Mobile apps are all the rage, especially in the consumer space. Entertainment, productivity, art, science, education, you name it … there’s a mobile app for everything. Mobile solutions are also catching up in the enterprise space though at a more cautious pace. After all, the stakes are so much higher here with users expecting simplicity and under-friendliness as well as security, privacy, data integration, system interoperability, performance, availability, and accuracy.
Mobile apps and mobile solutions can be native – iOS or Android applications; web applications that run on the mobile browser; or hybrid applications that look and feel like a native app but have an underlying web based component. Did you notice that I am using two terms here –’apps’ and ‘solution’? It’s not just a play of words. Mobile solutions and mobile apps are actually quite different from each other. Let me tell you how.
Most of the consumer apps available on app stores are just that – applications. They are installed on a device, interact with data on the device or at a very limited level with a backend database, and don’t really do much outside this app. Take the example of Angry Birds, one of the most popular mobile games of today. The only time the app interacts with the cloud is when players update their score to online leader boards or Facebook or when an update is available.
Of course, mobile apps like image editors and reminders must save content created on them somewhere. It’s usually done on the device or on an account on the cloud, with the user’s consent and often as an in-app purchase. Though data is exchanged between the mobile application and a backend database here, the interaction is very limited and straightforward.
Mobile solutions are far more complex than applications. They usually serve an end-to-end purpose. The frontend can be a simple, intuitive interface on your mobile device but under the hood there are deep connections with backend databases and the enterprise technology hub. A mobile solution may have to integrate with web services, authentication and security modules, data access frameworks, business objects, Content Management Systems (CMS), and third party software applications to facilitate to-and-fro secure exchange of business content and data.
Mobile solutions can facilitate one or more business functions while delivering a user experience that belies the underlying complexity of the solution.
Ranjani Rao, VP Technology at Boston Technology Corporation, explains the distinction between mobile solutions and mobile app as: ‘A mobile app is to a mobile solution what a website is to a web application. A mobile solution integrates server side technology assets such as business services, side applications, data sources, etc., and leverages mobile device features such as location, audio, video, etc. What the user sees is a mobile app that is dynamic, real time, feature rich and easy to use, but under the hood, all the moving parts are seamlessly integrated.
A mobile app, without the solution behind it, is exactly what it says it is – an app that is easy to use and provides cool features but is restricted to the device.’
At Boston Technology Corporation, a dedicated team of UI/UX specialists is part of every mobile solution development project from day one to ensure the delivery of a simple, efficient and intuitive user experience for users, however complex the underlying business computations may be.
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