Mobile Strategy Elements 
Published: Oct-21-11
If your organization is anything like mine, balancing your users’ enthusiasm for hot, new technologies with your sponsors’ budgets is an ongoing challenge. Mobile apps are no exception here. Users want a line of business application capabilities on their Smartphones, however business cases centered on convenience and cool technology don’t often get green-lighted.
I’m Chris Crawford, responsible for our employee Social Collaboration, Knowledge Management, Search and intranet Portal here at Accenture. One of my architecture roles within Accenture’s internal IT department is guiding mobile development strategies for our internal use. To be clear, we have a lot of great thinking at Accenture to help clients with their own mobile strategies. With this blog, I’m only talking about what we’re doing internally at Accenture.
I find I’m recommending to more project teams that they look first to meet their mobile needs with mobile-aware web pages. This is certainly not the “cool tech” answer that gets people excited, but there are many advantages for my situation:
  1. We have no standard handheld. Rather, we have every device, OS and version of OS imaginable.
  2. Nearly all our line of business apps are already deployed as web pages over https.
  3. We manage operations costs aggressively. Maintaining multiple versions of thick apps, at a time when new mobile OS versions come out at least once per year, is looking like an expensive proposition.
  4. I get to leverage my existing team skills to develop the capabilities.
  5. We avoid deployment issues for new (or updated) applications.

Of course, there are down-sides to this approach.

  1. Web apps don’t have the sizzle of a thick app. They’re not as visible to the user (no push notifications) and usually not as rich.
  2. Access to hardware features: camera, GPS, storage, etc. can be hit-or-miss… usually miss.
  3. Offline? Out of luck.

I’m really excited about what’s coming with the newer, non-proprietary technologies based on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. We’ve started test projects with PhoneGap, and are tracking the ongoing developments with the WebAPI group. Until then, when sponsors demand a thick mobile app, we make sure they’re aware of the risks and benefits outlined above, and we use sound architectural layering to isolate the mobile presentation layer(s) from the underlying business capability.

John: We also have blackberry and Win Phone 7, but they are lower volume. We have created iOS apps, but the first comments back weren't "nice app" but rather "where's the Android version?" and "Are you going to do an iPad specific app?" But yes: starting with the most common platform in your org and checking take-up is a reasonable way to start if you must have a thick app.
Chris Crawford   |   Nov-17-11   |  08:21 AM
Wouldn't you really only have to build and deploy your app for iOS and Android? You could probably even standardize on iOS,and allow your employees to weigh whether or not they need access to the app.
John Riley   |   Nov-06-11   |  02:15 PM

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