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Thinking About A New Twist On BYOA

A momentous thing may have occurred yesterday.  I returned from what should be my last trip of 2013.  I just came back from a very quick, yet productive, trip to Europe.  During one of the meetings, a conversation that was taking place made me think about the whole notion of BYOA (Bring Your Own Apps).  Just like many conversations, blog posts and press articles have shifted from talking about MDM to MAM (Mobile Application Management), there is an equal level of discussion shifting from BYOD to BYOA (Bring Your Own Apps).

But what if there were another BYOA – Build Your Own Apps.

You’re probably saying to yourself “But Philippe, the concept of Build Your Own Apps has been around ever since the dawn of mobile application development and there are tons of solutions out there to build mobile apps….this isn’t a new concept.”

While this line of thinking is a very valid point, I’m thinking about a slight twist on mobile application development.

See, the way I look at it, mobile application development is still something that requires technical skills.  No matter how “easy” it is to build an app with a mobile application development platform, you still need technical chops (sorry, all you MADP/MEAP vendors).  You need to know computing languages and how to connect to back end systems.  And no matter how “easy” it might be to learn HTML or JavaScript, it’s still something that the lay person will not be able to do.  Heck, I consider myself pretty geeky.  I know basic HTML and even less JavaScript and there is NO way I could build even the most basic “Hello World” application, nevermind something actually useful.

Now let’s add another component to the equation behind my thinking.  The original concept of Bring YOA is predicated on the thought that we as individuals are frustrated by the fact that IT is moving too slowly (or is fundamentally against) providing us the tools that we want/need to be more productive.  The classic example is that we often have personal computers or home internet connections that are significantly more powerful than anything your employer is going to provide you.  How many companies do you know of that have 100+ megabit internet connections and/or WLANs that run at 300+ megabits per second?  They are few and far between.

So back to my thesis.  What if your employer is too slow to build a mobile app that you need or think could provide added benefits to your job?  The normal route would then be to to hire a contractor and go rogue.  This is one of the most frustrating things for IT and for you as the end user.  Another scenario could be that your workplace has in fact built a mobile app that is meant to address your need, but it’s not EXACTLY what you’re looking for, or there’s just something not quite right for what you’re looking to accomplish.  What if YOU could Build Your Own App without having ANY technical skills what so ever?

What if the IT department had enabled a system whereby all the “connectors” (meaning APIs) were there for you to consume and you could use an incredibly intuitive WYSIWYG tool to then build your own app (with all the security that would be deemed necessary) and then upload it to your employer’s enterprise app store…and crowdsource it to get feedback from others and/or assistance to add even more functionality.  This new model of BYOA has at its roots the Consumerization of IT because it’s all about IT unshackling the employees and allowing them to have more say in what tools they’re using to do their work.  But the cool twist is that it’s all done in such a fashion whereby the IT department controls the environment so that there is “organized chaos.”

So I will leave you with a question.  Could “Build Your Own Apps” be to “BYOA” what COPE is to BYOD (a mechanism to satisfy both the needs of the employees and the employer)?


  1. Posted December 9, 2013 at 10:41 | Permalink

    Non-IT business stakeholders are already running around sourcing Apps for their lines of business. Sometimes, IT is involved and either offering tools or offering adult supervision. Organizationally, IT needs to shift its mindset to service provider -quickly and cost-effectively delivering to their company’s business needs. Sure, that’s what they are supposed to be doing already, but let’s be fair to the challenge… employees and business stakeholders have a TON of options these days – CoIT, cloud services, Apps, etc etc. The challenge for IT is to enable, secure and manage a significant increase in the NUMBER and TYPE of tools available. In short, enabling innovation.

    Build Your Own Apps? Yes, and there are tools for that. IBM Worklight and the MEAP/MADP vendors do offer WYSIWYG tools for folks to more easily build custom enterprise Apps… and yea, with access to security tools and integration with IT datacenter resources and services.

    This isn’t lost on the vendors. Vendors in the “EMM” space are converging fast… and maybe even faster than we invent acronyms to name a technology space!

    I’m not sure the comparison with COPE and BYOD is valid. We’re building solutions and architectures to secure and manage Apps whether the device is corp owned/issued or not (BYOD). In other words, whatever version of BYOA works on both BYOD and COPE (say that three times fast). However, if a biz stakeholder is building Apps that access data center resources (including corp data), I don’t think there’s a choice but to have IT specify tools and be involved in their deployment.

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    • Posted December 10, 2013 at 11:01 | Permalink

      Nick – Sure there are tools like Worklight and other MADPs, but they still require programming knowledge. My hope is that one day there will be more akin to http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/

      With regards to my comparison to COPE, the point I was making was that hopefully one day, IT will fully embrace its role as the enabler and provide us the tools we lay people can use to create our own mobile tools and assets…but in the controlled fashion that appeases their security and architectural concerns.

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  2. Posted December 9, 2013 at 10:44 | Permalink

    Oh, and naughty, naughty Philippe… contributing to acronym proliferation/confusion! Sorry for the critique, but you know I suffer from EOD. I also confess I’m starting a new cause: SAM (Stop the Acronym Madness).

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