How to select the right hybrid integration platform for your mobile app strategy

Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

Your mobile app strategy should play a part in selecting the right integration platform to support your digital transformation. It’s about aligning your platform requirements — and in turn digital transformation — with your current and future mobile workforce. Here’s how to evaluate your current and forthcoming needs and the steps to take for a more seamless platform integration.

Evaluating a platform

According to TechTarget, you should keep elasticity at the top of your integration requirements. This allows you to shrink or expand your development platform to fit your organization’s requirements. Whether it’s starting small and building out as part of a digital transformation or accommodating seasonal surges, elasticity means paying only for the capacity you use.

Evaluating an integration platform to support your mobile app strategy needs to be a team activity — you don’t want the IT department to handle it alone. Here are some examples of how to bring in teams to support an evaluation:

  • Business users such as analysts and other knowledge workers can evaluate no-code or low-code solutions in the platform. Better yet, get them live on an evaluation to put together some mobile apps that link back to their team’s data.
  • Developers can evaluate the API and other development tools available as part of the platform.
  • Cybersecurity experts from your security team can evaluate the security features of the platform.
  • System administrators can evaluate the monitoring and management tools of the platform.

Mobility at its core is fluid, so supporting a mobile app strategy means having an agile platform. If your organization is moving from more traditional platforms, having elasticity and a holistic evaluation from a cross-functional team is necessary to give you the best feedback.

Introducing integration platforms into back-end processes

Going mobile-first or introducing bring your own device (BYOD) into your enterprise represents a fundamental shift in how your business users and knowledge workers perform their daily jobs. Part of that shift is migrating some or all of your legacy applications to the cloud in a secure manner so that your back-end processes won’t skip a beat.

Some of these back-end processes might be well-documented with employee training backing them up. However, you might also find back-end processes that are part of a department’s oral history where the steps are passed down from employee to employee. Then again, you might uncover back-end processes that employees keep to themselves for reasons of job security or because their managers and coworkers never bothered asking about them.

Once you get a grasp as to what back-end processes you are enabling for mobile, choose a small departmental-level process — especially one that gets you an enthused participant in your integration. The last part is important because you want to foster a champion for your integration as part of a next-generation business process.

Work with the department stakeholders to redesign their back-end process for mobile. For example, if you select a form-driven process, your redesign will need to capture the steps of the process and how to redesign it for cloud and mobile.

While you redesign your first legacy app, you should also examine the back-end technologies that power it. The integration platform will offer new front-end development tools and user experience (UX) that will enable your developers to build next-generation mobile apps that tie into your back-end data.

Fitting an integration platform into your mobile strategy

The best way to fit in a new platform is when you are first authoring your organization’s mobile strategy. However, because you often don’t or won’t have that luxury, you’ll instead be updating your strategy.

Integration can be key to your time to market and ability to innovate, according to SIIA. Time to market isn’t just for external mobile apps anymore. Those same principles still apply to releasing internal apps to your own business users. When you are introducing an integration platform to mobilize one of your back-end processes, you have a powerful tool to wrangle business users’ attention — if you can rapidly iterate on mobile apps to meet their requirements, integrate feedback from internal pilot projects and bring along your internal users.

Mobile app strategy and platform synergy

Your mobile strategy isn’t meant to be an extension of your new or existing online strategy. That translates into building mobile apps with your platform of choice to provide a more intimate experience for users than just another website, according to Business 2 Community.

Today’s integration solutions — in particular, rapid mobile app development (RMAD) and low- or no-code solutions — enable developers and sometimes even empower users to create mobile apps with low-code tools. This means it’s even more important for your strategy to map out guidelines for mobile app development so these new citizen developers make full use of the platform.

Selecting the integration platform that fits best with your mobile strategy means a selection process and perhaps pilots and proofs of concepts. It ends with updating your mobile strategy to ensure your new platform is best positioned to serve your enterprise.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on June 5, 2018. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

7 signs you are losing at enterprise collaboration

Image by geralt via Pixalbay

I’ve come into more than one technical writing engagement only to found the organization was losing or had already lost at enterprise collaboration. As a technical writer, I’ve always had a vested interest in collaborative cultures and platforms. They help me version, publish, and secure my work which has often consisted of sensitive product information.

Here are some signs your enterprise is losing at collaboration:

1. Job security through obscurity

When you have people that act as the self-imposed gatekeeper to project or product information down to even wielding it as a weapon to protect their own turf you’re losing at enterprise collaboration. Think of it as the senior engineer or architect who is the only holder of critical project information. The only way to access the information is through them because they have a stranglehold over the last known good version of the document.

Ultimately, job security through obscurity is a cultural issue that requires more than just a manager to fix. Teams themselves can do a lot to prevent job security through obscurity from ruining collaboration by establishing collaborative cultures where information sharing is a natural element. Sitting on information should be frowned upon not just by the team lead but by everybody. You instill that cultural norm on an employee’s first day.

2. Shadow IT

Going to the cloud as a collaboration platform is as good as it can get for collaboration for many enterprises. Shadow IT is one way to open the potential of enterprise collaboration for an organization, it can also serve as a sign your organization has lost at enterprise collaboration.

With the right management support, you can use Shadow IT for collaboration inside your enterprise and turn it into a win for collaboration. However, if your in-house collaboration platform is seen as unreliable and as a blocker to work it’s going to be hard to turn back from Shadow IT for collaboration without incredible cooperation from all levels of your organization.

3. Big collaboration dreams. Little or no execution

There can be a whole lot of talk about enterprise collaboration it seems. It sounds great as part of a digital transformation initiative. While it warms my heart to see the executive attention to enterprise collaboration issues The hard part comes being able to execute on that big talk.

So much of winning at technology implementations is to start small and work out. The same goes for enterprise collaboration. I long ago became a proponent of team-level decentralized control over collaboration platforms after seeing collaboration being pushed down to teams as a losing proposition. Nobody is going to care — or know as much about your collaboration pain points — as the people who are doing the real work. Management proclamations for collaboration can lack the perspective of people who just need the basics such as enterprise search and mobile app access to your enterprise’s collaboration platform. The art of crafting metadata is going to be lost on the majority of the enterprise. On the other hand, working search tools and a robust platform not so much.

4. Checkbox IT

I once described a SharePoint implementation to a former manager as imagine if you stopped by my office door one morning and said: “Hey, install SharePoint but I want you to do absolutely nothing else to it.” That’s my definition of Checkbox IT. To add insult to injury, Checkbox IT means little or no platform support either. It’s a sure recipe to drive your users away from collaboration.

Recovering from Checkbox IT’s hold over enterprise collaboration means going beyond just the usual change management. You need to burn your old collaboration platform to the ground figuratively (the brand name) and literally (go to the cloud) until you can then begin the long road to rebuilding collaboration platform credibility back again.

5. Collaboration through proclamation

An enterprise collaboration strategy coming from the top down can work against such an initiative in some organizational cultures. The top-down approach to collaboration can miss some of the pain points

Two things that come with collaboration through proclamation that further tarnish collaboration is centralized collaboration management and people leading the collaboration charge that lack the skills and experience to understand the current state of collaboration in your enterprise. Their focus is showing up on an upper management’s PM dashboard versus genuinely helping business operations. Enterprise collaboration, content management, and knowledge management (beyond just the usual semantics)

6. Employee rebellion

A sure sign you are failing at enterprise collaboration is employee rebellion. It usually takes the form of employees doing anything and everything to work around the collaboration platform you have in place.

Such rebellion can take the form of emailing the team’s technical writer for the latest version of a document. The technical writer either goes into the collaboration for themselves to share the newest version of the document or emails a version they’ve been storing locally on their PC. Managers and executives can especially be guilty of such rebellion — all under the guise of being busy — getting their employees to retrieve documents for them.

Employee rebellion against a collaboration platform is all but impossible to recover from.

7. Lost your day 1 advantage

When your enterprise bungles the launch of a collaboration platform, and users feel the pain as they use it to do their jobs, it’s hard if not impossible to regain user trust in the platform. The day 1 advantage can be hard to gain in the first place with some users anyway since people do carry baggage about collaboration platforms in the first place.

Collaboration for the win

Winning at enterprise collaboration means having a strategy with participation and input from all levels of an enterprise. Coming back from enterprise collaboration failure can’t work without such cooperation.

How are you winning at enterprise collaboration?

Hey there! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content development manager living and working in the Washington, DC area. After spending years focusing on technical and SDLC documentation, much of my work now focuses on thought leadership content and marketing collateral. My articles have been published by DevOps Agenda, Mobile Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, and others. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.