I’m writing you from one of my favorite places. The Acela Express train heading back home from New York. I’m not sure I know why I like it so much. Maybe because it’s such a convenient way to get from Boston to Gotham City or that during the trip, there is 1) leg room, 2) free WiFI or 3) the ability to make or receive phone calls. Who knows. It’s also just a nice time to reflect on the last couple of days. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been attending the Interop conference for the last couple of days. Today, I presented on my favorite topic (enterprise mobility management) and then moderated a session called – you guessed it – “Finding the Optimal Mobile Strategy: Apps vs. the Cloud.”
I’ve been quite fortunate recently. Just last week, I was in San Francisco where I moderated a phenomenal panel of industry experts on the topic of mobility management. Today I had another fantastic set of panelists. They included:
- Cimarron Buser, VP Product Marketing, Apperian, Inc.
- Michael Dortch, Research Director, FOCUS
- Jay Mellman, Chief Marketing Officer, Rhomobile
- Scott Olson, Mobile Architect, ITR Mobility
We talked about an unbelievably broad set of topics (all centered on mobile applications), including (but not limited to):
- B2B vs B2C app strategies
- Development of native apps. vs hybrid apps vs. web/HTML5 apps
- Mobile middleware solutions
- Cloud data storage
- Using pre-packaged apps that also leverage their own private clouds
- Deploying and managing apps in scale via public and private app stores
Side note – one of the panelists suggested that there was no need for Mobile Device Management if you had the right tools in place to manage your applications (this was not the person who said this yesterday, so you have to wonder if this is a growing sentiment).
The general consensus was that you need to focus more on the processes and the rationale behind wanting apps than the tools and methods of developing them. Yes, apps are a HUGE part of what makes mobile amazing (thank you Steve Jobs – May you rest in peace)…but we are (as I love to say) only at the end of the beginning of (enterprise) mobility. The tools are still somewhat immature for developing mobile applications and the landscape from an ecosystem perspective is nowhere near settled…so why try to come up with the “perfect” solution to all your problems when your current concerns will in all likelihood be replaced by new issues within 180 days.
One of my former bosses used to say all the time: “Focus on the things you can do….and not on the things you can’t do.” I think that is perfectly applicable to the mobile application landscape. Mobilize your business now….for today’s business. If you keep on second guessing things and try to “future proof” things, then you may as well stay on the sidelines for several years….and watch your competition blow right by you as they make advances (and mistakes) in mobile.
Mobile applications are clearly the future…and so are time shared mainframe computers….uhm, I mean the Cloud. Data will be stored everywhere…on premise in “Private Clouds” or in “Public Clouds” or in “Personal Clouds.” More and more web services will be exposed that will let you do new things that you could not have imagined 90 days ago. There are also myriad choices in terms of how to go about building, deploying, managing and updating them….regardless of whether it’s for the B2B or B2C space.
Is there a “best way”? Absolutely not. Just pick one that appears to be the best for you now and go build and deploy “insanely great” apps that will delight your customers, partners and employees today.