The Mobile Application Development Opportunity for CIOs in 2013

“The programming is taking longer than they estimated” *

by John Cullinane

It was 1944 and John Von Neumann, the great mathematician, was using this yet to be infamous excuse to explain to J. Robert Oppenheimer why the necessary computations weren’t available that were needed to get on with the development of the atom bomb. In the ensuing years, nothing changed. The programming always took longer than they estimated. The result was that the software industry had a terrible reputation of over promising and under delivering. In the process, the jobs of many CIOs of the day were put in jeopardy. As a result, CIOs had to find better ways than the traditional programming languages to build applications in order to produce results for their respective companies.

Cullinane Corporation, the company I founded, addressed this need and, in the process, became the first successful software products company in the world. It did so by creating a highly sophisticated application development platform for mainframe computers. It included the full integration of all the components of its high performance IDMS database system with a 4th generation application development tool in order to more easily create on-line applications such as Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP), financial management, purchasing, human resource administration, etc... These were really the first 4th generation applications in that they all “talked” to each other etc. In addition, they were linked to decision support systems, back end databases and PC systems, all representing a major advancement in application development at the time. A dramatic example of success with this approach was Rolls Royce Motor Car. The company’s CIO, with the full backing of his CEO, which was, and is still is, incredibly important in any such project, installed our MRP system to build all of its Rolls Royce and Bentley cars. It was so successful that the CIO was promoted to be in charge of all manufacturing for the company, a huge promotion for him, or any CIO.

What a mobile application development platform for business needs in 2013

Fast forward to 2013 and we find a very similar opportunity and challenge. The mobile device opportunity is huge, and, once again, CIOs are under extreme pressure to create high-performance and, sometimes, very complex applications to give his, or her, company a competitive advantage in a fast moving world. The only problem is that it’s exponentially more difficult to create these applications than it was back in the mainframe days. That’s because there are so many different languages involved. We were dealing with only one. That’s why a CIO needs an integrated mobile application development platform (MADP) to produce the required applications, fast, rather than use all the different languages that are now necessary. It’s the only for the current generation of developers to avoid the “programming is taking longer than they estimated” syndrome.

The MADP should enable the CIO to produce applications, including complex ones, that work across and take advantage of all of the features on all mobile devices, personal computers, the web, and servers. These applications must also be able to access not just one database system, as in our case, but the various back-end databases any company has in a seamless fashion. The platform must also make it possible for the CIO to be able to use staff with a variety of skill levels to build these applications in the most efficient way possible, ideally by simply pointing and clicking, yet also allow those who need to, and have the necessary skills, to exit to a programming language should the need arise. Of course, the resulting applications have to be high performance - reliable, scalable and secure - or they are useless.

So, to me, not much has changed since the Cullinane Corporation and the mainframe days. While, on the surface,  it may appear that the world of the CIO has shifted dramatically, if you look under the hood, much remains the same. The CIO still has to get those applications out, fast; and, they have to work the way a business needs them to work. The only way to do this in a mobile world is with a highly sophisticated and integrated mobile application development platform.

John Cullinane, the founder and CEO of Cullinane Software, is a friend of Alpha Software.

He believes that Alpha Software has the necessary platform for the new PC plus Mobile era and also has a similar commitment to excellence that Cullinane Corporation had.

Cullinane Corporation was the first financially successful software products company in the world. It was also the first to have an IPO and the first to reach a billion dollars in valuation. Cullinane Corporation was also consistently first in industry studies on overall customer satisfaction, support, documentation and training, which is what drove its success.

*Brighter Than a Thousand Suns by Robert Jungk


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About Author

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Chris Conroy

Chris Conroy runs digital programs for Alpha Software.

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