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HTML5 Is Not (Yet) a Panacea For Mobile Enterprise Applications

Today is a good morning here in Boston.  The mighty Bruins have tied up the Stanley Cup Playoffs with another decisive win against the Vancouver Canucks.  I maintain the theory I tweeted that the winner of the Cup should be decided based upon the total goals accumulated during the seven game series.  I think some of my Canadian friends might disagree with that, but oh well.  After catching up on the morning’s news, I caught wind of the news that The Financial Times was launching its new mobile app.

This is a pretty interesting piece of news on multiple fronts.  First of all, I am a big fan of The Financial Times, so I welcome anything they can do to improve their mobile experience.  The PCMag article makes a couple of interesting comments, including the fact that this new app actually circumvents the Apple AppStore.  Now while I typically don’t feel the need to comment on pure consumer focused mobile issues, this does raise the question moving forward of the monetization strategies for AppStores.  Now mind you, I am personally a big fan of “native” apps on mobile devices because (for now) they are the best way to capture a completely native mobile user experience.  There’s no question however that there is a very important trend moving forward for developing HTML5 based applications because they are – by design – cross platform.

But are they really?

I fired up my trusty iPhone4 and sure enough, I got a nice user experience.  Kudos to the Financial Times for developing such a nice mobile app. I then tried the “app” on my BlackBerry PlayBook.  The web page says “The new FT app for iPad and iPhone.”  I scroll down a bit further and see another title that says “Optimised for your iPad and iPhone.”

So the new HTML5 application is NOT cross-platform.  Hunh????  Isn’t that supposed to be the whole point of HTML5….we finally break free from the shackles of having to develop applications for each platform?

And hence the point of today’s missive.  As with most things, there is a gap between goals/objectives and the realities of the day.  The Financial Times (and others) will still need to customize the HTML5 application for the various platforms.  That means they are going to need a HTML5 application for the iPhone/iPad (it looked different by the way on my iPod), that is then tweaked for BlackBerry, Windows Phone, webOS, Symbian and the various flavors of Android (both in smartphone and tablet forms).

Does this at all sound familiar to the challenges we currently face in developing mobile applications?  It most certainly should IMO.

The Financial Times is a wonderful example that – at least as of today – HTML5 is NOT the panacea of mobile that it is cracked up to be.  Mobile application development – particularly mobile enterprise application development – is NOT a trivial undertaking.  We still need a fair bit of customization for the various operating systems and device form factors, and if anything, this reinforces in my mind the need for tools to develop, deploy, manage and update mobile enterprise applications in the most effective and efficient manner possible (particularly when you realize the need for your own mobile enterprise app store).

38 Comments

  1. Posted June 9, 2011 at 14:17 | Permalink

    Philippe, Nice analysis. I personally tried the FT app on iPad and iPhone but unlike you did not bother to try on other devices.
    However, I suspect it will be a much simpler undertaking to have it up on all other platforms than doing native. There are certain principles and frameworks they have to adopt.

    I have outlined some of my thoughts in this slidecast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7MHw9G7Mo8

    Would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

    My suggested approach- Native for prime target and HTML5 for rest!

    Best Regards, Somnath

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  2. Posted June 9, 2011 at 14:55 | Permalink

    I agree with Somnath – nice analysis and good description of the FT app experience, Philippe. While I agree that HTML5 is not yet the panacea for enterprise apps, it may just be the little engine that could! I think it is striving to become that panacea and THE standard by which developers create inter-operable applications. Only time will tell, but pointing out issues as you have with the FT app, will at least give the standards arbiters something to look into and fix going forward. It is analogous to HTML5 being in “beta” and needing all of the type of feedback you have provided in this one example.
    All my best,
    Jeff

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  3. Posted June 9, 2011 at 16:48 | Permalink

    Phillip, I respectfully disagree (sort of). I am a firm believer that nothing is a panacea. However HTML5 is certainly cross platform today. We have deployed enterprise SAP application across BB, iOS and Android without too many issues (of course there are some). The FT site (while I am not familiar with it) is most likely just not been tested on the other platforms and the error/message that you saw was, most likely, entered there until they can complete their testing on other platforms.

    Alon

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    • Posted June 10, 2011 at 07:48 | Permalink

      Alon – Some argue that HTML5 makes the testing easier because “it just works.” I would be shocked if they haven’t already been (in)formally testing the application on other platforms….and I am willing to bet it’s not working quite how they expected…hence why the marketing team comes in to say it’s “optimized” for iOS.

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  4. Posted June 10, 2011 at 07:16 | Permalink

    Philippe i liked your post :) But don’t totally agree

    I think that we are missing some points when comparing

    1. The cost of development and maintenance of five or six native apps (iphone, ipad, android, symbian, winmo, webos, BB) is many times the cost of development and maintenance of one web app customized for these 6 browsers.
    2. Native apps are not converging to a unique technology. In fact all mobile systems are diverging daily.
    3. HTML5 is being the point where all platform’s browsers are converging so near future comes with a common scenario for all devices.
    4. HTML5 is becoming great space to develop apps taking account results and learning curve. Learning curve on each native app sdk is still hard.
    5. For sure HTML5 developers don’t grow in farms but it’s easier to get one good html5 developer than 6 good native app developers.

    So it’s ok, lowest common denominator is poor today when we try to make a multiplatform web app at one shot and then we don’t really get what we say multiplatform when developing web apps with html5. Yes, we have to touch views for each browser – not back end programming.

    But we are not wasting time investing in a great ipad / iphone web app as more and more bowsers will give the same experience day by day and lowest common denominator will grow.

    Anyway, native app experience will be better on a device by device comparison from now onwards and for some kind of applications. For some others, many in business management apps (bi, crm, erp, bpm, …) I think we will be able to implement with html5 what our usability and UI designers say.

    I guess this is why you added (Yet) in your post title :)

    P.S: Look at yourself and see how many native apps are using for your daily work on your mac/pc and how many are just web. Is your crm a native app? Your erp? your content management? Is Marketing working with a native app? Even SAP is managed from a browser in many companies.

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    • Posted June 10, 2011 at 07:51 | Permalink

      Luis – great commentary. On your point #3, you suggest that mobile browsers are converging. Haven’t we been dealing with this on the desktop for 15+ years? I’m sure web developers can share many stories regarding how one WebKit browser behaves one way vs. another, thus requiring tweaks. I don’t see this as being any different from what you need to do to develop a full blown application. Sure, it may be to a lesser degree, but it doesn’t completely go away.

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  5. Posted June 10, 2011 at 09:31 | Permalink

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  6. Posted June 10, 2011 at 13:23 | Permalink

    I’m not experiencing any problems on my PlayBook – the site renders beautifully and doesn’t say anything about iOS devices. I bet what you saw was a coding error – an attempt by the developer to detect a capable mobile device that failed. The iPhone and PlayBook are running the same web rendering engine (WebKit), no reason why the site wouldn’t work correctly (except for minor rendering problems on the iOS or PlayBook implementations of WebKit).

    What I’m seeing is that people associate HTML 5 = WebKit which is not truly the case. HTML 5 should work the same on all platforms, the problem is that problems with the rendering engine, not HTML, make this a problem.

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  7. Posted June 13, 2011 at 11:20 | Permalink

    Interesting discussion because it highlight a hope that HTML5 will somehow solve another challenge – the number of OS’s and their divergence. I’m not able to argue on HTML5 as a solution (either way), but the fact that we “hope” does underscore the severity of the platform challenge.

    The competing solution to the HTML5 silver bullet? Less OS’s. Writing Apps to 6 OS’s is a non-starter. Limited resources require focus. App developers will focus on platforms that maximize sales. Consumers and enterprises will select platforms that have the most available Apps (with extra points if cost is low). The success of those selected will attract yet more App developers (and Apps). In short, OS’s (platforms) are a momentum play.

    To me, this screams of the PC OS wars, all over again. I can’t thing of a good reason why the same dynamics won’t play out again with Mobile OS’s.

    iOS and Android have the momentum. They are gravity wells – pulling in more mass and thereby increasing gravity. Arguably, Nokia (Symbian) just exploded, and its matter is being absorbed largely by Android (underscored perhaps by the rise of Samsung this quarter over Nokia). RIM has been faulted by Wall Street analysts for failing to capture this window of opportunity. HP/WebOS has a gargantuan hill to climb.

    Is HTML5 sufficiently unifying and compelling to overcome these technology/platform physics? Probably not, and certainly not in time to save laggard OS’s. Will HTML5 become an alternative approach to Apps for a lessor number of OS’s? Quite possibly, but less OS’s would diminish its value (to some degree).

    Circular logic? Yea, a bit (sorry for that). But momentum plays (gravity wells, etc) operate via reinforcing, circular-ish dynamics. And with all that said, I may have proven to friends that I’m a total geek.

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  8. Posted June 13, 2011 at 18:33 | Permalink

    Agreed, HTML 5 is no holy grail.

    While the specification itself has been in a draft state, adoption of the specification within various mobile devices has not been uniform, leading to wide gaps of functionality. This can even be witnessed between different models produced by the same manufacturer or vendor.

    The platforms who incorporate HTML 5 in their development environments are doing it best. They’re leveraging it where possible but not relying on it as the only tech in their solutions, this gives non-lowest common denominator results and reaches more devices.

    Native binary apps for the next couple years at least will remain vital for the specific roles they deliver on.

    Until there are only 2 mobile OS’ types (which is unlikely to ever occur) or the world moves to mobile web only, there will be a need for companies like Kony, Pyxis, Netbiscuits, others and their respective platforms.

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  9. Posted June 14, 2011 at 11:01 | Permalink

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    • Posted June 14, 2011 at 14:00 | Permalink

      1) If the world were only SAP, “rendering” might solve all the world’s ills. However, I fear that enterprises might occasionally be interested in other stuff. Just a guess ;-)
      2) Rendering is kinda like Citrix, Web and HMTL5. Some marvelous attributes like data security and lower platform development costs, but the user experience may not reach the level of Apps. That’s the basic trade-off equation. The challenge/opportunity in mobile? It’s not to replicate a Windows desktop environment. To the contrary, crazed and wild-eyed adoption of devices like iPhone and iPad are driven by their unique/new user experience. That includes Apps and the associated tool sets available to developers (offline usage, messaging/twitter, icloud etc etc etc). The annoying analogy for me = running a VT100 session from a PC. Sure it works, but it’s an annoying user experience and proves only an interim approach before data is accessed via the native OS environment (client-server applications and later, the web).
      3) The challenge/opportunity is only accelerating. I was gobsmacked in the last month by the various new capabilities unveiled at Google I/O and WWDC. Between now and next year’s events, Mobile OS’s will continue to spew new enabling capabilities, and like bugs to the light, we won’t be able to resist them (consumerization of IT, etc etc). The systemic challenge? How to “say yes” to those capabilities, and that means finding ways for enterprises to effectively secure and manage them. Build those tools? Riches.

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  10. Posted June 14, 2011 at 14:49 | Permalink

    You mention “native” and “web” based apps as the two choices for app development. I am just curious if you are counting MEAP solutions in the native category, or if you consider them unrealistic at this time?

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    • Posted June 14, 2011 at 15:31 | Permalink

      I’m struggling with MEAP as a category/concept. Apps and App stores (incl. enterprise app stores via MDM) arguably offer a competing model to MEAP. What I am sure of = MEAP solutions are undergoing transformations to adapt to a more App-centric world. That adaptation might cause one to consider them “App Management” solutions like Apperian.

      Simple challenge: For $299, you can access Apple’s Enterprise Developer program. Awesome and easy-to-use developer tool set. Add an average developer and you can produce some amazing Apps for iOS – which services a pretty healthy proportion of devices.

      Ditto for Android.

      Why spend huge bucks for MEAP when you can so easily develop using “native” Apps tools for iOS and Android? What’s the value? The answer to the latter = greatly diminishing value.

      So if you’re a MEAP platform vendor, do you use these native tools to create “native” Apps? If so, can you still call it a MEAP platform? I personally struggle with these questions as this space just keeps innovating faster and faster!

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      • Posted June 14, 2011 at 15:34 | Permalink

        Nick – Why do companies spend gagillions on middleware? Because that’s the glue for front to back end systems. Same applies IMO for mobility.

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    • Posted June 14, 2011 at 15:32 | Permalink

      The apps that are created with a MEAP platform are native, so I would lump them into the native bucket.

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  11. Posted June 14, 2011 at 17:01 | Permalink

    Based on the previous interpretation of Enterprise Rendering™, along with the poor rating that was given to Mark’s 6/10 post, I recognize that Enterprise Rendering™ is not well understood. It is not Citrix, a screen scraper of any sort, nor is it an HTML5 application. It is completely different, completely advanced, and completely contrary to anything MEAP.

    I’d like to address the points that have been made by Nicholas, and also thank him for his viewpoints.

    1. While I agree that “enterprises might occasionally be interested in other stuff”, I believe that we can all agree that enterprises are primarily concerned with unmet promises of business value that mobility has strewn about under for a while. It isn’t my intention to mention this in a derogatory manner, but let’s take a minute and reflect on the “enterprise” portion of the “enterprise mobility” buzzword. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is not something that has sprung up recently and is laden with concepts that are foreign to us. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It has been around since the late 70’s/early 80’s and requires that organizations using ERP software hold true to the core belief that continuity, centralization, governance, and mastery of business process is key. Everything else is secondary. Let me reiterate – everything else is secondary.

    We also subscribe to the concept of ERP. That said, we elected to invent, design, and engineer Enterprise Rendering™ from the approach of “value to the enterprise”, rather than one of “leveraging the features of the device”. For example, we believe that it is more important to be able to perform critical business functions (e.g. change MRP planning parameters, take a customer order, collect customer payments, fine tune plant and picking output, review material availability, make a journal entry, etc.), in real time, rather than focus on the use of the compass or gyroscopic functions of the device. We believe it is more important to extend the existing business functionality in a bi-directional and governance oriented manner, rather than build “apps” or “middleware” that are tantamount to an attempt at duplicating everything that is both good and valuable from the ERP. Therein lies the secret to why cost/benefit analysis is currently so difficult; not only are you replicating functionality (hoping not to mess it up), but you’re also doing it with another technology(s) and skillset(s).

    In other words, Renderprise™ is different because we went at it from the “enterprise” portion of “enterprise mobility”, rather than the “mobility” portion of the phrase. We come from the enterprise ERP world (e.g. SAP, Oracle, JDE, PeopleSoft, etc.), and those are the glasses we elected to put on when we started out.

    I further agree that the world is not only SAP. You can expect to see major evolutions in our product that reflect that sentiment.

    2. “Rendering is kinda like Citrix…” – absolutely untrue. Enterprise Rendering™ is completely different. I say this not only as the inventor, but also as one who has reviewed other patents in the area (as part of a patent search) from companies like SAP, Oracle, and others with a team of our IP attorneys. This is the case both in terms of visual experience and interaction with the backend system.

    While there is a portion of the platform that allows you to define a layout, there is also an adaptive nature to the execution engine that conforms to the characteristics of the device. This allows us to present the same business functionality differently, per device, without requiring anything more than a single definition, nor altering any functional controls.

    Interaction with the backend system is conducted entirely through memory on our platform, while the execution itself occurs completely in the backend system. This allows us to maintain and leverage all security and licensing controls of the ERP. We dynamically conduct and negotiate execution instructions with the ERP, receive the results, and reformat them to the device for presentation. We don’t “piggy back” on a screen device, use intermediate tables, store data on the device, nothing.

    3. “The challenge is to say ‘yes’ to the capabilities of the new mobile OS” (paraphrased). I respectfully disagree. This may be true for what I call a “consumer” or “utility applications”, but I can’t imagine a CIO getting excited enough about built-in compass as to go to his/her board and request capital funding for a project (navigational industries notwithstanding). The challenge is to recognize, at least from the “enterprise” portion of “enterprise mobility”, that all of that “bling” doesn’t yet add business value. In each of their respective quests to dominate the mobility market, these manufacturers are, I believe, building walls rather than anything “open”.

    I believe that’s a rabbit hole that has no bottom. It’s fools gold. Again, I mean no disrespect; it’s just my opinion. The same is true for “native apps”. It is, in my opinion, a fatal leap of faith that a CIO would make to deploy a series of $200-300 apps that update the validated system that was $80M+ to install and runs another 10%-18% to feed annually.

    That, in a very abbreviated nutshell, is what makes Enterprise Rendering™ different from any other solution on the planet.

    I would like to thank this community for pointing out that you require much more technical and in-depth knowledge. Simply understanding the characteristics and benefits of the technology (and that it works) appear to be only a portion of the information that is required to grasp the true value of Enterprise Rendering™.

    I will take it upon myself to post a series of technical blogs on the SAP Developers Network (SDN).

    Wayne Rabstejnek
    Chief Technology Officer
    Renderprise
    http://www.renderprise.com

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    • Posted June 14, 2011 at 17:46 | Permalink

      @wrabstejnek

      When you say:

      “The challenge is to recognize, at least from the “enterprise” portion of “enterprise mobility”, that all of that “bling” doesn’t yet add business value”

      I would argue that the consumerization of enterprise mobility has refuted that theory a couple of years ago now.

      In any case, let’s focus on the fact that HTML5 is – at least in my opinion not (yet) the panacea it’s cracked up to be.

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      • Posted June 14, 2011 at 19:25 | Permalink

        With all due respect, I think the number of companies that have yet to adopt mobility supports my earlier observation. I would argue that while there may be significant interest in doing something mobile, the actual adoption rate does not bear out the assertion that commoditizing mobility has directly changed the enterprise (vis a vis enterprise systems “Enterprise Mobility”) on a significant scale. If that were the case, mobility would not be forecasted to grow at the paces quoted, everyone would have it, and it would be extremely cheap to deploy (basic economics). There are still lots of companies sitting on their hands, which I believe, indicates a lack of satisfaction with their mobile options.

        With respect to HTML 5, for all practical purposes, I believe it will never happen. Something may happen in terms of an offshoot (e.g. “Chrome 4+”), but it will not be uniform, and it probably won’t be pretty, either. The key members of the W3C have effectively abandoned the spec and appear content to keep it that way. Even HTML 4.01 which has an approved spec is handled differently on different browsers. Why would an incomplete spec suddenly garner universal and uniform support? In any case, I believe we can all agree that it is not forthcoming in the near term. Just my opinion, but I liken waiting on HTML 5 to “save the day” to those same people that show up at the convenience store, week after week, playing their same “lucky numbers”. It’s a prayer that will not be answered.

        When the spec was abandoned, it was left to die. It’s dead. If it is not pursued uniformly, it’s just another device (or rather browser) specific programming tool.

        Without putting words in your mouth, it seems that waiting on HTML 5 is not prudent. Should other forms of innovation be explored? What do you think?

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        • Posted June 15, 2011 at 07:59 | Permalink

          Actually, the market research I have conducted shows very strong adoption rates of mobile solutions….even if it’s just email. Companies now on average consider about 50% of their workforce mobile and 50% of employees are now using smartphones. Given that not everyone will ever need a smatrtphone, that seems like some pretty strong adoption thus far.

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          • Posted June 15, 2011 at 10:47 | Permalink

            I would never argue that at least half of all enterprises have email on their phones or laptops, nor that half of their workforce use smartphones or laptops. I’m sure your numbers are correct in those areas. The statistic that we should be discussing, at least to me, is how many companies are using their smartphones (or tablets, etc) in a manner that provides benefit to the enterprise (email notwithstanding). That is the only statistic (in my opinion) that truly indicates mobility business value to the enterprise. I’m not talking about simply using a phone in a remote location, sending an email or text message, or any other feature gleaned simply by having the device in your possession. I’m talking about leveraging the mobile device in a similar manner that businesses leverage employee desktop systems for productivity. I suspect that this would be significantly less than 50% of all enterprises.

            In the interest of staying on topic, I stand by the declaration that HTML 5 is dead. HTML 4 actually is cross-platform, but there are significant differences in the way browsers choose to implement the specification. That said, to further discuss explore topic, let me pose the following questions to you:

            1. As I previously questioned, is it your belief that it is not prudent to wait for HTML 5 to materialize, or should other innovation be explored? Where does your research tell you the market is going, or are those counting on HTML 5 waiting for a bus that will never come?

            2. Does “enterprise mobility”, in your opinion, encompass the software running the enterprise (i.e. business, accounting, or ERP systems)? If the definition does indeed include the enterprise software, what does your research indicate in terms of adoption?

            3. In your opinion, and for the purposes of correctly contributing to this discussion, does “enterprise mobility” encompass simply B2C, or does it also include B2B, B2E? All scenarios?

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  12. Posted June 14, 2011 at 18:57 | Permalink

    Sorry Wayne. I didn’t mean to say that you were the same as Citrix. Different models – I get it. I lumped you in with Citrix in so far as you’re not in the set of “native apps”.

    Consumerization of IT describes a basic phenomenon = consumer technologies innovating faster than those built for government/enterprise. Blogs, social media, messaging etc etc. Now, mobile.

    Why the aversion to native Apps? In tech, we sometimes get new platforms and tools. They have birthing issues (including concerns for security and manageability), but if they are truly enabling or compelling, they are valuable.

    Apple and Android are providing developers with a robust, new set of tools that are designed to operate well on a new class of devices, including facets such form factor, screen, input device (finger), etc. Developers have been producing a stunning volume of stuff, and as in the Internet model, while most of it may be junk or toys, some are transformative and game-changing. Users seem to applaud their usability and accessibility (secure/safe App stores etc) – voting HUGE with their wallets.

    Lastly, I understand the value of SAP. Not underestimating it at all. But let’s not presume that it will be the ultimate, pervasive platform for delivering all corporate data to all people. That just don’t jive.

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    • Posted June 14, 2011 at 19:56 | Permalink

      No problem Nicholas, -its cool :)

      I’m not a fan of native business apps for a couple of reasons. That said, I have developed on all kinds of platforms, so my rationale for the enterprise directly conflicts with my desire to enjoy developing on the various device platforms.
      Here’s just a quick list of what comes to mind:
      1. Security- on device apps can be compromised if the device is lost. Depending if you use an on-device database, that can go too. I can tell you that the HTML 5 local relational database can be easily hacked, packed up, and transmitted to a third party with little or no effort. Also, the device may store local connection information (think iPhone Cisco VPN), or other connector info to support the exchange of data.
      2. Deployment Complexities – When you are asking an enterprise to track and manage potentially concurrent on-device apps, that may be from more than one vendor, it can be a nightmare. If you figure in devices that can “auto-upgrade” their own OS, central control quickly becomes elusive. It gets worse when you have a mix of devices.
      3. Cost – In a MEAP environment, the middleware is “disconnected” from the device programs – it’s only logical because both pieces function on different platforms. This allows additional complexities to crop up, such as data “store and forward” strategies, identification of the “data authority” (e.g. a phone sends an update to 3 systems at once and the update dies in various stages of update. Who’s right?). You also get into infrastructure, component packaging, and special skills. Developers need to have all of their Eclipse plug-ins correctly versioned (and all of their associated components), there’s version control, migration, and multiple servers to support the full SDLC landscape. On top of that, everything must be coordinated and controlled. If the company is SOX/GxP validated, then everything must be spec’ed out, reviewed, approved, etc. Plus, this affects all of the required SDLC environments, as well. In a true enterprise, it gets very expensive.
      I’ve seen estimates that “complex” applications can cost in the neighborhood of $80K to produce and the carrying cost of each device from $200-$500/month. If you’ve got this behind your firewall, you’ve now involved real estate in your data center.
      In terms of developing something innovative on device, I say do what you’re interested in. It will be the most enjoyable work you’ve ever done, and you may invent something new. But do it with your eyes open. All of these device/OS manufacturers are heading down the road to a closed platform. Each will offer the developer something that “the other guys don’t have”, but they will not be uniform, nor will they port.

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      • Posted June 15, 2011 at 08:01 | Permalink

        To your point #1 – this is why I encourage companies to adopt both a mobile device management and mobile application management solution. Regardless of where the data resides, as long as there is data passing through the device, you need MDM and MAM solutions.

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    • Posted June 14, 2011 at 20:05 | Permalink

      Just to add regarding your point about SAP being the pervasive point of delivery. In terms of SAP not being the “entire corporate delivery platform” I agree with you. That said, in terms of Enterprise Mobility, the ERP must be the primary focus. Whether it’s SAP, Oracle, JDE, or whatever, if the mobile strategy fails to deliver ERP functionality where it is needed, there is no amount of Flash, OData, or other device spinner that is going to matter.
      A car with a cool paint job and mag wheels is useless without an engine.

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  13. Posted June 15, 2011 at 08:26 | Permalink

    I feel inadequate now! No SAP on my phone. :-(

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  14. Posted June 15, 2011 at 09:16 | Permalink

    Enterprise adoption? Wayne, my man, it’s a happenin’. Philippe’s right. Moreover, it’s not just IL pressure to being my own device. I take great pleasure in reporting that enterprises have been infected with imagination on how to apply these devices (incl. their OS/App frameworks) and in new, new ways. Devices in the hands of employees who weren’t worthy of a corporate-issued email device (BB). LOB Apps to help the workforce be more productive and/or engage better with customers. iPads in schools and hospital waiting rooms. Cruise ship crew running around with iPhones. The sales force of a mattress franchise enabled with iPads to show off mattress features. Large auto repair company issuing iPod Touch’s and iPads to their garage crews (instead of paper). I could go on and on and on.

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    • Posted June 15, 2011 at 11:35 | Permalink

      There is an interesting dichotomy of usage in the examples you provide, that may help clarify my point.

      Email Users – I’m not sure I would include this bunch in the category of “enterprise adoption”. Perhaps if they were using BlackBerry BES server and accessing Lotus Notes, that would be a different story (and valid). I would offer that this is more opportunistic for the enterprise to capitalize on those employees willing to provide their own mobile devices. I don’t see an enterprise buying a bunch of iPads and iPhones simply to have email. Email alone is not all that compelling to justify the outlay, -there has to be something else simply because there are so many other cheaper alternatives. Just giving employees a blackberry to access email, in my opinion, neither constitutes “enterprise mobility” nor a mobile strategy. It’s just a mobile email client.

      School Usage – I’m not sure I would label any educational institution as an enterprise, particularly those using the iPad in a teaching capacity. That’s not to say that their usage isn’t valid, only that they found an appropriate use for a visual technology, rather than a mobile one.

      Garages Mechanics Using iPads or iPad Touch – On the surface, that sounds like a really bad idea. They must encase those things in carbon fiber and wipe them down several times a minute. Everything that can damage one of those devices (liquids, solvents, heavy machinery, concrete floor, etc) is pervasive in the garage. Is this an isolated experiment, or is this industry-wide? I understand using the browser for catalog lookup in the parts department, but not in the garage. Can you provide an example?

      Sales Force Demos – If you mean presenting product literature, images, or animations of their specific wares, then more often than not, you are referring to something they should already have on their website. I’m not sure the mattress example holds up well to scrutiny (I’m not doubting you, just questioning the fiscal impetus to support the endeavor). It has been my experience that industries such as as retail, textile, and fashion can make more of a justification for exploration in that area. That said, they all have that functionality on their own websites today. It’s just economics – a sales force costs much more than a website.

      Hospital Usage – This makes my point exactly. In the example you provide, hospitals are using the iPad as an alternative to wheeling around the “PC on the cart”. They typically access their back end enterprise systems (e.g. scheduling, patient history, pharmacy, billing and discharge, etc) through a browser over their wifi connection. While there are other usages in the hospital (e.g. imaging, film review, etc.), the value is placed on the ability to interact with the back end business systems that run the hospital.

      Line of Business Apps – yes, that is exactly what I’m talking about. Adoption here is miserable. If anyone can provide statistics to the opposite, please do so.

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      • Posted June 15, 2011 at 12:02 | Permalink

        “School Usage – I’m not sure I would label any educational institution as an enterprise, particularly those using the iPad in a teaching capacity. That’s not to say that their usage isn’t valid, only that they found an appropriate use for a visual technology, rather than a mobile one.”
        I would think the CIOs of most higher educational institutions – who deal with thousands of mobile users – would tend to disagree with this statement.

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        • Posted June 15, 2011 at 12:20 | Permalink

          Using an iPad in a teaching capacity qualifies as “Enterprise Mobility”? In that scenario, the A/V plug is connected to a projector and the content is presented. Is there something else going on concerning the mobile needs of the individual students? Please discuss this further so I can understand.

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          • Posted June 15, 2011 at 12:37 | Permalink

            Again, without going too much on a tangent, there are as you know ERP solutions (including from SAP) specifically tailored to higher ed. All the employees of the school have work email, as do all the students (separate from their Hotmail or Gmail). I can’t imagine a scenario where a CIO is not thinking about how mobility (including WLAN based mobility) can improve employee productivity and the students’ learning experience.

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  15. Posted June 15, 2011 at 13:30 | Permalink

    I don’t think I’d argue that educational CIO’s think about a mobile strategy, but I think there are crossing concepts that have now been introduced here.

    “iPads in schools” was the exact quote that Nicholas chose to cite for the argument that “enterprise adoption” was “already happening”. I simply pointed out that I don’t believe it was being widely implemented in a manner that qualified as “enterprise mobility”. While your point about the CIO thinking about a mobile strategy may be entirely valid, it does nothing to change my argument. With all due respect, I believe that thinking about a strategy isn’t the same as having and implementing one. I still don’t understand how that adds up to either “enterprise adoption”, or qualifies as “enterprise mobility”.

    Just to further clarify, vis a vis the iPad example:

    An iPad in the classroom, at least at the high school level, as a teaching device is not something that is provided to the student as a part of a mobile strategy. It is leveraged by the teacher as a classroom tool, much like a marker board or a projector.
    Any iPad used to access back end business ERP systems (SAP for Education, as you mentioned), is something that is provided by the respective institution potentially as part of a mobile strategy – typically to staff, rather than students. It simply may be a cost cutting access strategy, rather than paying for a PC and may very well be confined to campus use (perhaps “mobile”, but not “portable”). This is probably more viable at the collegiate level, rather than public K-12 schools.
    Students that have iPads at universities can typically access educational intranets, websites, and other materials as a convenience to the student, rather than as any part of a mobile strategy.

    Again, let’s leave email out of it. Most major universities provide web-based email access for students to access their own collegiate email accounts. The iPad has nothing to do with this whatsoever; the usage is purely associative rather than causal.

    Again, please correct me where I need to be corrected. Are we talking about K-12? Elementary? Collegiate? Any metrics or examples you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

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  16. Posted June 15, 2011 at 14:08 | Permalink

    Based on the fact that this forum contains the phrase, “Enterprise Mobility”, I assume that it is important that any discussion on mobility relate to the enterprise, not just the device. Regardless of the industry or sector, to me, “Enterprise” is the business end of the entity. Period. To that end, what is it that every enterprise is looking for? Simple.
    - Increases in productivity
    - Decreases in cost
    - Increases in sales/profitability
    - Process simplification/streamlining
    If “Enterprise Mobility” cannot deliver at least one of those key ingredients, there can be no justification or payback. That’s what we should be discussing. Will HTML 5 do that? I think this thread is proof that it cannot.

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  17. Posted June 15, 2011 at 15:16 | Permalink

    HTML5 will be a tool, just not the “silver bullet” that’s sometimes contemplated. Other tools = Renderprise, Citrix… and yes, Apps. Pick your tools based on the job, the capabilities of a tool set and the limitations. There are no absolutes here.

    Approval of non-BB devices like iPhone/iPad for email? Let’s not underestimate this phenomenon. Simple IL pressure has been by itself stunning. It has forced/courted IT to consider an alternative to the venerable enterprise standard-bearer (RIM). Your taxonomy is like watching Belgian Navy exercises – interesting but irrelevant! Device/platform approval is hard, and 2 years ago you would have laughed at the prospect of Apple getting this far. It has changed things. It is “compelling enough to justify the outlay” – not my judgment, just reading market share numbers here.

    But the value of iOS and Android goes beyond email (think “one-two punch”). A portable computing platform with a razzle-dazzle new UI. And yes, Apps.

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  18. Posted June 15, 2011 at 17:00 | Permalink

    Hospitals: a stunning case in point. I was at the doctor’s office the other day, and he was doing some beautiful manipulation of CT scans using his little ol’ fingers on his iPad. One of medical Apps he had. Asked if he would part from his iPad based on IT pressure? “from my dead cold hands.”

    #1: Apple’s App framework (and tools) used to create a stunning set of capabilities and an amazing user experience (multi-touch gestures to manipulate the image).
    #2: Nothing to do with SAP. To repeat, there is goodness outside SAP. Really.
    #3: He does have an App for “back-end systems” (again, not based on SAP and just for certain functions). That said, that wasn’t the driver for device adoption. It was the medical imaging apps, the medical reference apps and some other apps which I couldn’t even comprehend (although he was excited about whatever they were).

    Relative to your other examples, you might be missing the point. I’m not arguing that those are reasons why these enterprises SHOULD adopt; to the contrary, I’m explaining why they DID adopt.

    And yes – the big challenge for IT is to build a Mobile Strategy. The moving parts (MDM but lots more) and their operation (skills, best practices, governance etc). Big challenge, but big pressure too.

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  19. Posted June 16, 2011 at 13:29 | Permalink

    This article about Facebook and HTML5 is great: http://gigaom.com/apple/apple-might-not-get-social-but-facebook-doesnt-get-mobile-apps/

    First, HTML5 (web apps) and mobile Apps aren’t going to replace one and other. Second, to decry Apps is to ignore the immense popularity of Apps in the marketplace. Evidently, people like them!

    Both approaches will find their place/role. If you look at any other technology/platform adoption cycle, you can’t summarily say that enterprises won’t adopt Apps for LOB purposes (heck, many already have developer teams with experience from building/guiding B2C Apps).

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  20. Posted June 30, 2011 at 14:57 | Permalink

    Here’s a new article that came out on PC Magazine today that furthers my point that HTML5 is still no panacea:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387825,00.asp

    “Web browsers quest for HTML5 is awash in contradictions, including the fact that while it’s a specification designed to foster cross-browser compatibility, the disparity among the browsers that support it couldn’t be greater.”

    Need I say more?

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  1. [...] One of the big mobile app development debates of 2011 for enterprise is whether or not HTML5 is going to become the best solution for most, if not all, mobile apps – versus hand crafting native apps for each mobile platform. Phillipee Wintrop takes a stab at this debate in his article, “HTML5 is Not (Yet) a Panacea for Mobile Enterprise Applications.” [...]

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  2. [...] One of the big mobile app development debates of 2011 for enterprise is whether or not HTML5 is going to become the best solution for most, if not all, mobile apps – versus hand crafting native apps for each mobile platform. Phillipee Wintrop takes a stab at this debate in his article, “HTML5 is Not (Yet) a Panacea for Mobile Enterprise Applications.” [...]

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  4. [...] One of the big mobile app development debates of 2011 for enterprise is whether or not HTML5 is going to become the best solution for most, if not all, mobile apps – versus hand crafting native apps for each mobile platform. Phillipee Wintrop takes a stab at this debate in his article, “HTML5 is Not (Yet) a Panacea for Mobile Enterprise Applications.” [...]

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