The most important requirement for developers looking to build mobile apps for business is to be able to effectively combine an understanding of business processes and how people interact with their mobile devices.
That’s according to David Akka, UK MD of cloud and mobile enterprise platform vendor Magic Software (pictured), who told Mobile Apps Briefing that the main challenges for enterprise app developers are related to the difference between desktop and mobile interfaces.
Akka said the real challenge is getting developers to “understand how the application will be used by other people” and what the big differences will be compared to using them on the desktop.
“I think the real issue that we see is that mobile developers are finding it difficult to understand that the whole way you design business applications, and especially processes as a result of that, changes completely. And this is to do with the way we actually use mobile devices rather than how we use desktop,” he said.
Akka gave the example of authorising a purchase order using enterprise resource planning software. On a desktop computer, users will open numerous tabs to check budgets, sales and other relevant information to make the decision. This just isn’t practical when trying to carry out the same processes on mobile devices.
“When you’re on a mobile device you’re usually outside your business context, you’re on the go – your attention span is very short. So the ability to bring all the information that is required into the screen at the same time when a request comes [is more important],” Akka explained.
He suggested that good mobile business apps need to very quickly bring information from back end services and allow users to “interact in a better and faster way,” requiring developers to “re-engineer” business processes.
He added that mobile business app developers should also consider how functionality specific to mobile devices – such as cameras, GPS and contactless communication – can be incorporated into their business products.
However, Akka admitted there are some technical challenges for developers moving into mobile from the desktop world, such as building apps to work offline, on small screens and using relatively weak processors. However, these can be easily solved. “The technology challenges are there and you can send a developer to a course and he can learn,” Akka said.