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Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAPs): A Buyer’s Guide

Mobility is becoming the mainstream platform for application access and for on-line transactions. This research report aims to help companies optimize their mobile development strategies and make more intelligent choices with regard to mobile app development tools. We examine the various strategies for automating mobile apps development and specifically look at the applicability and requirements for Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAPs) - software development environments that can automate creation of mobile applications for many mobile environments from a single code base. The report focuses on how organizations can transition their mobile application strategies from disposable to reusable, from artisanal to industrial, what tools are appropriate for which types of mobile apps and how to evaluate such tools. The research contained in the report blends and balances both the LOB and marketing views of mobile choices with those emanating from within the IT organizations. To view a PDF version of this Buyer's Guide Summary please, click here


We believe that there is a massive shift underway to mobile platforms as the primary means of interacting with digital assets and services on the Internet, between businesses to consumers (B2C), amongst businesses (B2B) and between businesses and employees (B2E). The increased availability of 4G connectivity will further catalyze mainstream adoption of mobile technologies. This implies a huge ramp up from current, rapidly growing but still miniscule base of mobile apps. There is not enough human capital to support new mobile apps requirements or to move the legacy codebase into the mobile realm. Automated tools will play a huge role in mobilizing existing apps and creating new ones. Organizations are looking to scale up their mobile applications development from an experimental, artisanal approach to a sustainable industrial grade best practice. Speed of development, time-to-market, quality, scalability and total cost of ownership for mobile apps drive these initiatives.  Determining which tool types fit a specific application type is a non-trivial exercise. Given the broad spectrum of mobile application architectures, - from native to Mobile Web and everything in between, and a dizzying array of vendor choices and a lack of clearly defined  selection criteria, the buyers often struggle to make timely, well-informed  purchasing decisions. A rash decision in this area can translate into significant long-term costs and increased risks to brand equity. On the other hand, a rational analysis in the mobile area can help companies save millions of dollars in development and operating costs while enriching the interaction with the customer.

Key Issues:

The research contained in this report is focused on the following key issues:

  • What are the key challenges in developing and deploying mobile apps?
  • What are the viable user strategies for developing mobile apps?
  • How do specific contexts such as B2C, B2B and B2E differ in terms of their requirements?
  • What is the sweet spot for mobile enterprise application platforms?
  • How can users most effectively select a MEAP solution and vendor? What are the evaluation criteria for a MEAP?
  • What trends will drive the evolution of MEAP requirements?

Key Findings and Forecasts:

  • Analysis of field data such as user interviews and internal MGI mobile scenario analysis indicate that:
  • 70% of all mobile apps created during 2008-2011 timeframe will become obsolete and candidates for re-development by YE2012
  • HTML5 will continue to gain ground in 2012 against native apps in non-transactional mobile apps but will fail to keep pace with the rapid progress in device technology
  • Native mobile apps will continue to dominate transaction-oriented and revenue generating mobile apps during 2012-2015 timeframe
  • Most organizations will continue to employ multiple mobile application architectures through 2014
  • During the planning horizon of 2012-2014 most mobile apps will experience at least four major update cycles stemming from operating system and device updates
  • Leading edge organizations are already taking steps to contain the sprawl of mobile app development tools
  • By 2014 up to 40% of Fortune 1000 organizations will employ a mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) for mobile apps development
  • The value of most MEAPs will stem from support for various mobile architectures, ability to tightly integrate with existing enterprise applications and provide a complete and disciplined application lifecycle environment for mobile apps

Key Recommendations:

  • Organizations should clearly define their mobile strategy, plan and approach, and outline acceptable application architectures, key development, testing and support processes, roles of LOB and IT organizations, funding and maintenance processes.
  • Organizations should separate the mobile apps architecture decision from the development tool decision. The mobile tool decision should not be allowed to limit the mobile architecture choices.
  • Mobile app development tools that are architecture-agnostic should receive priority. Mobile App Development tools that can only support a specific architecture are of limited value and to be generally avoided.

Selecting the Right MEAP

The process of selecting and evaluating MEAPs can be daunting. Once an organization makes a decision to consider and evaluate a MEAP, it spends a considerable amount of time assembling requirements and evaluating a potential solution. In our practice, we generally recommend that such an evaluation consist of two major parts:

  • Product/Solution Assessment and
  • Vendor/Supplier Assessment

MEAPs ability to evolve with changes in the mobile computing landscape for at least the next three to four years should be key selection criteria. In this context vendor viability becomes almost as important as the list of features supported by the product.

In field practice, users often tend to focus primarily on the kinds of devices that a MEAP can support and the kinds of specific device interface functions such as the GPS as the key and often only criteria. In reality, the mobile device support and mobile device integration capability, while extremely important, are only two of twenty different selection criteria categories. In our view, the other key categories include Architecture, Data and Application Integration, Life-Cycle functions within Development Capabilities and Security.

Best in class MEAP offerings need to successfully blend robust mobility capabilities with the most modern application development functions that enable rapid prototyping and development, automated testing, applications management, backend integration and analytics.

Key Topics Covered by the MEAP Buyer’s Guide

  • How to Meet the Challenges of the Next Generation of Mobility
    • Evolution of mobile app requirements – Why a mobile app is not a business strategy?
    • From 1st generation mobile apps to Mobility 2.0 – How to avoid obsolescence?
    • The increased use of mobility for transactional, revenue-generating apps
  • Key Challenges in Developing Mobile Apps
    • Fragmentation
    • Rapid Change
    • Connected vs. Disconnected Client
    • Bandwidth and Reliability
    • Lack of Standards
    • Steep Learning Curve
    • Security and Privacy
    • Integration with Existing Enterprise Systems and Processes
    • Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
    • Perceived Lack of Supplier Leadership
  • The Current State of Mobile Apps Development?
  • What separates best-in-class companies from the average?
  • How to Create a Viable Plan for Mobile Apps?
    • What is the optimal mobile applications architecture?
    • What is the role of standards such as HTML5?
    • What tools are appropriate for automating mobile application development and what are the key selection criteria?
  • The four major architectural styles for mobile applications
    • Mobile Web
    • Native
    • Wrapper
    • Hybrid
  • How to choose the right architecture for the right app type
    • Mobile Application Classification
    • Guidelines for Use of Industry Standards such as HTML5
    • A Plan for Mobile Application Development Tools
  • A Classification of Different Types of Mobile Apps
    • Enterprise Mobile App – Tier I
    • Business Mobile App – Tier II
    • Basic Mobile App – Tier III
    • Separating the Tools from Architecture and from App Type
    • Mobile Use Cases (B2C, B2E, B2B) vs. App Architecture vs. App Type
  • Detailed Definition of MEAP characteristics and capabilities
    • When is a MEAP the right tool?
    • How is a MEAP different from mobile toolkits and frameworks
    • Is MEAP applicable only to Tier I mobile apps?
    • Is it possible to have only a single MEAP tool?
  • How to Select the Right MEAP
    • Technical Evaluation Criteria (Device Integration, Security, Enterprise Integration, etc.)
    • Supplier Evaluation Criteria (Finances, Management, Staying Power, etc.)
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