Mobile App Development: It’s Impact on You and Your Future
By Jane Zamarripa
Image Source: http://marrinternational.com/mobile-app-development/
In the latest installment of the Global Enterprise Technology (GET) speaker series, representatives from 4 major players in mobile application development visited campus to discuss the mobile application development process and the growing impact of mobile technologies on the business landscape.
The panel included individuals from local startups and global enterprises, with each offering a unique perspective on the industry and its practices.
Ben Edelman, CEO, Cross Borders
Ray DeLaney, Enterprise Mobile Center, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Murali Narasimman, New Media and Emerging Technologies, General Electric
Eric Hinman, Business Development, Rounded Development
Steven Von Deak, Business Development, Rounded Development
How are Mobile Apps Developed?
The mobile application development process unfolds in multiple stages (the Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) still applies!). The process begins with an initial need or idea being expressed by a client or representatives of a line of business.
At JP Morgan Chase & Co. and other large corporate entities, proposals for mobile applications are required to clear an internal vetting process before entering the design stage. Formal governance bodies and a firm-wide Mobile Business Board review and evaluate ideas based on:
Need- Why do we need this particular app?
Branding- Does the app complement our overall marketing or reinforce a key initiative?
Strategy- What problem are we solving with this app, and is it aligned with our strategic plan?
Current Stock- Does the capability already exist elsewhere, or are we reinventing the wheel?
Who Comprises a Development Team?
The size and composition of teams vary. They are determined largely based on the characteristics of the application and the phase a project has reached in its lifecycle. A look at some of the companies on the panel:
General Electric: A typical mobile app development team is comprised of 25 people, composed of roughly 60-65% developers, 20-25% designers, and the rest project managers. The percentage of designers is on the rise, however, and the company is beginning to recognize design as a central element of an application’s success.
JP Morgan Chase & Co.: The company is beginning to experience a similar shift towards user experience and testing. Its Enterprise Mobile Center employs 350-400 employees (30% developers, 10% designers, and 60% quality assurance and testing). The percentage of testers is especially large because the company develops applications for financial transactions with high risk factors.
Cross Borders: As a boutique content agency focused on game development, teams are significantly smaller (6-7 people). Marketing, press and PR, and video production play important roles in the development process.
What are the Challenges?
Clients who were dumbfounded by the web are equally perplexed by the emergence of mobile. Mobile application developers- whether in large enterprises or small firms- play a central role in bridging this knowledge gap. In addition to technical acumen, they must have the ability to educate and assist the client in articulating a goal for the app, defining requirements, and targeting a specific audience.
Where is the Demand?
Demand for mobile applications is not limited to any one industry or sector. At GE, for example, teams at the Mobile Center of Excellence are currently developing applications- for internal and consumer use- in the Finance, Energy, and Healthcare fields. Some examples:
Transformer Monitoring App- Allows customers, GE sales teams, and field service engineers to remotely monitor and diagnose transformers and transformer stations delivering electricity. The sensors provide real-time data in order to improve efficiency.
GE Transformer Monitoring App
Image Source: http://www.gereports.com/our-favorite-plane-train-transformer-apps-of-2010/
Patient Shuffle- An interactive mobile game developed by GE to educate and inform customers on the many complexities of hospital management. The app familiarizes users with the challenges associated with assigning nurses, scheduling rooms, monitoring supplies, and discharging patients.
Mobile App Outlook
The research firm IDC predicts that the number of annual mobile app downloads will increase from 38.2 billion in 2011 to nearly 182.7 billion by 2015. With forecasts of impressive growth are also challenges. The panelists agreed that despite being fairly new, the mobile application market is concentrated. New players emerge every day with new concepts for the “latest and greatest” app. Given this landscape, quality will become the key differentiator.
Advice to the Rookies
For students looking to start a career in mobile application development, command of programming (especially HTML5!) and other technical skills is essential. The applicants who stand out most, however, are those who know the trends and where the market is heading, understand the major players, and are passionate about the subject matter and willing to learn.
Companies are currently struggling to fill positions in mobile and emerging technologies. Candidates who come to the table with a portfolio of work they have completed through academic projects or hobbies will catch the eye of recruiters.
But whether or not you chose to become a mobile app developer, mobile applications will no doubt impact your professional future. Enterprises are adopting mobile technologies en masse, in ways which are already fundamentally altering traditional business processes and operations.
What personal attributes or skills do you think make a great mobile application developer? How have mobile applications impacted your professional life or the way you do work? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section!
Jane Zamarripa is a first year Masters student in the Information Management program at Syracuse University. As a result of her experience working as a constituent services representative, she is passionate about exploring the ways in which technology can be leveraged to improve citizen interaction with government. She holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
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