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Why a business services framework may be the solution for mobile app development.


Companies developing mobile applications are faced with a challenge: apps continue to grow in feature complexity at the same time as budgets are decreasing.
This need to "do more with less" is true for many companies in many industries. But organizations developing for mobile may have a silver bullet at their disposal: a method of developing software applications as a suite of independently deployable, small, modular services that serve a particular business goal. This kind of business services architecture has become very popular in the development of enterprise and web applications and, thanks to its scalability, is increasingly coming to prominence in mobile.

Changing expectations

Tomorrow’s landscape of mobile applications is likely to be very different from today’s. Users increasingly want access to business applications via mobile-optimized apps that are easy to use and available anytime, anywhere.

Meeting these evolving needs can put tremendous pressure on an organization. Enterprises need to make sure they’re using the most up-to-date architecture, and should consider the following "realities" of developing mobile apps now and in the future.

Liquid applications

"Monolithic" applications are no longer acceptable. Today’s agile world demands a "liquid" architecture that promotes reusability, scalability and maintainability. A business services architecture that encapsulates services as independent, reusable blocks can help to ensure easy app maintenance and scalability.

Intelligent applications

The explosion in the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), coupled with the need to provide contextual information to consumers, means applications need to be intelligent. Successful apps are now powered by insights driven by in-app analytics, API monitoring tools, social media analytics, and analytics from other sources within an enterprise.

Connected applications

End users have become accustomed to hyper-connected applications which support them from beginning to end in achieving what they want to do in their everyday lives. Meeting these expectations means having the ability to connect different services delivered by different providers.

High performance applications

Mobile devices are often connected via "lossy" low-speed connections. This makes minimizing the payload required to render a device’s screen important. Creating a "containerized business service" to act as a unified mobile API, which returns data from many sources in a single API call, could be a more prudent option.

Containerized business services

To address these realities, a business-features-as-a-service (BFaaS) approach is needed. The kind of architecture abstracts front-end development from the underlying middleware that aggregates services originating from different sources. A BFaaS layer should have the following characteristics:

Shield the front end from the back end

Many enterprises have upgraded their front-end digital experiences over recent years, redesigning their apps and websites to improve usability and functionality. But digital business transformation requires more extensive changes to back-end systems and platforms (such as enterprise software, CRM systems, sales and categorization engines). A BFaaS layer should shield front-end developers from this complexity.

Plug-and-play configurable services

A BFaaS layer should provide a capacity to configure services according to each particular mobile solution that needs to be supported, including changes in input parameters and response. It should also support an ability to configure back-end sources that capture intelligence to power business services.

Capture the right micro-moments

Smartphones have dramatically changed day-to-day life for millions, perhaps billions, of people. Providing the best possible end-user experience means capturing the "micro-moments" in each user journey that can provide contextual information to understand customer needs and deliver a rich user experience. A BFaaS layer should therefore be able to integrate with any number of analytics systems.


Using a BFaaS layer in a DevOps environment means development teams can work on loosely coupled applications and choose the technology stack best suited for each particular set of requirements. Developers can work faster because they only have to become familiar with whichever service they are working on at any one time. Developers can also deploy each service independently. Making fault isolation easier.

API economy

APIs and Web services are the gateways for accessing data from back-end record systems, IoT systems, and other intelligent systems, for consumption by employees, partners and developers. A BFaaS layer should therefore be able to aggregate APIs and Web services from disparate systems and expose containerized APIs.

Forward to the future

The business of apps is changing how companies operate and grow. No longer a supporting capability, applications are a driver of strategy and competitive differentiation. They can enable entirely original services for new and existing markets.

In preparing for the future, there are five key considerations that enterprises should think about today.

Treat the framework as a strategic asset

Enterprises can be myopic in their view of application development. Focusing on specific projects, and excluding wider considerations, can lead to monolithic applications. Organizations should think about how to incentivize their developers to maintain a balance between immediate project deliverables and a long-term vision of modularity.

Rationalize APIs

Before embarking on a modernization program, organizations should analyze their application portfolio with a view to reducing the number of applications to be maintained, and replacing custom, non-core functionality with standard public APIs. Organizations could also adopt a bimodal IT approach to create an agile API strategy.

Identify an MBaaS, IoT middleware provider

Organizations need to decide on an enterprise-class MBaaS provider and IoT middleware to be used for their mobile app strategy. The choice of middleware will be guided by factors such as availability of connectors for varied back ends. API management capabilities, the services available (OAuth, push notifications), and cost.

Build a governance board

Companies should build a strong governance board to facilitate the identification of business services across an organization. The board should closely interact with entities across different corporate functions and geographies, and identify options for modularity and business reuse.

Periodically refresh the business services library

Organizations should use mobile analytics to understand which business services provide the best ROI and adoption. Identifying which of those services require maintenance, taking into consideration feature adoption and OS version refreshes, is also essential.

Long-term competitive advantage depends on having the capacity to use liquid application development to build intelligent, connected and high performance apps. A business services framework is the need of the hour. Are you ready to take the plunge?