IBM and Apple are introducing the first ten enterprise mobile apps that they've co-developed as part of a partnership announced this summer -- and if you're a mobile app developer you better take notice, because these apps are going to set the bar for enterprise mobile apps far higher than they've ever been before. The just-announced apps are the first of what are expected to be 100.
The enterprise mobile apps are designed for specific industries, , notably airlines, banking, retail and telecommunications, and are targeted at specific tasks. For example, one app for the airline industry will help pilots integrate flight plans and schedules and weather conditions, and send reports to ground crews that can help make in-flight decisions for saving fuel. Another app lets flight crews track the progress of their flight, and to then re-book flights in-flight for travelers who may miss their connections.
The apps make use of IBM's expertise in back-end/front end integration, and Apple's considerable skills in user interface design and ease of use. Overall, they'll do something that has never been done well before: Make enterprise apps as pleasing and easy to use as consumer apps. The apps will have to tap into complex enterprise resources yet make doing that easy to do for the enterprise user.
Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research, a research firm that specializes in mobile computing, explained the change to the New York Times this way: "That rethinking and simplifying is largely not done on enterprise apps."
What It Means To YouApple and IBM aren't the only companies that are focusing on having enterprise apps be as pleasing and simple to use as consumer apps. Thomas Davies, director for Google Enterprise in northern, eastern and central Europe, said to developers at Bloomberg Enterprise Technology Summit earlier this month: "Don't do anything unless it can be used by a billion."
Most likely, he was using a bit of bombast to make a point, because he later explained that enterprise software needs to work more like consumer software. Duncan Angove, president of enterprise-software company Infor, told Bloomberg the same thing, and said that enterprise apps have always been harder to use than consumer apps, but that consumer-oriented developers are starting to change that.
So what does this mean for you?
If you're an enterprise developer, now is great time to start thinking like a consumer developer. And that means taking advantage of the enterprise mobile app opportunity using tools like Alpha Anywhere that make designing those enterprise apps as easy and fast as possible and that meet the key criteria outlined by Gartner.