Outlook for Enterprise App Development 2016

The bar for mobile apps is set extremely high as we move into 2016. The massive engineering teams at Facebook, Twitter and other technology giants have produced sexy, polished, fast and valuable apps that work everywhere.

You, your son or daughter use apps like these a hundred times a day. For every other app you open, if it does not provide the same awe inspiring visual and functional experience, it usually gets deleted. Or worse, you tell your friends how awful of an experience the app provided.

This doesn’t stop at consumer apps, this goes for the mobile and web apps you use for work. Most internal enterprise grade apps are notoriously built on legacy technology, and give a poor-to-eye-gouging experience on mobile (if you can even access it on mobile).

A number of companies today face the staggering problem of upgrading their technology. They fail to produce fast, reliable and beautiful applications for their own team or their consumer.

A good part of this is because companies who have been around for 5+ years have already invested in older systems and technology. It’s easier (and cheaper) to patch these systems with layers of new code for every new feature than overhauling the old platform they’re built on.

Recent examples of what happens when this is the case are:

But even some of the most famous apps out today are now feeling dated. If you use a sports, news or transit app, or even Twitter or Facebook you know that feeling of waiting for the app to refresh data. You may have even had to “pull down” on mobile to make data updates happen.

Is “pull to refresh” the future? We don’t think so.

Web pages are generated only at the moment they’re requested. Apps should run continuously. If you think about Uber, that app is continuously tracking your mobile phone through a cloud service. Everyone is used to using apps today, not web pages; this distinction is crucial for understanding the expectations of the consumer and the implications for your choice of technology stack.

Nothing should have to update (refresh) information or UI regularly from the server, it should already be there and automatically change to reflect new input.

Apps today are also expected to be universal. To work on every device a person owns; a phone, a thermostat, an Android tablet, an Apple Watch etc., This is going to be ever more important in the not so distant future. People now use an average of 3 different devices in their daily routine - this is predicted to increase to 6 as companies create all types of IoT products for daily use.

Companies of all sizes have to meet and exceed market expectations and they have to be better than the competition at delivering them to survive.

They’re trying. But it’s been difficult, and it’s only going to get increasingly more difficult as the IoT age puts massive additional pressure on demand for scalable cross-platform, cross-device application development. The majority of organizations today have developed less than 10 apps with a startling number having produced 0. Gartner surmises that demand for apps will outstrip internal IT capacity to produce them by 5:1 in the near future.

Well, how do we face this demand? Two things:

  1. Adopt a mixed-sourcing approach; some of the skills required are fairly new, look for a development agency as a partner, they specialize in doing this kind of thing right. Some can even train up your internal team - this is more common than you think.

  2. Invest in moving to a modern, web-based cloud IT platform powered by rapid modern app development tools.

Enter Meteor and the era of “connected-client” apps. Meteor is real-time, full-stack JavaScript (JS) framework. Developers don’t have to piece together their own software stack anymore, front- and back-end pieces all come packaged together substantially reducing architectural headaches upfront.

Crucially, Meteor has the ability to run anywhere JS can. This implies it can efficiently build apps, IoT inventions, internal CRMs and run most other devices you imagine all while being able to share up to 90% of code between them all. For example you could have an iOS app, Android app and web app (site) running from the cloud, all with 1 code-base.

These are the core parts of the Meteor stack:

  1. Google’s JavaScript runtime (V8).
  2. Node.js (7 years old now and very mature, well funded and developed much the way the Linux kernel is)
  3. Cordova - the open-source core of Adobe’s PhoneGap platform
  4. MongoDB

Meteor is also a hyper-efficient framework laying down 10 lines of code for what used to take 10K in some cases. What does that mean? Even less time in development. It’s also backed by a world of genius; the Meteor open source community has released 8000+ maintained code packages containing all types of app add-ons. Recently, the Meteor Development Group has also released Galaxy, a hosting platform build off of Amazon EC2 that is tailored for streamlining your Meteor app’s DevOps at enterprise scale.

JavaScript is the most popular language on GitHub and the most commonly taught programming language today. Did I mention most Java or .NET developers are already doing JavaScript? Its their secondary language. This makes a platform built with Meteor easy to staff for now and in the future.

There are lots of frameworks and languages out there that are made for different purposes. The critical aspect of app development is picking the right platform for the job today that will enable your company to grow tomorrow. Choosing the wrong platform just leads down the path of piling onto an already mountainous level of technical debt for most organizations.

After its release in November 2014, we chose to build software only with The Meteor Development Platform because it gives anyone the tools out-of-box to build large, revolutionary apps now and then the reliability and adaptability to efficiently build any product, app or innovation you think of next. 1 codebase, 1 team and infinite possibilities.

Even Gartner named Meteor, “Cool New Application Vendor 2015.” It powers Workpop, and according to Trinity Ventures they’re the fastest iterating startup they’ve ever funded.

Stop patching systems with new layers of code - invest in powering your business with a framework that can build the future.

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