Mobile computing and the apps that run on our smartphones and tablets are changing our lives every day. This goes without saying. What excites me is the pace at which this continues and the fact that we're just starting to scratch the surface of what's to come. For application development and delivery professionals, the challenge is how to remain relevant and compelling in this ever-changing landscape. An area that will immediately provide game-changing value-add is what I term Contextual Personal Data (CPD).
What Is Contextual Personal Data?
To level-set, we are all familiar with personal data. This is the information that drives advertising and marketing today, such as email/calendar/contacts, browsing and online purchase history, and everything that you divulge to social networks and allow them to harvest. CPD is the next evolution of this, enabled by mobile computing. Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices can now generate a new meta layer of information about an individual that is far more valuable because it is contextually relevant and dynamic. This is data such as "what time do I generally leave the house for work?" and "when I have coffee on the way to work, how much more productive am I that morning?” The next generation of compelling and successful mobile apps driven by CPD will interact with my life without requiring me to interact with them directly. This is the new landscape of contextual mobile computing.
In the not-too-distant past web-centric software development had a standard workflow between designers and developers. This was possible because there was a single delivery channel (the web browser) and well-established development constructs. Design patterns like Model-View-Controller had well known coding counterparts such as Java Server Pages, the JSP Standard Template Library or Struts. But now, the introduction of mobile computing has significantly altered this design-development workflow. The key disruptor is the need to target multiple mobile devices with a common set(s) of source code. Regardless of whether devs use a single HTML5/CSS3/JS implementation or native implementations on iOS and Android, there’s a greater burden on designer than in the web-centric past. What’s worse, the success or failure of mobile apps is more dependent on the complete user experience than ever before. This new reality requires a major shift within development organizations.