How to Make Business Apps Without the Need to Code
|Alex Bakman in Enterprise Tuesday, May 6, 2014|
Today over 90% of Americans who own a smartphone while close to half own a tablet. These mobile devices have become the de facto standard devices used in virtually all aspects of our lives today displacing our dependence on laptop and desktop computers.
There is, however, a major dilemma taking place in this transition which we have witnessed before. When the IBM PC came out in 1981 there was very little software available for it. This stimulated tremendous innovation in the software industry particularly as it relates to applications. Without the creation of business oriented software applications, the IBM PC was basically a useless box of metal.
That same phenomenon is happening today with the continued proliferation of tablets and smartphone in companies of all sizes. Just about everyone has a smartphone, but tablets are becoming the device of choice as workers are increasingly going mobile while conducting their business. The challenge once again is the devices usefulness is limited by the lack of business productivity apps. A quick review of both Google’s and Apple’s app stores will prove this point. While there are lots of games, the number of business Apps is lacking in both variety and functionality.
So what’s a business person to do? They know going mobile presents significant opportunity to streamline business processes generating real savings. They also know it presents a real opportunity to further engage with their customers and in doing so drive the top line. But IT departments have been slow to react either by choice or lack of relevant resources. There are simply not enough mobile app developers to go around. This generates a backlog of app requests and unless you do something that the bottleneck will not go away any time soon. Furthermore, if you are a small business without IT department your only hope is to look for a generic app in the app stores which you may or may not find.
Alternatively, you can try the route of custom app development. Unfortunately, finding and hiring mobile developers to build your business app is both time consuming and expensive. The best mobile app developers are in high demand. If you find one, don’t be surprised to find a price tag starting at least $10,000 for US based developers, and that’s just for the initial creation and deployment of the app.
So now what? Well as they say in the industry, “there’s an App for that” or rather a solution that can enable business people to design, create and deploy powerful business apps without writing any code.
Over the last several years a number of cloud-based visual mobile app platforms have emerged with the promise of enabling non-programmers to visually create mobile apps. The good news is since there are so many of these companies, there are a number of alternatives you can pursue if you are a non-programmer, to create simple apps such as marketing brochures. Many such visual app building platforms offer many templates where you can just choose one, fill in your data and a mobile App is generated. Of course this approach is very limiting since all the apps essentially look alike and more importantly lack the flexibility and functionality you need. It is a one size fits all simple approach which only works for simple apps.
The problem is companies are demanding sophisticated mobile apps that automate or mobilize existing business processes. That means any platform you evaluate must meet a very high standard and be offered at very reasonable cost in order to justify a purchase.
The not so good news is that there a very few visual app development platforms available today that have all the necessary features required to build truly robust business grade mobile Apps. Now imagine being able to build any type of app yourself visually without writing a single line of code and still meet the high standards you have set for features, functionality and ease of use you require.
There are only a few visual development platforms that offer the powerful feature set required along with the simplicity of implementation you need to be successful.
Here is a list of 10 must have features to consider when choosing a visual app development platform for your business app.
1. The platform should give you total control over the user interface (UI) to create any desired user experience. Like an artist you should be able to select a canvas of any size and “paint your masterpiece” on it. You must be able to layout screen elements in the way it makes sense to you and your users
2. The Platform must support equally well both tablets and smartphones. Simply scaling a smartphone display to tablet size screen is not enough. The platform should enable users to take advantage of the entire screen of a Tablet.
3. The platform must enable the creation of apps that can effectively collect data, store it in a database, and/or send it anywhere in any format. E.g. PDF and excel files saved on the device to a local database, saved on a network drive, email it to anyone, or uploaded it to corporate systems using web services. Take photos in the field and make annotations as desired to capture all necessary information.
4. The Platform must support any and all calculations to be performed on the data. Apps that automate any business process will require calculations.
5. Apps must be able to connect to and work with data anywhere, anytime. With the database on the users’ device, a cloud database, corporate backend systems and databases or cloud based web services. Apps without access to data are useless.
6. Apps must be able to share the data universally and share data among other mobile apps. They should have the ability to print forms, email forms, save to network drives or share it on social channels. Information must flow in any direction that user’s require.
7. The platform must enable creation of native apps for Android and iOS devices. Native apps offer better performance, are more robust, look native to device being used and and can be more secure than web-based HTML5 apps.
8. The platform must support push notifications. Push notifications are used on mobile devices to communicate important information to a particular user or a group of users and bring users to a specific place in an App.
9. The platform should offer users a rich set of built-in functionality to avoid the need for coding. Some examples of features should include: gallery, maps, integration with social networks, list management, ready to use web services, ODBC connectors, on device and cloud-based database services and mCommerce just to name a few.
10. The platform must enable apps to take advantage of all the sensors available in mobile devices and must facilitate rich data collection. Specifically, use of camera to capture photo, scan bar codes and QR codes, scan pages of text, capture and play back video and audio, capture current location and offer directions.
Business people can in fact build many powerful businesses apps without writing any code. There is no need to wait for IT or outsource app development. The Snappii visual development platform has been built over the last 3 years and offers many features listed here. Thousands of robust business grade apps have been built on Snappii platform by business people like you.
We invite you to try the platform yourself. Simply visit us at www.snappii.com, click the login button in the upper right hand corner and create your own account. You will have access to the platform for 45 days to see for yourself.
Read more: http://snappii.com
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.
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