Recently, I wrote a blog on “What powers the mobile economy?” which created lot of interesting conversations. A few large enterprise customers reached out to me and suggested they can relate to things I said in my post. In my follow-up conversations with them, a couple of more interesting views came up.
With the “mobile enablement” gold rush, companies are trying to create mobile channel(s). This meant taking their existing applications, and somehow making it available via mobile devices. While this mobile gold rush created a lot of possibilities, still they are not providing end-to-end complete mobile experience. They are still converting the existing apps to mobile, and not building them from the ground up. Because their existing products need to be built for mobile experience from the ground up, not just by putting a mobile pretty face on top of what exists, it creates a lot of issues over the course of time.
They told me they are engaging in this initiative by building one piece at a time. Instead of building a complete end-to-end mobile initiative, which might be time consuming, they are just mobile enabling things for now. This means when they caught up with a mature solution the competition would have moved on. Currently most enterprises are,
- Building a mobile channel by using existing data, resources, and processes. Essentially, this will allow companies to perfect the front end (System of Engagement – SOE) to build engaging mobile apps.
- Later on, building back-end perfection that will power the front end mobile apps.
Contrary to popular belief, most companies have already built decent mobile channels and are moving beyond the mobile app phase now. But the problem they have is that, due to the gold rush, they built silos of mobile engagement, sometimes using outside MBaaS (mobile as a back-end service) solutions, mobile servers in the mix, mobile security layering on top of the existing enterprise security and event handlers. Now they are in a consolidation mode before they start the “true” mobile innovation.
In my mind, the ones that are going to win are the companies that built a clear demarcation line between the mobile channel enablement and the backend systems – APIs. In my analysis, a lot of companies built a direct channel from the back-end all the way to the front end by using easy tool kits without worrying about a possibility of changes in the future. And there are companies that have built solid, enterprise grade APIs and accelerated mobile initiative from the ground up.
Now when they are turning to build the back-end products to engage in this futuristic digital journey they don’t have to worry about building them all over again. Half of it is already done, now they need to just revolutionize only the back-end. This is why I keep preaching to my customers that in order to accelerate your business in a mobile/omni channel initiative, you need to have a good API strategy. In other words, every mobile strategy must have an underlying API strategy.
The bottom line is companies have tried to expose their enterprise data (gold mine) to meet the gold rush. Now that they are putting order in place, they don’t want to just expose their data using APIs for mobile enablement, but building their future solutions using APIs/ mobility as a ubiquitous channel. In the future there will be no need to ask, “Do you have an API available for your product?” or “Would I be able to access your solution via mobile devices?” It is a given.
Companies are in a mode to build bundles and packages of not just their solutions but using some of their partners and freeware stuff as well. More importantly, companies are starting to offer what I call “blended “solutions. In the past, if you built a product/solution you were pretty much restricted to offer something within some confined boundary of your capabilities and strengths. But now, you pick and choose from a potpourri of possibilities and offer something unique in a quick manner.
This means going forward, in any development, any developer should be able to seamlessly look up other APIs or applications from any development platform to produce mash-up applications.
Essentially the future will have:
- Data and process orchestration at the service level instead of at the application level.
- Mashup applications that will provide a truly unique user experience.
- Build products that will provide an inclusive Mobile, Social, Analytics, Cloud (CAMS) experience as part of the features.
- Provide insights into usage patterns and value additions.
In other words, enterprises are moving away from providing tool kits and SDKs to a level where they are thinking about consumers from conceptual phase to intertwine them into the solutions that are being built.
We at IBM are always thinking of ways to help you stay ahead of the game. Reach out to me @AndyThurai to see how we can help you to build for the future. Our API, Mobility, Data insights, and Composable platforms help you build for the future. Let us help you help your customers by innovating your enterprise.