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Enterprise Mobility Blog, Mobile App Development

What 10 Experts Say about Enterprise Mobile App Development and Testing in 2015

what 10 experts say about enterprise mobile app development and testing in 2015

Enterprises are adopting mobile apps at an incredible rate – with expectations of the enterprise app market to grow 27 percent per year from 2015 to 2016 alone. As developers are increasing the rate at which they’re developing mobile enterprise apps, challenges are arising in the process.

Some challenges are stemming from companies trying to use similar strategies that they used for web applications, such as deploying technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration, when developing and testing mobile apps.

With 2015 being a pivotal year for enterprise mobile apps, we wanted to understand the challenges. What are the common issues companies are experiencing? We decided to poll experts in the field to determine the answers. We thought you’d be interested in what we found.

Common Mobile App Development and Testing Challenges (as stated by 10 experts)

 1. Continuous testing and automation: A few of the experts believe continuous testing is the biggest hurdle developers face. Even when the app is published, developers have to continually test the app to make sure it works in the ever-changing mobile landscape (Richard Harris). It can be hard for companies to keep up when users are becoming accustomed to receiving regular updates and enhancements to their devices.Some companies have turned to agile development methodologies to try to achieve faster time to market in an attempt to keep up with these changes. Agile is also appealing since small, incremental releases allow teams to course correct and adapt more quickly to the changing ecosystem (Samuel Noyd). Automation has become of interest as well since it helps maximize team the productivity and risk management (Samuel Noyd), but the stability and ease of use for automated test solutions for native mobile apps is challenging (Nicole Martin).

2. Supporting hundreds of device/browser combinations: Many experts believe the biggest technical challenge when bringing enterprise web applications to mobile is supporting the hundreds of different device/browser combinations (Jonathan Stark). With technology changing so quickly, it’s hard to know what to invest in and what will become obsolete in six months (Samuel Noyd).As more and more businesses start providing services directly to the consumer via mobile apps, they will have to support the numerous ways consumers surf the web. That means Apple phones and tablets, Android phones and tablets, blackberries, Windows phones and tablets, etc. But, people are also still consuming applications the old way via laptops and desktop computers, so applications will still have to cater to users as well (James Denman).The sheer volume of potential device set-ups will be an ever-growing challenge, not just this year, but for years to come. This is an especially large obstacle for companies that have chosen a native approach to mobile app development, as it is more critical for them to test on every single device (Francisco Kattan).

 3. Adequately securing the application: Security is a common mobile development and testing challenge. Making a solution accessible to developers while also maintaining a level of security that limits the ways in which the device can be manipulated can be challenging (Peach Pellen).Developers are pushing out applications at a fast rate and sometimes they don’t give testing enough time and the application isn’t adequately secured before it goes live. Security is something that needs to be taken into account during the application’s lifecycle (Michelle Drolet).It is also critical to encrypt mobile app data and ensure it’s secure at rest and in motion. In some cases, apps are locally unencrypted which allows people with access to the device the ability to siphon out important information (Charles Tendell).

4. Other challenges: 

  • Personalization: people are very particular in how they use their mobile devices.  Left handed, right handed. One handed, two handed. In a remote area with spotty network reception, or in an area of highly dense communication signals. These can present unique challenges that are still in need of more help (Samuel Noyd).
  • Trapping errors: developers struggle with trapping errors from users and then reproducing the error in the exact same situation because it is not easily duplicated (Richard Harris).
  • Apps withstanding high data level and traffic:  the challenge will be ensuring that apps can not only stand up to high data levels and user traffic, but also support millions of requests from around the globe, even in areas where mobile bandwidth is unreliable (Dr. Andy Piper)

 

Here are the answers we received from our experts:

James Denmansearchsoftwarequality.com
Site Editor SearchSoftwareQuality.com, Site Editor – TechTarget

james denman

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
I think the biggest mobile testing challenge for many development organizations is going to be supporting all the available devices. Enterprises can have some control over what devices their own employees use, but as more and more businesses start providing services directly to the consumer via mobile apps, they may have to support everything people surf the Web with. That means Apple phones and tablets, Android phones and tablets, blackberries, Windows phones and tablets, no-name phones and tablets, video game systems, car dashboards, touchscreen watches, televisions, media-streaming devices, e-readers, and probably a new device or two that either hasn’t been invented yet, or I haven’t heard of. And people are still consuming apps via traditional laptop and even desktop computers. New technologies keep coming out, but people aren’t letting go of the old stuff. So the sheer volume of potential device set ups will be an ever-growing challenge, not just this year, but for years to come.

Michelle Drolet – Towerwall
CEO Towerwall, Inc

michelle drolet

Question:
“Enterprise web applications have greatly benefited from technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration. In the year ahead, what are the biggest technical challenges to realizing these benefits for enterprise mobile apps?”

Answer:
I would say adequately securing the application. Developers are pushing out applications at a fast rate and sometimes they don’t give testing enough time and it isn’t adequately secured before go-live. We know that first hand….

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
Lack of a secure development lifecycle to properly establish process to ensure security is addressed throughout the application’s lifecycle.

Richard Harris – App Developer Magazine
Executive editor, App Developer Magazine

richard harris

Question:
“Enterprise web applications have greatly benefited from technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration. In the year ahead, what are the biggest technical challenges to realizing these benefits for enterprise mobile apps?”

Answer:
Testing on mobile is always a challenge because of the shifting landscape. The biggest hurdle is not testing itself, but continuous testing even when an app is published. Developers continually struggle with trapping errors from users and then being able to reproduce the error because the ‘exact same situation’ either from hardware, software, etc. isn’t easily duplicated.

Francisco KattanAppery.io
VP of Product Marketing, Appery, LLC

Francisco-Kattan

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
“With so many new device form factors launched in 2014, especially the larger screens (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus), bent displays (Samsung Note Edge) and with device APIs and sensors (fingerprint scanners, heart rate monitors) 2015 will bring significant new testing challenges to enterprises. The testing requirements just exploded into a much larger matrix of devices required to test. This is especially for companies that have chosen a native approach to mobile app development as it is more critical for them to test on every single device. Fortunately, companies that chose an HTML5 strategy for their mobile apps will be somewhat insulated from the increased device fragmentation.”

Nicole Martin – NCR
Director TechOps, NCR Corporation

nicole martin

Question:
“Enterprise web applications have greatly benefited from technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration. In the year ahead, what are the biggest technical challenges to realizing these benefits for enterprise mobile apps?”

Answer:
Our first challenge of the year has been getting to a stable over-air distribution solution. The solution we were using with a stable DevOps process is going to be deprecated by Apple soon. This left us searching for an alternative, although Apple’s new beta app distribution would work for most organizations, it does not fit our need as NCR has over 50 apps in the app store for different solutions. Our next challenge is to have the same DevOps process for both iOS & Android. We have successfully migrated to HockeyApp, which supports both iOS & Android over air distribution.

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
Stability & ease of use for automated test solutions for native mobile apps is our constant challenge. I have seen giant leaps in this arena over the last 2.5 years, but it still proves to be a challenge. Getting these tests for the native app to run in timely fashion as part of the DevOps solution is a challenge. We are currently beta’ing Selenium Grid as a way to run our test simultaneously to speed time to market.

Samuel Noyd – Jabian
Senior Manager at Jabian Consulting
samuel noyd

Question:
“Enterprise web applications have greatly benefited from technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration. In the year ahead, what are the biggest technical challenges to realizing these benefits for enterprise mobile apps?”

Answer:
The mobile ecosystem has been growing and changing at an incredible rate, especially when compared with the relatively stable and mature web application ecosystem. Just think about the rapid progression to HTML5 and then back to native application development. A major challenge that most companies face is simply keeping up. With technology changing so quickly, it’s hard to know what to invest in and what will become obsolete in six months. How can companies keep up when users are becoming accustomed to receiving regular updates and enhancements?

Some companies have turned to agile development methodologies to try to achieve faster time to market to try to keep up with these changes. Agile is also appealing since small, incremental releases allow teams to course correct and adapt more quickly to the changing ecosystem. Automation has become of interest as well since it helps with maximizing the productivity of the team and also helps with risk management.
Another challenge is that development teams often get pulled into fire-fighting mode due to technology rapidly changing. It’s important to make sure the team is still taking into account the big picture and strategic priorities.

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
There are four main challenges enterprises are currently facing with testing mobile apps. They are fragmentation, proliferation of devices, integration, and personalization.

• Fragmentation in this case refers to some people using newer versions of a mobile operating system while other people continue to use legacy versions. For example, if Apple releases a new version of iOS, some users may upgrade quickly, others may be delayed, and others may never install the upgrade at all. This can make it very difficult to test a mobile app and ensure a consistent and good user experience since instead of designing for one version, you are trying to support many different versions.

• Proliferation. The problem of fragmentation is compounded by an increasingly large number of devices. It can be difficult to test an app against all of the different versions of an operating system. Having an increasingly large number of devices available just makes it that much more difficult to test all of the possible combinations.

• Integration. The mobile ecosystem seems to be on a trajectory of integration and consolidation. As mobile devices begin to communicate or control other mobile devices (fitness trackers, watches, sensors, etc.) this will increase the complexity by introducing even more devices and also introducing new communication standards (NFC for mobile payments, etc.

• Personalization.There are many solutions out there today that can help companies with overcoming fragmentation and proliferation. By providing remote or onsite mobile devices for mobile testing this has helped alleviate a large pain point, but at the end of the day people are very particular in how they use their mobile devices. Left handed, right handed. One handed, two handed. In a remote area with spotty network reception, or in an area of highly dense communication signals. These can present unique challenges that are still in need of more help.

Peach Pellen
Cross platform gaming, apps and mobile frameworks professional
peach pellen

Question:
“Enterprise web applications have greatly benefited from technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration. In the year ahead, what are the biggest technical challenges to realizing these benefits for enterprise mobile apps?”

Answer:
“Ensuring a solution is accessible to developers, while also maintaining a level of security that limits the ways in which the technology can be exploited. Cross platform solutions also need to be maintained in such a way that different versions of the application can reliably be kept in harmony.

Dr. Andy Piper – Push Technology
CTO at Push Technology
Andy Piper-high res

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
The mobile apps space is rapidly expanding into new territory, following the expansion of enterprises into M2M technology, the Internet of Things, location-based services, wearables and connected cars. This is forcing developers to dramatically ramp up their mobile app testing in order to ensure their apps can process the high data requirements of these new technologies.
The challenge will be ensuring that apps can not only stand up to high data levels and user traffic, but also support millions of requests from around the globe, even in areas where mobile bandwidth is unreliable. Many testing environments can’t replicate such conditions, but with growing pressure for apps to deliver optimal app performance, it will be paramount that developers find a way to address these data distribution issues and ensure their apps stand up to the challenge.

Jonathan Starkjonathanstark.com
Author of The Mobile Retrofit Guide
jonathanstark-helmet

Question:
“Enterprise web applications have greatly benefited from technologies that support agile development methods and DevOps collaboration. In the year ahead, what are the biggest technical challenges to realizing these benefits for enterprise mobile apps?”

Answer:
The biggest technical challenge when bringing enterprise web applications to mobile is supporting the hundreds of device/browser combinations that are common in BYOD environments. In some cases a mobile retrofit is possible, but typically it requires a complete front-end rewrite using responsive web design and progressive enhancement techniques. This approach provides support of core features across virtually all devices types, with more powerful devices getting an enhanced experience.

Charles Tendell – Azorian Cyber Security
CEO at Azorian Cyber Security

Charles_tendell_Azorian_Cyber_security

Question:
“What are the biggest technical challenges enterprises will face with testing mobile apps in the coming year?”

Answer:
It’s critical to encrypt mobile app data and ensure it’s secure at rest and in motion. In the past, apps have the stored data locally unencrypted, which allows people with access to the device to siphon valuable information.

Moving Forward

We’re interested to hear what challenges your company is experiencing with enterprise mobile app development and testing. Are you experiencing some of the same issues as our panel? Let’s continue the discussion. Please include your feedback and challenges in the comments below.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be including posts on our blog discussing how companies can address the challenges mentioned in the roundup and in your comments. So stay tuned!

Also, if you want some additional reading, check out this infographic discussing when and why to use a strategic private cloud.

Lastly, a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this post.

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan serves as Mobile Labs’ chief technology officer. In this role, Ryan provides the technological vision and drives Mobile Labs Trust’s product road map. Ryan has more than 35 years of experience in leading software development teams that design and build robust and market-leading solutions for large-scale enterprise customers among Fortune 1000 companies. Most recently, Ryan was with Fundamental Software where he worked on large-scale systems CPU emulation architecture, design, and implementation. Prior to Fundamental Software, Ryan was director of development, Sr. VP of R&D, and finally, Chief Technical Officer for CASE tool vendor KnowledgeWare, Inc. Ryan served as senior staff systems engineer, field manager, and regional technical support manager for mainframe manufacturer Amdahl Corporation.

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