Platform thinking in enterprise mobile development goes beyond the code

by: | Jul 25, 2018

Many IT departments today face a growing mountain of technology requests. This includes increasing demand from their workforce and executives to build mobile apps that help people do their jobs better.

In many cases, the problem isn’t simply a lack of time, resources or budget — it’s the approach. More specifically, it’s the lack of platform thinking.

In our latest ebook, “5 ingredients for a successful mobile center of excellence,” we address the opportunity that today’s companies have to build a suite of applications for the workforce — and how platform thinking can help unlock the ability to build apps at scale.

5 ingredients for a successful mobile center of excellence

Using platform thinking in everything

Building well-designed, high-performing mobile apps is not easy. Especially in an enterprise. Because, unlike consumer apps, where a popular single application can work beautifully for millions of users, enterprise mobile apps are usually specific to people’s roles — or at the very least their department or team. Different enterprise roles or lines of business require apps that provide different experiences.

So, to truly mobilize the workforce, apps must be built and managed at scale. And if you want to build an enterprise mobile app development program that can scale, you need to apply platform thinking with everything you do.

In its look at technology trends for 2018, Deloitte introduces this concept in the “API imperative.”
“Companies are architecting and designing their technology as discrete sets of digital building blocks intended to be reused,” Deloitte writes.

These building blocks can save your team an enormous amount of time over the long haul (especially if you’re developing with a multi-platform app development framework like our Xamarin developers use). But applying platform thinking is much more than just the reusable code that powers your applications.

These building blocks might include:

  • Development methodology (e.g. strategy/business case process)
  • Team structure, roles and responsibilities
  • Code base (e.g. APIs, libraries, common features, code standards)
  • Design templates (user example flows, UI samples, symbols, common icons library)
  • Corporate style/branding guidelines
  • App development process (e.g. a DevOps approach to mobile app development)
  • App development and QA testing tools (i.e. your mobile “stack”)

The benefits of platform thinking go beyond simple time savings (though that is certainly an important gain). You’ll find these additional benefits:

  • With each new project, a team optimizes its work by leveraging what has already been built — freeing up more time and focus to develop new features and functionality.
  • The quality and performance of your applications improves as the code base, tools and process mature over many iterations.
  • Your platform’s inventory of components becomes institutional knowledge, ensuring quality and consistency even as employees come and go.
  • Because they are derived from a platform, applications are more cohesive, and deliver a similar look and feel and common functionality for a more intuitive user experience.
  • The burden on QA testing for each app is reduced with features and code that are reused.
  • The maintenance of a suite of related applications over its lifecycle is much simpler than managing apps built using disparate technology and techniques.

Mobile 2.0: Building software to truly mobilize the workforce

Mobile technology has advanced and improved so much that taking a platform approach to enterprise mobile development is possible today in a way it wasn’t even just a few years ago. The mobile enterprise application market is expected to be worth $98 billion by 2021, according to data compiled by Research and Markets.

If you’re going to invest your company’s time and resources into building mobile apps for employees, you’ll get the most return by applying platform thinking with everything you do. That’s a great start to building a mobile center of excellence that can truly mobilize today’s workforce.

And, of course, ArcTouch can help, too. We’ve helped world-class brands and Fortune 500 companies build great apps for their employees, partners and consumers for the past decade. If you’d like more advice on building mobile apps at scale for your workforce, contact us for a free phone consultation.