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Rapid Mobile App Development Tools

Rapid Mobile App Development Tools Will Empower Citizen Developers to Quickly Build Sophisticated Business Apps While Allowing IT to Maintain Some Control

The creation of mobile and web business apps by citizen developers using rapid mobile app development products is exploding.  Forrester Research projects the market for such citizen developer rapid mobile app development tools (a.k.a., mobile no-code/low-code platforms) to be some $3 billion by 2020. Similarly, Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than half of all business apps will be created by citizen developers using rapid mobile app development tools.

While coding, programming languages and traditional development processes will continue to have value for enterprises, Companies must move to agile development techniques to speed the mobilization of business processes and remain competitive. Fast, innovative mobile and web applications that work on any mobile device will also help companies respond to customer, partner, and field organization demands in a mobile world. Companies are now considering low-code platforms and drag and drop software and moving away from native apps.

Rapid mobile app development platforms allow non-technical users, at the technical level of an Excel or PowerPoint user, to create sophisticated mobile and web apps for a fraction of the time and cost of traditional native development or tedious mobile app development platforms (MADP).  The best rapid mobile app development tools:

    • empower citizen developers to craft mobile and web apps, while still giving seasoned developers a low code environment to meet enterprise requirements (such as security, data integration, etc.), when needed.
    • meet user needs with offline apps that work with or without a connection..
    • can easily integrate with corporate data sources, common enterprise databases, SaaS applications, and REST services.
I recently wrote about the enterprise trend to empower citizen developers with rapid mobile app development platforms in the DZone article, "Are Citizen Developers the Future of Mobile?" and in the Alpha Software white paper, "Democratize Mobile and Web App Software Development."

Some examples of Rapid Mobile App Development Apps Created by Citizen Developers

Below are two examples of business apps built by citizen developers using rapid mobile app development products:

    • Oxford Instruments tasked Superconducting Technology Business Analyst Sagrika Mehta with developing a solution that would let the company’s semiconductor shop floor workers reliably manage preventive action efforts in the manufacturing process directly from their tablets.
      Using the Alpha Anywhere rapid application development platform, she was able to prototype three critical forms in just 2 days.  Only 30 days later Mehta had built, tested, and deployed the full preventative action app, beating the business deadline. The RMAD app is now helping workers to identify and correct manufacturing issues faster than ever before.
    • DAIKIN/Goodman Territory Sales Manager Daniel Santucci needed to help contractors selling the company's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products, while better tracking leads and sales. Using the Alpha Anywhere rapid app development platform, Santucci was able to build an app that ran on any mobile platform with an outstanding user interface in a month's time to help his contractors better track and fulfill sales.
      He also built a web app so Goodman executives could tap into enterprise sales information. Goodman provides the mobile app for free to its partner contractors in the field who fix or install HVAC systems. The app helped Goodman generate and retain business tenfold because it provided independent contractors with a free solution that helps them grow and manage their own businesses. Santucci was promoted to Division Pricing Director, in part due to his success mobilizing the sales organization.
    • Fast Mirror founder John Azzara Azzara wanted to use his extensive leadership experience in human resources to build a self-service Software as a Service (Saas) solution that would help human resources organizations address some of the challenges they are currently facing with performance feedback and professional development. 
      He built the Fast Mirror subscription service by himself, including the SaaS framework and the capability to utilize API's of existing platforms to integrate information into his SaaS solution. He finished the work in half the time a competing product would have taken.
These citizen developers were able to build sophisticated mobile and web apps without hiring outside mobile app developers. Because of the richness of the rapid mobile app development product they selected, they were able to leverage built-in security, data integration, and offline capabilities, along with rich user experiences.

A Look at Rapid Mobile App Development Tools by Gartner

In a past blog, we highlighted key points from Gartner's Market Guide for Rapid Mobile App Development Tools. The report seeks to help enterprise buyers understand the key considerations when evaluating rapid mobile app development products and the differences between some of the leaders in the market. In the report, Gartner analysts introduce rapid mobile app development as a new approach that can help a wider range of business users develop mobile apps:
“Mobile app development is not just for coders and programmers. The growth of the RMAD market shows the pent-up demand for ‘coding-optional’ tools to build apps quickly and cost-effectively. Application development leaders should use this research to select tools that offer immediate business value.”
Gartner analysts further explain,
“Rapid mobile app development (RMAD) capabilities can range from creating simple, stand-alone mobile-only apps to sophisticated transactional apps with integration to enterprise data and workflows.”
The report offers a comprehensive analysis of the rapid mobile app development market, including comparisons of product capabilities and functionality for vendors in the RMAD market. In the analysis, Alpha Anywhere emerges as one of the most robust products evaluated; it is one of only a few vendors that meet ALL of Gartner’s criteria of popular app features in a rapid mobile app development tool:
Source: Gartner Market Guide for Rapid Mobile App Development Tools (2016)

Source: Gartner Market Guide for Rapid Mobile App Development Tools (2016)

In reviewing Alpha Software's rapid mobile and web development tools for this report, Gartner analysts give Alpha Anywhere credit for:

    • Use of Cordova versus a named container, which many of the vendors on this list employ. Alpha prides itself on being a standards-based, open architecture and the report reflects this strength.
    • Allowing custom coding/editing, and generating editable code that enables users to build a basic business app and also add customized code at any point. This flexibility, a key tenant of Alpha Anywhere, is becoming an increasingly important enterprise criterion.
    • Having on-premise deployment.  While cloud offerings are a strength of Alpha Software, the company also remains focused on, on-premise deployment, which is important to large enterprises with complex legacy systems.
    • Extensive training, mentoring and partner delivery options to fit a range of customer needs.  Many other vendors in the market do not have offerings in this area, which are so important to quickly getting a wide range of employees proficient on a platform.

The RMAD Market Guide has been a very popular read with Gartner clients and readership is on par with that of the Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADP) Magic Quadrant, in which Alpha Anywhere was recognized for enterprise integration and rich client-side workflow. Due to heavy client interest in RMAD market trends and vendors, Gartner plans many more reports on replacing native application development with cross-platform mobile app development. Jason Wong will be attending this year’s Alpha DevCon in Danvers, MA. 

Gartner clients can download the full Market Guide for Rapid Mobile Application Development Tools report.

Read more details about why Alpha Anywhere stands out in the market as an RMAD platform.

Read the full Gartner Market Guide to Rapid Mobile App Development (published in 2016).Compare how Gartner viewed the Rapid Mobile App Development market as it initially emerged and what's changed since then.

Learn more about what Rapid Mobile App Development without limits can deliver to your team.

Read Mobile Advertising Watch's recent story: "Alpha Software Delivers Offline Capable Rapid Mobile App Development and Deployment with No Limits to the Enterprise.

Try a powerful mobile app builder for free.

Teach employees to become a citizen developers.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.