Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez
With the news that the state of California in the US recently approved “digital license plates” for all cars, there’s no question about the importance that mobile technologies will have in our future lives, with more and more aspects of our daily activities becoming app-based and smartphone centered, fundamentally changing the way we interact with the world. People are already getting used to reaching for their phones to do all kinds of things, from checking the weather to managing their finances, to even diagnosing medical conditions. As a result, it’s only natural that the future of software development will become focused on mobile environments. After all, why develop for desktop computers when the majority of users will be accessing your software on a mobile device?
In practical terms, it’s more important than ever for a software development organization to have strong mobile expertise to keep ahead of the curve, but this transitional period poses some challenges that could make or break the success of a company. Because, even if mobile environments are not exactly new, the rapid growth of this area of technology in the last 10 years means that there still are a lot of open questions when it comes to guaranteeing the development of a useful product for a client, and a seamless experience for the final user.
The biggest one is data. In the modern world, data is everything. Companies like Google and Facebook are built on it — they gather it up and then sell access to it. And it’s not just these companies that see the value of data; pretty much every business now relies on data to some extent, because it is incredibly valuable at all levels, from using it to improve products and services, to target marketing more effectively, to make all sorts of decisions to boost a company’s effectiveness, including internal metrics of output and productivity among every collaborator.
With this in mind, how does data play into the increasingly technological-mobile world we are barreling towards? Can every organization make this jump, and if not, why?
Three challenges of mobile data
Users are increasingly adopting mobile technologies as a normal part of their lives, going from laptops to smartwatches, and presenting software companies with a unique opportunity to offer new and innovative ways to engage with the world. By moving to a mobile-only environment, software companies can create customized experiences tailored to the specific needs of their customers, as well as offer several advantages, such as the ability to track customer usage data and deploy updates in real-time more easily.
So, as the world continues to move towards a mobile-first mindset, software companies that embrace this change will be well-positioned for success if they can adapt and overcome three key challenges that come from the management of data in these mobile environments:
Challenge #1: Data growth
One of the key challenges for data management when pivoting to a mobile software development environment is planning for data growth. Mobile apps tend to generate a lot of data, which can come from a variety of sources; for example, users may generate data through app usage, social media interactions, or GPS tracking. This means that the area of data science and AI-based tools to parse through this unprecedented volume of information to mine useful insights will become more important than ever. In addition, the infrastructure surrounding this exponential data growth needs to withstand this challenge, as app developers may need to access data from distant servers or cloud-based storage, with a clear plan for how this data will be collected, stored, and accessed.
Challenge #2: Data security
Mobile devices are inherently more vulnerable to security threats than desktop computers, so it’s important to have robust security measures in place. And encrypting all sensitive data and using secure communication protocols when transmitting this data is only the beginning. As more and more people turn to mobile devices to stay connected, the issue of user privacy also becomes a critical concern.
In consequence, when managing mobile data, companies must protect user information from unauthorized access, allowing users to control how their data is used. And managing users is never an easy task: it can be difficult to keep track of who is using the app and when, and to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive data. Additionally, mobile devices are often lost or stolen, and this can pose a serious security risk if sensitive data is stored on the device. All in all, there are weak points at every level of mobile use and taking them into account will become more challenging as these platforms grow.
Challenge #3: Data compatibility
One of the biggest challenges for data management when pivoting to a mobile software development environment is compatibility. Not only do apps often need to be updated frequently to maintain compatibility with new devices and operating systems, with a huge gap between the average lifespan of a desktop computer (around six years or more) and a smartphone (less than three years), but these devices are often more limited in terms of storage and processing power than desktop computers, so it can be difficult to ensure that data is accurately represented in both environments.
The challenge lies in keeping parity. Although mobile devices are frequently required in different situations than desktop computers, users are increasingly expecting an application’s capabilities to be on the same level in both mobile and desktop environments, making it important to consider the limitations of mobile devices.
Making the jump
This has given rise to the myth that “A company isn’t ready to go mobile because its data isn’t mobile-ready”, meaning that most of these challenges have not been resolved to commit to a mobile-first environment. However, is that actually the case, or maybe other reasons might help an organization move towards the increasingly common mobile development? That same article offers an explanation:
“The data itself doesn’t need to be ready; data will always be ready for mobile. It’s the interface and how the data is processed that usually isn’t ready and prevents a company from jumping into mobile. Many companies simply aren’t ready to expose their systems due to security risks. Enterprise mobility platforms offer security, authentication, and data handling that enable enterprises to provide secure, well-performing apps ready for external access to corporate back ends.”
What this means is that “mobile-ready data” is not about the data itself, but the digital infrastructure built around it, designed to support it across a variety of environments and devices. This can be tricky depending on the organization; after all, the mobile jump means a different way of conceptualizing data, even if the data itself remains the same. Rather, the approach to the three challenges listed above is the one that must change. Mobile environments, after all, will only become more complex as more systems and services are adapted to them, increasing the necessity to jump this barrier in a way that ensures reliability and security.
“The rapid adoption of new technologies such as 5G will only accelerate the shift to mobile-only software development”, says Luis Aburto, CEO, and Founder of Scio, regarding the approach for the best software development in Mexico “There’s a larger potential market for mobile apps, and the hardware and software capabilities of mobile devices are increasing. For example, there’s currently a trend towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the workplace, meaning that more employees are using their personal mobile devices for work purposes, relying on this mobile environment for a critical part of their lives. As a result, the demand for business-friendly mobile apps is increasing, and the challenges of security, growth, and compatibility here are not optional. Mobile is increasingly a must, not a side consideration.”
All in all, with an estimated 70% of internet traffic now coming from mobile devices, the shift has profound implications for businesses of all sizes. Companies could get away with not having a strong mobile presence, but that’s no longer the case, and using data properly in this new reality is critical to success. Most companies need to understand how their customers are using mobile devices and what they want from the mobile experience, guaranteeing safety and reliability, and adopting the correct data approach are critical for an effective strategy. In short, those that can correctly harness the power of data will be well-positioned to win in the new mobile-first world.
The Key Takeaways
- The future will increasingly become mobile, and current software development organizations need to reassess their approach to this environment to ensure success.
- One of the key challenges of mobile development is data, a pillar of technology and innovation today.
- Properly using data in mobile environments poses three key challenges to overcome: Growth, Security, and Compatibility.
- The expectation of users and clients about mobile development is increasing, so developing the infrastructure necessary to store, access and secure data will be more important than ever.
Scio is an established Nearshore software development company based in Mexico that specializes in providing high-quality, cost-effective technologies for pioneering tech companies. We have been building and mentoring teams of engineers since 2003 and our experience gives us access not only to the knowledge but also the expertise needed when tackling any project. Get started today by contacting us about your project needs – We have teams available to help you achieve your business goals. Get in contact today!