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How to manage mobile app madness

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Enterprise demand for mobile apps is outstripping IT's ability to keep up. Here are several strategies for coping.

Computerworld - Mobile Application Madness [cover]

The need for enterprises to deploy mobile and web apps for consumers, business customers and employees is skyrocketing. Indeed, research firm Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of software interactions in enterprises will occur on mobile devices. Such high demand has left organizations scrambling to keep up. According to Gartner, enterprise mobile app development requests will grow five times faster than IT’s capacity to deliver through 2021.

What’s an IT department to do? This PDF collects three Computerworld stories that highlight different ways organizations are tackling the problem.

The first story checks in with Santa Clara County CIO Ann Dunkin, who is overseeing an effort to deploy improved web and mobile apps for the county’s residents that offer a platform-agnostic, one-stop shopping experience for everything from requesting wedding licenses to paying property taxes. To get there, she must address a question many organizations face: Do you build custom apps or buy them off the shelf?

Custom-built apps can offer a better mobile experience and help companies differentiate themselves from competitors, but they typically slow down development time and increase costs. For Dunkin, the answer is clear: Her IT shop custom-builds apps only when shelfware doesn’t meet or can’t be configured to meet the county’s needs.

Other organizations are taking a different approach, turning to new drag-and-drop tools that enable employees with no coding experience, known as citizen developers, to create new apps or enhance existing ones. Bypassing the IT bottleneck can greatly speed up development, according to industry watchers, but IT should remain an active partner in the process, overseeing and policing app development from start to finish. Find out more in the second story in this collection.

For organizations that decide to custom-build apps, whether consumer- or employee-facing, security flaws are a big concern. That’s because developers typically don’t build mobile apps from scratch, but instead use chunks of open-source code from online libraries to assemble the apps — and those components may contain vulnerabilities that put corporate or consumer data at risk.

How do you know if you’re using bad components? The third story in this collection rounds up a number of tools for scanning and detecting known vulnerabilities.

Whatever approach your organization takes to deploying mobile apps, one thing is certain: You’ll have no shortage of work in coming years.

— Valerie Potter, Managing Editor, Features, Computerworld

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