Business apps were a hot topic at the latest Blue Door event. Debates centred on consumerisation and changes in the way people work. When people use their personal mobile devices at the office (Bring-your-own-Device or BYOD), companies face the challenge of developing, deploying and managing apps – not just for one company-approved device but for many different mobiles, tablets and operating systems.

A new breed of Mobile Application Development Platforms enable companies to develop, test and deploy apps that are less tied-in to specific mobile operating systems. Often referred to as cross-platform or hybrid app development, these platforms allow apps to be built once, in a standard language, and then run on a range of devices. This cuts development time and costs while maintaining all the on-device functionality of an app created using a single, native development language.

But there’s more to the challenge of BYOD than compatibility issues.

For businesses there’s the additional problem of security. If people are using business apps on their own smartphones or tablets, what happens if a device gets lost or stolen? What happens if they leave the company? How can an organisation ensure that sensitive internal data is protected? How is it separated from personal data? And how can they be sure that the app integrates securely with internal business systems?

The answer lies in the cloud. Users can have a “thin client” – a lightweight app on their smartphone or tablet that pulls and ring-fences all of the complex functions and information they need from the secure cloud.

Using a cloud-based Mobile Application Platform to develop an app, there’s no need to store sensitive data on the device itself, so there’s much less risk if the device is lost or stolen. The cloud stores the data and delivers it to the device. Basically – it does all of the leg work.

Business apps often require higher degrees of integration with IT systems and third-party services than consumer and gaming apps. Traditional business applications (such as CRM, ERP and Supply Chain Management) are now being mobilised and take advantage of device features such as geolocation and cameras, as well as services like social media and payments processing. Developing an app that securely integrates with these systems requires a server-side infrastructure. The cloud is the perfect model to support this and handles all of the integration, storage, security, and data push and synchronisation.

Gone are the days of the large-scale, capital-intensive applications projects. Innovation in cloud technologies and the advent of mobile apps now give businesses immense opportunities to implement high-value – yet low-cost – mobile apps, often on a monthly software-as-a-service type model.

Apps can deliver great value to business – whether they are customer-facing or employee apps. Barriers such as security, integration and upgrading can be overcome with smart use of the cloud. We can look forward to a world where apps and mobile devices become the standard business tool and the cloud is the power behind them.

But how does a business go about kick-starting or pushing forward their mobile app strategies? One way to approach it is to look to an initiative such as O2 made-to-measure apps”. Through partnerships with leading service providers, we bring together all the skills and resources needed for your business to leverage the power of mobile apps.

To find out more about BYOD, mobile apps and made-to-measure apps, see more here.

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