile experience for their users? And how do they do it strategically and systematically—without blowing the budget? 
 
The mobile era enables us to do things that were never before possible in the desktop world and one that has radically changed our digital behavior. We now have unbounded opportunities to grow revenues, delight customers, be more competitive and gain efficiencies in everyday business processes—all through the power of mobility. But success in the mobile era is very much dependent on how well you leverage mobile devices as a “first-class citizen.” Meaning, mobile is not just an extension of the web—it’s not about slapping a mobile UI onto existing applications. Rather, we have the opportunity now to deliver personalized, contextually-relevant and easy-to-use experiences for end users. 
 
But doing this requires a different approach to your mobile strategy and a different way of approaching how you build or buy your applications. When it comes to meeting your application needs, you typically have four different options:
 

Build your own applications: This path is primarily driven by IT and involves buying a mobile application development platform and allocating resources to design, build, deploy and manage custom apps that meet different business needs. You have full ownership over the process and result and full app customizability. With a platform, you can go a couple different routes:

         Code it: This means using your application development platform
         to custom code your application from scratch. It typically
         involves significant resources--both in terms of time investment
         and expensive developer talent. It can be a lengthy and costly
         process, but you get an application that is totally tailored to
         your needs. The risk is that you invest in custom mobile apps
         that are largely obsolete by the time they come to fruition as
         market needs move faster than your ability to build the apps.
 
         Configure it: With this option, you leverage an application
         development platform to build out applications based on re-usable
         templates. No coding required. This is an excellent option for
         use cases that don’t require custom coding. You get some flexibility
         and customizability in your app, without the time- and developer-
         intensive process of custom coding. In many cases, business units
         can develop apps themselves without assistance from IT.  
 

Buy ready-made applications: This path is primarily driven by lines of business who value speed. It involves buying ready-made cloud-based mobile apps that address a specific need. It provides a fast way to get the apps you need, it’s cost effective and no (or limited) IT resources needed. But you have limited options to customize. And this path is highly dependent on what vendors offer – the currently available apps may not precisely meet your business need. When you choose to buy ready-made apps, you have a couple choices:

         Customizable apps: This involves purchasing an app that can be
         customized in some ways. It often requires some skilled resources
         (either from your vendor or your IT team). But it allows you to
         take a ready-made app that may meet 80% of your needs and tune it
         for your specific use case.
 
         Ready-made apps: The easiest and fastest of the app options, you
         can purchase and start using these apps. These are for use cases
         where low costs and speed are the priorities. Those benefits
         outweigh the fact that the app may not precisely meet all your
         needs.
 
Often, enterprises believe they only have two options—build an app totally from scratch or buy a ready-made app. But the reality is that every enterprise needs a strategy for all four of the application options outlined above. It’s very likely that the vast majority of your application needs can be met with a holistic mobile platform that offers ready-made apps you can buy as well as a platform to build and manage—one that doesn’t require extensive coding knowledge or pricey skilled resources to maintain. 
 
This is not just a mobile application development platform, but a true mobile platform, one that provides ready-to-deploy business apps that are highly configurable and also enables rapid app composition and the ability to build custom mobile and web apps with little to no coding. Only with this strategic and holistic approach will companies be able to realize the full power of the modern mobile enterprise.