Before you read this blog, take a moment to sit back and look around – chances are, your phone is within easy reach. Maybe you’re even holding it right now to read this or using it to “multi-task.” Smart phones have become ubiquitous in our modern world, and companies have capitalized on the opportunity in ways we could have never imagined just a decade ago. We use our phones for everything: news, social, entertainment, fitness, health, retail, and more. But one category is notably missing – one that touches our lives in a major way almost daily. Aside from checking your email or making calls, how often do you use your mobile device for getting work done?
Despite the rapidly increasing functionality of mobile devices and apps, and the time spent with ours glued to our hands, the development of business-focused mobile apps has consistently lagged. I’m not talking about consumer apps, but apps that workers can use to get their jobs done more quickly and accurately. Sure, there are some useful mobile experiences for major office products like email and chat, but what about apps specific to your responsibilities? Think about it in terms of your laptop. How essential is it to always have your laptop with you when attending a meeting, working with a client, or simply trying to perform work-related tasks? You get the point.
So why is there such a gap between opportunity and delivery with business-related mobile apps? Historically, companies have approached mobile development as a complex, standalone project, exhausting time and resources coding mobile apps completely separate from other app development. But low code paired with a Center-out™approach is changing that.
The challenges of traditional mobile application development
To best understand the lack of functional, business-focused mobile applications, let’s unpack the traditional approach to building, deploying, and maintaining mobile apps.
The process begins when a requestor, often a business user, identifies a need for a mobile app through their day-to-day work. They are then challenged with explaining the app requirements and expected end-user experience to a developer (who may not even work at their company) without much knowledge of how they build the app. In turn, the developer is challenged with translating this description into a usable app experience without real insight into how the app will be used. This disconnect leads to endless rounds of revision cycles and an end-product that rarely looks as it was envisioned by the business user.
Many mobile apps are hard-coded, but even when low code is used, many so-called “low- code” platforms suffer from common pitfalls. For one, they may lack the ease of use that allows non-technical users to develop powerful apps quickly and easily, defeating much of the purpose of using low code at all. For example, branding an app with “low code” may require outsourcing work to a third-party, adding more time and review cycles. Additionally, they often have an incomplete mobile app model that lacks key pieces of functionality, such as the ability to add advanced notification features that increase productivity or conform to mandatory organizational security policies.
And what happens when business requirements inevitably change – due to regulations, internal changes, or simply the discovery of a better way to do things? Even something cosmetic like a rebrand can trigger the need to make updates. This is where things really break. Required changes must be re-coded in every instance of the app: desktop, iOS, Android, etc., even if the app is intended to be the same across systems. This leads to inconsistencies, lags in updates (end users must be forced to manually update to stay current), and a total inability to make critical changes across systems in real time.
These facets of traditional mobile app development all contribute to the lack of useful, intuitive business apps available. But they don’t change the fact that organizations need these apps to stay competitive and productive in today’s world.
Simplifying mobile app development with low code
What if I told you there was another way, that it doesn’t need to be this hard? How could your priorities shift?
There are two key components to a mobile application development strategy that works:
- An effective low-code application development platform that integrates essential mobile development features in addition to its core, intuitive, low- code authoring.
- A business architecture that builds from the center out, to ensure that keeping apps updated across channels and systems is simple, seamless, and can be done in real time.
Let’s explore how the right low-code platform enables a much more effective approach to mobile application development.
Pega’s intuitive, low-code app development platform makes adding mobile-specific features easy.
The process again begins when a user identifies the need for a mobile app. But in this case, the intuitive, visual interface of a low-code platform enables business users to build the app themselves. All it takes is a few clicks to deploy a desktop app to iOS and Android devices, reusing all the original logic. The need for disjointed review cycles and back-and- forth with developers is virtually eliminated. When collaboration or coaching is needed, out-of-the-box tools can greatly ease communication and increase productivity. When these tools are applied to mobile, users can receive push notifications to respond quickly (even on-the-go) when work needs their attention.
The right low-code platform also includes mobile-specific development capabilities, like those shown in the image above, which make it easy to ensure a native, intuitive end-user experience that includes all the things you’d expect from a mobile app: swipe actions, push notifications, and more. And, to truly make an app their own, users can easily add branding including logos and custom colors with no need to write code or outsource to a third-party.
Securing the future with a center-out business architecture
A low-code development platform allows users to build mobile apps quickly and easily, but a center-out business architecture is what ensures they are ready for change. When development is approached from the center out, with business and process logic defined centrally, updates only need to be made in one place. Once those changes are made, they are automatically reflected across all channels, including desktop, iOS, and Android apps. This enables true, real-time agility, allowing companies to remain secure and compliant and user experiences to stay consistent and unbroken.
Mobile application development doesn’t need to be hard
With the right approach, beautiful, functional, business-focused mobile apps can become as universal as any other app type on your phone. And with increasingly remote, nontraditional workforces, this may be more important now than ever before. Employees need and expect to be able to get their work done whenever and wherever, even if the Wi-Fi is down or the kids need the computer for home school.
Pega Mobile enables citizen and professional developers alike to build essential apps quickly and easily – and our center-out business architecture makes it simple to keep those mobile apps updated. By starting with what’s important – like the data, app logic, and personas – it’s easy to scale and add all the features and capabilities that each channel requires. And you can provide a great experience for everyone across all devices that can still be effectively maintained over time.