With the explosive expansion of mobility in the corporate environment there is a very worrying pattern emerging: for every simple task you get an app to do it. If you have about 20 tasks to do you will end up with 20 nicely looking icons on your mobile device. Look at the SAP catalogue of mobile apps (guess what? there is an app for the catalogue of apps…) and you will understand what I mean.
One of the strong arguments and the reason Integrated systems (ERP,CRM, SCM, you name them) were so popular is the consolidation of functionality under one roof. Business people log into a singe application (a web browser more recently) and from there navigate their way through the daily activities. Before that there were a myriad of applications that the business user had to use, learn, switch back and forth, reconcile, and so on. Isn’t this one of the main reason Integrated System were implemented in the first place? So why now with mobile devices we’re making a step back?
Of course the supporters of small apps will say that the use of consolidated back-end systems will ensure the consistency of data. But each application will make it’s own set of data and will try to synchronise it for it’s own use. You could easily end up with the same data replicated 4-5 times across the various applications. And don’t forget that each of those apps will spend time to do the sync. And since we’re talking about sync, I already hear the frustration of the user that will have to sync each of these apps one by one. Up to 20… That is maybe until someone will make an app for that…
So what should be done? The answer is there. It has been done already for the previous technologies. You just need to build one app that acts as GUI, flexible enough that functional changes in the backend (for instance adding one more function to be performed by the user) would not require you to rebuild and re-deploy the app. When Facebook changes the functionality you don’t need to re-build and re-install your browser (at least not every time…), so why should you need to do that with your apps?