How Should I Build My Mobile Apps?

John M. Wargo

A regular inquiry request we get from clients is “Which approach should we use to build our mobile apps?” There are a lot of arguments made for either side of the web vs. native approaches and some compelling arguments as well for using cross-platform tools to deliver apps. Because it’s such a common discussion, we crafted a report that addresses this topic quite well in Native, Web, and Cross-platform Mobile Apps All Have Their Place.

Ultimately, from the report, “it’s not a question of either/or; it’s which approach best fits the app in question.” The app’s specific features and capabilities drive one aspect of the approach you’ll select; any flowchart you’ve seen on this topic deals with that directly. However, you’ll also have to consider other organizational and technical aspects as well. So, if you’re looking for an absolute answer to the question posed, it’s: “It depends!”

So, what about cross-platform tools? Cross platform tools muddy this conversation a bit as platforms generally deliver native apps or web apps and many can deliver both. The selection of a cross-platform tool is driven by the same questions you’d ask about a native or web app: what are you trying to accomplish with the app coupled with specific questions about what capabilities and benefits the platform provides in key areas you’ll be exercising.

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Facebook’s Live API: It’s Time To Evaluate Your Livestreaming Strategy

Nick Barber
Live video gets 3 times the amount of engagement as non-live video and that’s one of the reasons why Facebook is releasing its Live API to developers. Here’s what you need to know. 
 
Until now, a limited set of Facebook users have been able to go live from their smartphones; broadcasting real time video to followers and fans. They could respond to submitted text comments in real time. With the API release we’ll start to see higher quality live video hit newsfeeds because broadcasters will be able to plug their professional platforms into the system. It’s not just broadcasters though who will benefit from the API. An auto maker could give a live tour of a factory and field questions in real time. Or concert venues could give a behind the scenes look ahead of a performance. 
 
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s F8 conference. (Credit: Facebook)
 
At the F8 developer conference Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the live platform with a DJI drone that was livestreaming video directly to Facebook. The previous smartphone-only livestreaming setup didn’t allow this.
 
With this rollout, Application Development & Delivery Professionals need to consider:
 
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Bots: The Next Big Thing In Mobile? Not So Fast.

Michael Facemire

Everyone is buzzing this week about bots with Facebook/Messenger’s anticipated launch of bots on its messenger platform. What is a bot you ask? A bot is a chat-based interface that helps consumers complete tasks -- ordering take-out food, chatting with their doctors, or checking the score of a big sports game. Many believe that this next step -- bots in conversation with consumers -- is imminent. We agree, but not so fast.

There are a few trends playing in favor of bots becoming the next big user interface:

  1. Apps put a huge burden on consumers. The app ecosystem forces consumers to orchestrate getting the content and services that they need -- sometimes in a single app, most times through a composition of many. And this doesn’t even address individual app quality -- too many of them are simply awful. We're forced through processes translated from online that make no sense on the go or on our mobile phones.
  2. Bots foster natural communication. Having a bot is like having an assistant. You can chat with the bot, ask the bot to do things for you -- like order take-out or get a new lipstick. They are a natural extension of how we communicate and use our mobile phones.
  3. Consumers spend 84% of their time in only five apps each month. Chances are that one or two of those are social media, instant messaging,etc., as a handful of mobile giants like Facebook, Google and Apple in the US own a disproportionate number of customers mobile moments, measured both by time and data. Consumers are asking for a better experience.
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Link Pricing To Business Drivers To Take Services Partnerships To The Next Level

Liz Herbert

Clients and services partners have talked for years about linking services partner pricing to business goals. However, traditional pricing models such as time and materials and fixed fee still dominate in services partnerships; examples of truly innovative pricing models are rare. Despite the rarity of these outcome-oriented pricing models, interest remains high. Clients frequently ask Forrester for examples of next-generation, innovative services pricing models. So, I’m writing this post to highlight two recent examples (showcased at March customer and analyst events) that truly push the envelope for services pricing models linked to business goals.

Example 1: Venture-based

At BearingPoint’s recent analyst summit, the EMEA-centric business consulting provider showcased multiple examples of venture-based engagement. The examples showcased go beyond the typical “VC fund” that we see at other services providers (in which an arm of the services vendor operates like a venture capitalist by doling out funds to a set of early-stage companies). Instead, BearingPoint gives consulting time and tools to select clients or alliance partners in return for equity. For example, Bearingpoint has a services-for-equity partnership with tracekey, an early-stage company focused on track and trace functionality for pharmaceutical companies. This means that Bearingpoint’s financial rewards are directly tied to tracekey’s results, without getting tangled up in managing to the contract terms or project dashboards.

Example 2: Consumption-based

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Build 2016 - Day 2: Walking out of the wilderness

Jeffrey Hammond
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu
 
Today’s Build keynote felt a bit like the final steps of a thousand mile journey for Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group Scott Guthrie, if not the larger Microsoft. It’s been a multi-year journey, forging a cross-platform, cross-language and open source culture at Microsoft, and it was by no means a sure bet. Let’s review some of the history:
 
  • If you can’t beat cancer, join it. Steve Ballmer’s 2001 statement that “Linux is a cancer” is an almost mythic meme 15 years later. But it clearly articulates the corporate attitude of Microsoft toward open source at that time. Old attitudes (and cultures) die hard. That’s why yesterday’s announcement of Bash support in Windows was not just good for cross-platform developers, but symbolic of the now firmly rooted cultural transformation at work in Nadella’s Microsoft. We noted it years ago, but it’s pretty clear that the change is sticking.
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Build 2016 - Day 1: Windows without windows

Jeffrey Hammond
The big number at this year’s Build: 270 Million. That’s the number of copies of Windows 10 that consumers and enterprises have purchased or upgraded to since Microsoft’s latest flagship launched last year. And the message that Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group Terry Meyerson sent to developers at the Build conference was that Windows is very much alive and well, and that it’s a great platform for them to build on (pun intended).
 
But there’s another not so obvious theme in Microsoft’s messages to developers at Build. Satya Nadella painted a picture of the longer term future of operating systems in general and Windows in particular: The decomposition of monolithic OSes that served consumers well when our digital interactions were confined to one or two devices. As devices multiply and input/output mechanisms broaden, it can’t help but affect the underlying services that operating systems have traditionally provided, especially as entirely new categories of connected devices emerge. Here’s how:
 
  • Cortona is ready for deep developer integration. In my opinion, the biggest change at Build is the emergence of natural language processing as a first class input/output mechanism for. Conversations as a platform (CaaP) takes the power of human language and applies it to digital interactions. Microsoft’s CaaP framework layers in context about people, places and things to enrich the conversations. With CaaP, human language joins window chrome and widgets as a core UI element. And developers can now layer in their own extensions to Cortana via “bots”. 
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What Comes After The Unicorn Carnage?

Ted Schadler
According to CB Insights (thanks, guys!), by the end of 2015, investors had given 152 tech startups “unicorn” valuations of more than $1 billion.  But now, valuations are deflating for many private and public tech companies. Is this 2000 all over again? No. The bubble popping over the next two years will mean job loss in Silicon Valley and a pullback in disruptor investment but not a collapse of tech spending or of the wider economy. CIOs and CMOs should seize this small window of opportunity to hire or acquire talent for digital transformation to serve customers in the digital channels of their choice.
 
That’s our conclusion (24 analysts contributed to this analysis, with special thanks to Chris Mines and James McQuivey) in new Forrester reports for CIOs and for CMOs. We present the full analysis there, but here's a (long) summary.
 
 
1. The Unfolding Carnage Of Unicorns -- There’s Blood In The Water
 
Private investors dramatically drove up the number of unicorns -- private tech companies they valued at more than $1 billion -- from 31 in 2012 to 152 in 2016. But down rounds and post-IPO stock collapses have begun. Accel Partners’ Jim Breyer, believes 90% of unicorns will be repriced by investors or die. He called it “blood in the water.”
 
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Microsoft's Project Rigel pushes Skype Meeting everywhere

Nick Barber

You don't need a $20,000 computer to collaborate on a Word doc anymore. Microsoft's Project Rigel will bring a Skype Meeting experience to any meeting room with a display or projector. 

Previously the videoconferencing collaboration technology was only available to users of Microsoft Surface Hub, a large screen computer ranging in price from $9,000 to $22,000. 

If you're not familiar with how Surface Hub works or what collaboration with it may look like, here's a video.

Surface Hub married document collaboration, whiteboarding and video conferencing into a single system with the obvious drawback of the initial hardware investment. With wide ranging enterprise implications for AD&D pros, Project Rigel will: 

  • Democratize the technology. Project Rigel lowers the barrier to entry to any meeting room with a display or projector. 
  • Force Windows 10 upgrades. Rigel will only work on machines running Windows 10 so for enterprises that are holding back, this could be the push needed. 
  • Make Office a stronger application for collaboration. Google's suite of productivity apps led the charge in collaboration, making it free and easy co-edit documents, spreadsheets and slideshows. With this announcement, Microsoft could recapture lost market share. 
  • Push hardware investments in Polycom and Logitech. The two VC companies partnered with Microsoft and certified elements of their portfolios to work with Project Rigel. These include the Polycom RealPresence Trio and CX5100 and Logitech ConferenceCam Connect, ConferenceCam GROUP and PTZ Pro Camera. 
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Continuing Trend Of Data Exploration - Tableau Closes One Of The Remaining Gaps In Its Portfolio, Acquires HyPer

Boris Evelson
One of the reasons for only a portion of enterprise and external (about a third of structured and a quarter of unstructured -) data being available for insights is a restrictive architecture of SQL databases. In SQL databases data and metadata (data models, aka schemas) are tightly bound and inseparable (aka early binding, schema on write). Changing the model often requires at best just rebuilding an index or an aggregate, at worst - reloading entire columns and tables. Therefore many analysts start their work from data sets based on these tightly bound models, where DBAs and data architects have already built business requirements (that may be outdated or incomplete)  into the models. Thus the data delivered to the end-users already contains inherent biases, which are opaque to the user and can  strongly influence their analysis. As part of the natural evolution of Business Intelligence (BI) platforms data exploration now addresses this challenge. How? BI pros can now take advantage of ALL raw data available in their enterprises by:
 
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Get ready for BI/Analytics vendor landscape reshuffle

Boris Evelson

When I read articles like today's WSJ article on mutual funds exiting high tech startups and triangulate the content with Forrester client interactions over the last 12 to 18 months (and some rumors) I am now becoming convinced that there will be some Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics vendor shake ups in 2016. Even though according to our research enterprises are still only leveraging 20%-40% of their entire universe of data for insights and decisions, and 50%-80% of all BI/analytics apps are still done in spreadsheets, the market is over saturated with vendors. Just take a look at the 50+ vendors we track in our BI Vendor Landscape. IMHO we are nearing a saturating point where the buy side of the market cannot sustain so many sellers. Indeed we are already seeing a trend where large enterprises, which a couple of years ago had 10+ different BI platforms, today usually only deploy somewhere between 3 and 5. And, in case you missed it, we already saw what is surely to be a much bigger trend of BI/analytics M&A - SAP acquiring mobile BI vendor Roambi. Start hedging your BI vendor bets!