Betfair: Develop mobile apps at speed or lose out to competitors

Enterprise firms need to develop mobile applications at a fast pace or risk losing out to their competitors, according to Betfair's head of agile development.

Online betting exchange Betfair has itself employed a successful mobile strategy, delivering services based on Java and Apache tablet and smartphone applications. The firm saw its mobile channel revenues jump 53 percent in its most recent financial results.

According to Eddie Kenny, agile software development manager at Betfair, key to the successful deployment of an enterprise app is the ability to develop quickly and keep ahead of competitors.

“One of the things that is apparent and obvious to everyone is that you just have to look at the number of players in the mobile space to know that speed is really important. Speed to market for your product is really important,” Kenny said at the AppsWorld 2013 event at London's Earl's Court.

“Because it is so competitive, having a fast delivery capability is really important as well. You can have all the great ideas in the world for apps, but if you can't get them out there then your competitors will, and they will beat you.”

The best way to achieve this swiftness is to adopt agile development methodologies, said Kenny, which are well-suited to developing quickly and iteratively for new mobile platforms.

“If you are just developing in an open-ended way, or using the waterfall methodologies of building entire projects from scratch until it is finished and then release it, then you are not going to have the opportunity to release every two weeks. Our goal at the end of every sprint should be to have a potential releasable increment of software that we can put out to our customers.”

These short bursts of development productivity, or 'sprints', can help company's respond quickly to meet demand for improved functionality from users, he said, using analytics to target key areas of change. This means responding to problems with a user interface which can result in a low rating on app stores, impacting the business by putting off potential customers.

“The risk associated with releasing bad apps which have problems and crash, the immediate feedback from an app store – that can bury your app.”

Ultimately, he said, all companies should be looking at adopting agile practices for mobile development, warning that those which don't risk being outpaced by rivals which are already employing such methodologies.

“If you start with a trimmed down version of your app and then iterate over it, you can be getting products to market quicker than your competitors if they are not using this type of methodologies,” he said. “You have to assume your competitors are going to be delivering updates and new functionality regularly, so if you are not then you are going to fall behind."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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