Mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) vendors give organizations the opportunity to enter the mobile space by providing the capabilities to develop native-like applications through a code-once-and-deploy-everywhere approach without the need for comprehensive technical expertise of the target mobile platform.
Before deciding on a MEAP tool, you must make a decision about the composition of your application portfolio. Will you use a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution, a custom-developed solution, or a hybrid portfolio? Info-Tech recommends buy before you build, configure before you customize, and loosely couple your applications if you need to customize. A number of key factors should be considered in this decision:
Mobile applications bring new development and management challenges that are often difficult for organizations that are tied to legacy systems, hindered by rigid and slow development lifecycles, and unable to adopt leading-edge technologies. Many of these challenges stem from the fact that mobile development is a significant shift from desktop development:
Organizations have three general options to mobile development, each coming with its own pros and cons:
Selecting the right mobile platform is critical to ensure it aligns with your business and functional requirements, end-user needs, and the organization’s technical competencies. Factor the following items in your mobile platform selection discussion:
MEAP tools help solve the conundrum of mobile device and platform fragmentation by providing solutions that allow developers to code once and deploy to multiple mobile platforms. These tools fall within the hybrid platform space. Each vendor will approach mobile development a little differently, whether in the features they offer, the framework they utilize, or the language they use for development. There are two types of MEAP tools:
Two risks need to be accommodated in a MEAP tool’s implementation:
MEAP tools provide the needed development capabilities to enable developers the ability to easily create and deliver mobile applications. Today’s MEAP tools have several common attributes and core features:
In addition to the core features, MEAP vendors will incorporate a number of advanced features to support the full software development lifecycle and application management, and differentiate themselves from one another:
See our Implement a Proactive and Consistent Vendor Selection Process blueprint for more information about procurement best practices (including RFP templates).
MEAP tools give organizations the ability to enter the native mobile application space without the need to invest in the specific competencies and tools that are required to develop in each desired mobile OS. Despite the value of MEAP tools, sufficient investments are needed to ensure teams are properly trained and prepared to handle mobile development. Make a conscious decision if hybrid or native applications are worth the cost or a mobile web application is good enough.
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