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February 7, 2013

CIOs Should Ready Mobile Hybrid Apps

By Dave Courbanou

CIOs approaching a cloud strategy may want to consider something a little more than the most practical SaaS solution. Cloud software needs to provide flexibility and scalability, offering functionality for both mobile and non-PC devices. All-encompassing software services like these open the door for flexible business strategies while improving worker productivity. The best part is, it’s not any more difficult to find and deploy these solutions — it just takes common sense.

Gartner’s latest predictions offer an interesting deconstruction on the future of mobile cloud software. According to the analyst firm, by 2016, over half of mobile apps in use at the enterprise will be hybrid apps. As the variety of mobile devices grow, corporations will be under pressure to support more “mobile work styles.” Hard-coded native apps that require a singular device type (e.g. iOS only) and/or unfriendly web-apps (e.g. a desktop app squished into a mobile browser) are counter productive to promoting the next-generation tools for the workforce.

But this is where the magic of hybrid apps come in. Hybrid apps “combine the portability of HTML5 [and] Web apps with a native container,” creating an attractive experience for both the user and the enterprise. The solution runs an intuitive touch-based interface for all mobile users (Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone), while supporting non-mobile devices in a way that is also simple, either from a web browser or through a similar native container for the OS in use.

This flexible strategy is really the most critical component of any SaaS deployment and Gartner offers another sobering prediction as to why. By 2014, Apple devices will be just as mainstream as Microsoft products in the enterprise — and it’s not just iPhones and iPads. Gartner believes Mac OS X will take on more of iOS’s features, driving more consumerization of IT, and eventually contribute significantly to enterprise computer fleets. In addition, this will create happy users, allowing iOS and OS X to work in harmony in the work place, much like they do at home.

But more importantly, providing support for the Macintosh system is a model for future support of any new operating system — so long as it adheres to Web standards like HTML5. By ensuring hybrid app usage, internal IT practices can ben non-dependent on hardware and eliminate configuration and installation for most users.

This not only promotes happy users who can quickly jump into work, it promotes happy IT, which can then focus its own resources on critical back-end processes, like mobile device management and data center security.

Many major SaaS companies today offer that mobile hybrid app capability, but CIOs should be careful shoppers, ensuring the work of migrating to a SaaS solution isn’t wasted. It more than finding something cost-effective — it needs to be future-proofed.

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