Has the mobile conversation turned more toward apps than platforms these days? Some in the market are pointing to an evolution where the cross-platform mobile strategy is the way of the future. As such, construction companies looking to hone their mobile strategy may just have a new tactic to consider.
A recent report from Forrester, www.forrester.com, Cambridge, Mass., regarding top technology trends to watch in the coming years has mobile applications at the top of the list. While this should come as no surprise for enterprises, what might make some take notice is the fact mobile platforms dropped from a steady No.2 spot in its rankings in years past, down to No.5.
Brian Hopkins, principal analyst, Forrester, says while mobile has long been thought revolutionary, enterprise architects now understand that it’s not the platforms, it’s the apps. Furthermore, Forrester points to the “age of the customer” and an increase of customer intelligence technology as trends that help underscore how the power of apps is centered on customer engagement.
In a recent Webinar hosted by Fiatech, www.fiatech.org, Austin, Texas, on the topic of mobile apps for construction, Martin Wilson, vice president of sales and marketing, Appear Networks, www.appearnetworks.com, Kista, Sweden, addressed the ability to create an application that can run on multiple platforms, which in turn allows companies to save both time and costs in terms of delivery. Appear Networks provides enterprise mobility software with apps that target construction, such as Site Diary aimed at replacing manual construction site diaries.
Turning the discussion to the underlying technology, Wilson addressed the topic of HTML5 as becoming an increasingly powerful tool for developers who are building apps across different platform as opposed to specific devices or platforms. Appear Networks is part of MobiCloud, http://www.mobicloudproject.eu/, a consortium of organizations working on the development of a European corporate app store. As such, a number of templates exist in the MobiCloud platform that can be used to create “hybrid” apps. Such apps are written in HTML5 code, but can be accessed via native devices.
At the end user perspective, it seems as though platforms are becoming less of an obstacle as time goes on. Thad Lutgens, IT director, L.P.R. Construction, www.lprconstruction.com, Loveland, Colo., says his company has standardized on primarily Android phone devices, but as with regards to tablets, the company uses a combination of iPads and Microsoft Surface Pro devices.
“iOS still has the market on quite a few tablet applications, but Microsoft allows much more flexibility along with the tablet functionality,” says Lutgens. “We can operate our Windows-based applications on the tablet if there isn’t an app available. We will continue to use both tablet devices until there is an absolute compelling reason to make a leap to one or the other.”
Lutgens believes that in the end the most mainstream apps are written for multiple platforms which, in his opinion, validates what Forrester is saying in its report.