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Custom Software Development Vs. Free Consumer Apps in the Workplace

Businesses should always be looking to cut costs, but avoiding custom software development in leu of free consumer apps is not the best route.  Some organizations may think that allowing their workers to bring their own applications into the office is an easy way to save on software procurement costs. According to TMCnet contributor Rory Thompson, however, you’re generally at risk of getting exactly what you pay for – nothing. Free, consumer apps often come from questionable sources and are not as powerful as enterprise-geared apps.

This is why it’s important for businesses to invest in custom software development. Companies can’t get the most out of employee devices if the programs that inhabit them are of an inferior quality. The best way to avoid this is to be involved in the design process of a new application that is built specifically for the organization that plans on using it.

A hands-on approach is the best way to go
According to TechRepublic contributor Will Kelly, mobile app usage in the workplace can be “risky.” But this is only true when best practices are not applied. Flexera Software VP Maureen Polte told Kelly in an interview that companies must “take a comprehensive approach” when managing an app’s lifecycle in order to succeed.

“Start with a consistent Application Readiness process that enables a standard procedure for getting all applications, regardless of format, tested, authorized and ready for deployment,” Polte stated. “Additionally, enterprises can control distribution and provide governance of applications by directing employees to an enterprise app store where they can download corporate approved mobile apps to their devices.”

This is critical to keep in mind when planning change around the company. Failing to understand what solutions are being put into place – approved or otherwise – will negate any of the benefits that are supposed to be unlocked.

Meaningful strategy is key
There has been a lot of talk about “the workplace of tomorrow.” More people are finding that it is possible to meet goals in new, streamlined and simplified ways thanks to mobile technology. But for businesses to harness this power, it means there will need to be a clear idea put into place of where new assets will be able to take professionals.

“Without strategy, organizations may develop workspaces with what may be excellent technology, hoping it will fix all their problems, but which will result in spectacular failures,” wrote Network​ World contributor David Danto. “These failures are usually not because the technology was ‘bad,’ but rather because it did not fit in with their actual needs (which they never took the time to properly discover).”

This means that companies have to not only provide a single tool for everyone’s use, but they also have to keep the needs of employees in mind when they do so. Nothing can stall a deployment faster than a program that doesn’t meet the needs of the workers.

The only way to accomplish this is to invest in custom software development for the organization. Having customized tools in place will allow workers to get the most out of their devices.

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Enterprise mobility in 2015

What does it mean to be mobile? This is not a very easy question for enterprises to answer. Workplaces have, for several years now, been at odds with employee devices. Should they be embraced or shunned? Allowed or actually supported? It has become increasingly clear that not only isn’t there anything stopping professionals from bringing their own smartphones, tablets and laptops into the office, but companies need to figure out how these tools fit into the overall picture of daily operations.

We’re only a little way into 2015 this point, and it’s expected that this year will be make or break for a significant number of businesses that haven’t yet gotten a handle on mobility. Accepting mobile devices in the workplace is one thing, but embracing them is another strategy entirely.

Challenges expected in the year ahead
Of course, mobile devices are a relatively new phenomenon. While cellphones have been around for quite some time, the smartphone has only been in the public eye within the last eight years or so. People seemed to quickly realize that their new tools had clear worth as professional assets and started using them in the office – something that IT teams were not prepared for, according to IT News Africa contributor Brendan Mc Aravey.

“When a business leader talks about ramping up an offshore workforce overnight, or providing access to a bank’s financial systems from iPads in the hands of roaming employees, or attracting top talent with a more consumer-style work experience, they should be able to take it for granted that the answer from IT will be ‘yes,'” Mc Aravey wrote. “But most organizations aren’t quite there yet.”

One of the biggest obstacles keeping enterprise IT back is security. According to Mc Aravey, things were a lot simpler when IT controlled every aspect of the devices that other employees used around the office. But now that staffers are using one device for both their personal and professional needs, management has gotten a little more complicated. Enterprises need to make sure that they are invested in mobile strategies that are aware of the need for separation between what the company owns and what’s none of its business.

Innovation must be front of mind
Mobility has something to offer every enterprise. The biggest question to answer here is how could an application streamline an existing process or practice? Smartphones have created a level of convenience never thought possible. The key to success is capitalizing off the improved user experiences that are possible through mobile interfaces.

This extends past new applications and means focusing on existing ones, as well. According to Information Age contributor Ben Rossi, part of the struggle with mobility comes from trying to look forward without losing sight of legacy programs. Chances are, software that’s currently in use is going to need some serious updates so that it can be most useful to the modern workforce.

“Mobile application platforms act as a conduit that can connect massive enterprise datasets directly to users, improving employee productivity and enriching the customer experience,” Rossi wrote. “However, most enterprise back-end systems were never designed to connect to mobile devices in this way.”

This is one of the biggest issues that companies will need to face in 2015. It will be important to make sure that existing assets are updated in ways that will allow them to be useful in the modern world.

Software investments will make all the difference
At the end of the day, most people in any given office are already going to have a device that they can use for work. The secret is finding the right mix of software that will help to maximize their effectiveness. Generally, these solutions are not going to be found ready-made, but must be built around the companies that need them.

Custom software solutions are the only way to go for mobile enterprises. Decision-makers have to understand that the definition of secure, useful programs is not the same in every instance. It will take a lot of planning and strategizing to ensure that custom software development is applied in the ways that make the most sense for a company that has its eye on success.

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Enabling mobility can encourage employees to work

Modern culture is defined by mobility. It seems like everyone is constantly using their personal devices for something – be it personal or professional tasks. In the case of the latter, it could be that an employee is using an app that hasn’t been approved for use within the enterprise. This can be a problem – consumer software rarely has the same kind of development behind it that business-class programs do.

But the issue in itself is not mobility. In fact, mobility needs to be embraced within companies. Because workers are so invested in their smartphones and tablets and are willing to use them to complete tasks, they are likely to increase their productivity if presented with the means to do so in an approved manner.

“All joking aside, it’s obvious that today’s workers have had a massive increase in screen time,” wrote TMCnet contributor Tara Seals. “Often this is tied to the availability of mobile productivity applications and the rise of the cloud – more and more, the smartphone-based use of business unified communications apps, email and VoIP all allow users to get work done cost-effectively while on the go.”

By supplying employees with custom software solutions, businesses can increase productivity and job satisfaction in incredible new ways. Enterprises have to invest in apps that meet the changing needs of both their data and staffers.

Applications usage up in 2014
The coming year is likely to be huge for mobility. A number of new devices are on the horizon, and more people are discovering just what they can accomplish with mobile software. According to a recent study conducted by Flurry, app usage increased by a staggering 76 percent in 2014, and growth trends show no signs of slowing.

“In 2014, Flurry Analytics tracked 2.079 trillion sessions – a mind-boggling number,” Flurry stated in a release. “On December 31 we set another daily session record with 8.5 billion sessions as people celebrated the approaching New Year chatting, sharing, looking for rides, and navigating New Year’s Eve.”

It’s likely that those same people using apps in personal situations are also experienced in using them for work, even for something as innocuous as checking email. Smartphone users are eager to leverage their devices at work if it means meeting goals faster and more efficiently. This kind of attitude needs to be capitalized on in 2015.

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Custom software helps businesses succeed

Enterprise mobility is a series of moving parts. The devices themselves might be a focal point for many people, but it is critical to consider software and systems, as well.

According to Business Spectator contributor James Wooster, one of the biggest hurdles in enterprise mobility initiatives is figuring out how best to marry legacy environments and modern tools.

“On one hand, establishing seamless and secure integration with back-end systems is crucial to leveraging existing investments and avoiding building new IT silos,” Wooster wrote. “On the other hand, due to their complexity, such projects may quickly become big cost drivers. The key to driving cost efficiency is to provide an end-to-end solution for building cross-platform enterprise mobile apps, which are tightly integrated with the existing infrastructure.”

The most effective way to accomplish this is through custom software development. Integrating is difficult enough without having to deal with a program that might not be able to meet every need an organization has. Creating applications that are designed for the company that will be using them is a key component of success.

‘Made for mobile’ a clear winner
It should be noted that just because software is custom, however, doesn’t make it effective for the modern office. Existing solutions may not be “made for mobile,” according to CloudTweaks contributor Andronikos Nedos. This may involve implementing the cloud in order to make sure that apps are as agile and flexible as possible.

But selecting a prepackaged solution is not as convenient as it might sound. It’s important for organizations to invest in custom mobile app development. These kinds of programs are better suited for the companies that are planning to leverage them and lack some of the broad development strokes that other applications might have been built with.

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Applications are key to enterprise mobility

While devices themselves play an important role in enterprise mobility, they are not the focus anymore. It is generally understood that one of two kinds of smartphones will enter the workplace and businesses don’t have to provide them like they used to. Professionals, in turn, need to be supported with effective applications that are designed specifically for the organization in question.

“The last 12 months in enterprise mobility have been fascinating,” wrote AppsTechNews contributor James Bourne. “BYOD has become increasingly entrenched in organizational policy, yet there are still – rightly – security concerns, with the source of blame not pointed so much at malware and hackers, but employees mislaying data through error or ignorance.”

This is prevented by making sure that the right programs are in place for use by staffers. The best solution for the job, however, is going to vary by company. This is why custom software development will be so critical to success in the coming year.

Enterprises trying to increase productivity
According to Computer Weekly contributor Alex Scroxton, recent research shows that the main reason for enterprise mobility software investments is a desire to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. The Enterprise Mobility Exchange found that 70 percent of business buyers have sought out applications for this very reason.

Modern professionals understand how smartphones can streamline their daily tasks. There is an incredible amount of productivity that can be unlocked through these devices, but it is only possible with software that improves the user experience in some way.

Custom mobile app development has to be capable of producing programs that live up to the expectations of the people that will be using it. Unless enterprise software has business professionals in mind from the get-go, it is not likely to succeed.

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Enterprise Mobility takes center stage in 2015

Enterprise Mobility

It should be no surprise that mobility is of vital importance to enterprise. Regardless of if an application is customer- or employee-facing in nature, it is essential to develop effective applications that help to streamline the user experience.

With this in mind, the next year is going to be a make or break moment for many companies that have yet to deploy custom software solutions. According to Insurance Networking contributor Beth Bacheldor, it will be an especially big deal for professionals to be supplied with effective mobile apps.

“The ‘mobility mismatch’ between employers and employees will persist, even as enterprise IT departments become more accustomed to consumerization,” she said, citing a recent report from the researchers at Ovum. “For example, the rate of BYOD behavior continues to grow, but it is not being embraced by IT at nearly the same rate.”

Enterprises need to get serious in 2015 about mobility if they have not already. Now that more people understand what is possible to accomplish with their smartphones and tablets, they expect to be supported as employees and patrons by the organizations they interact with. The only way to accomplish this effectively will be to invest in custom software development.

Wearables will need to be considered
With the holiday season approaching fast, it’s likely that a great deal of people will be getting wearable devices as gifts this year. There has been a significant amount of excitement built up around these tools in the consumer sphere, and businesses are going to need to figure out how best to embrace them.

But while a great deal of adoptions will likely come in personal forms, wearables will find their most practical uses in the workplace.

“If 2014 was the year wearable technologies learned to walk, then 2015 is the year they’ll run,” wrote InformationWeek contributor Shane O’Neill. “And it’s inside the enterprise where wearables will pick up speed.”

O’Neill cites recent research from Forrester regarding the level of focus that organizations are planning to have on wearables in the coming year. Worldwide, 68 percent of companies view wearables as “a priority”. More than half of respondents that fell into this category went so far as to classify it as a “moderate, high or critical priority.”

These are the businesses that will help to set the tone in the new year. Wearables are expected to follow a much similar path that smartphones did, and being prepared this time around will help to circumvent many of the headaches that came with the first wave of IT consumerization. This will mean building wearable considerations into existing or impending custom mobile app development strategies.

2015 will be a proving ground
It’s hard to imagine a lack of mobile support being acceptable in a year’s time. This means that 2015 may be the last possible moment to get with the times and enable proper applications for consumers and employees. This will, on one level, mean making sure that wearables are a serious consideration.

But regardless of what the task or who the audience is, it will be essential to have custom software solutions that are built for the company in question.

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Resolve for enterprise mobility in the new year

Businesses are already expected to have an interesting 2015. The rise of mobile devices in the workplace has totally redefined enterprise operations, and the coming year is anticipated to be a proving ground for organizations that have yet to figure out just how best to embrace change.

Enterprise Mobility

“Despite the fact that the iPhone was first released in 2007, and virtually every employee today carries a smartphone, many companies have only scratched the surface of mobile app development,” wrote TechCrunch contributor Ron Miller. “Big businesses with big bucks still often crudely force enterprise applications into a mobile package with little thought. Fewer still have developed imaginative custom apps that take advantage of the device, or designed a coherent mobile strategy for the organization.”

Software-fueled innovation is going to be critical in 2015. Businesses need to examine their operations and find ways in which software can be developed to streamline common practices. This will generally require an investment in custom software development, as pre-constructed solutions are rarely able to consider the nuances of individual offices.

Mobile applications on the rise
According to IT-Online, recent research shows that the new year will be loaded with enterprise mobility resolutions. A study conducted by IDC found that at least 25 percent of software budgets within any given organization will be allocated for mobile development specifically. Much of this has to do with the agility that smartphone and tablet apps can provide for the companies that use them. Decision-makers are beginning to understand that the key to success in the mobile age is not reliant on allowing personal devices in the workplace, but outfitting them with the right programs for the job.

New Year’s is the perfect time to step back and evaluate what need to happen in order to stay ahead of the competition. In 2015, this will mean seeking out custom mobile app development.

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