The mobile landscape is changing rapidly, with users demanding an ever more robust and evolving experience on any mobile device, from anywhere. As a result, enterprises are faced with an increasing mobile backlog, which is directly affecting enterprise revenue and productivity. A recent survey by Opinion Matters, sponsored by OutSystems, found a broad-ranging, increasing shortage of skilled mobile developers.

Rapid Mobile App Developme

Analyst firm Gartner recently published a new market guide, Gartner Market Guide for Rapid Mobile App Development Tools, (Richard Marshall, Nick Jones and Jason Wong, November 19, 2014), which we believe is designed to help enterprises navigate the landscape of rapid development tools, which aim to simplify, through ‘low-code’ or ‘no-code’ offerings, mobile app development, to the point that anyone - developer or not - can use them.

We are seeing an increasing number of customers turn to Rapid Application Delivery (RAD) solutions to help them solve the emerging mobile development challenge. Mobile is the ‘pointy end of the stick’, and it is becoming the forcing function for organizations to take a hard look at how they create, deploy and manage applications across all their platforms (web, mobile, wearables, etc) in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible. Besides including a list of representative vendors, including OutSystems, which offer cross-platform development (Android, iOS, etc), Gartner also provides some recommendations in the report, which we agree with. These include:

  • Experiment with different styles of rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools and select a small subset that corresponds to organizational needs.”
  • Verify the financial stability of suppliers, as many of them are small. Plan an exit strategy for each vendor; however, do not let vendor risk limit your adoption of innovative solutions.”
  • Determine your key selection criteria, typically back-end integrations, skills required, device support and user interface (UI) capabilities.”

We believe this is sound advice. To address these recommendations, we suggest the following:

  • We encourage enterprises to experiment with many tools before selecting one. OutSystems provides a free version of its platform making it simple for individuals and organizations to experiment with our solution.
  • Ask potential vendors about their lock-in requirements. Many vendors will attempt to lock companies in, so that no matter how poor the user experience, they cannot leave if they want to take their code with them. Unlike proprietary technologies and closed frameworks, OutSystems generates standard, optimized and fully documented source code which does not require runtime interpreters or vendor-specific engines. With this approach OutSystems ensures that you won’t get locked-in to any proprietary technology, thus protecting your investment.
  • Evaluate what integrations are provided out of the box. Are you trying to integrate with existing SaaS and enterprise systems, like, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft? Databases like SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL or DB2? What about connectors and cloud services like Facebook, Zendesk, Twillio, LinkedIn or Twitter? Consider whether your provider has these pre-built, or if you will have to do heavy lifting to make them work. It’s also worth taking a look at other customers the providers have in your vertical, or who have built similar apps to what you’re trying to build, to determine if there’s anything within their knowledge base that can reduce your time to market for new applications.

The full Gartner Market Guide for Rapid Mobile App Development Tools, (Richard Marshall, Nick Jones and Jason Wong, November 19, 2014), is worth a read, and can be accessed here by Gartner clients:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.