The Crucial Differences when Considering Offline Mobile Apps for Salesforce.com

Apples and Oranges SmallOne of the big hurdles we face in our mission to ensure the continuous delivery of business critical mobile apps is that the vast majority of requirements only focus on the app and possibly the requirement for offline.

This misses some really big differences in the way these apps will be delivered and what a ‘simple’ requirement like Offline brings into the mix.

Most of us have either transitioned  or grown up in the era of what I have called below ‘Browser Apps’. This is our typical SaaS application, delivered via the browser with a multi-tenant architecture. I know this is a simplification but the purpose here is to use this definition to compare to what I have summarised as ‘Mobile Apps’ and here I mean business critical mobile apps (which you will know by now are Offline capable by default).

So lets take a look at the four key elements where these two delivery models differ:

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Analysts Confirm Offline Support is a Crucial Consideration for Enterprise Apps

With the rising interest in enterprise mobile apps and enterprise mobility in general, it is interesting to see that analyst’s reports such as ‘The Offline Mobile Challenge’ are being published for IT decision makers (see the report) .

The interest for organisations of all sizes is understandable with the promise of enterprise mobility being so considerable (as well as platform providers of types putting their marketing machines into overdrive)

MobilePromise

 

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Demo of Custom UI and Fully Offline Data for Salesforce.com Mobile Apps

Emulator running Health Tracking AppThrough our Non Profit program we often build prototypes to allow organisations to understand what they can achieve when they couple the power of Salesforce.com with MobileCaddy.

One of the recent proof of concepts has been taken forward by our team here to show a variety of features and benefits MobileCaddy brings to organisations. And these can be aligned to the challenges of mobilising Salesforce.com from enterprise’s perspective (see my post here)

We’ve put together a short video which shows the work we have completed so far.

To put the video into context the application is to track the welfare of children who are visited by health workers. They measure all types of data but for the purposes of this proof we choose height, weight, report date and a calculated BMI (body mass index).

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The 3 Reasons Mobile is Failing in the Enterprise

This is a post about why mobile projects, as well as the wider mobile transformation fails in the enterprise. It is not specifically about why mobile is not being adopted at the rates we all expected to see. Those issues can be mired in politics, lack of vision and also lack of understanding.

No. This post is about the practicalities. Why projects or the wider transformation fails at the outset, part way through a project or even after the go live. We have been given the green light, all should be well, everyone is on board who matters…and then it all goes horribly wrong.

Picking apart failed mobile projects and initiatives will no doubt throw up all sorts of reasons but I believe they can all be put into three buckets

Hard Risky Never Ending

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Ionic + MobileCaddy = Rapid, Offline Salesforce Mobile Apps

Ionic UK LogoMobileCaddy had the honour of being asked to present at the first meetup for the Ionic framework user community in the UK, London.

With our commitment to making it easier for JavaScript developers to work with the Salesforce.com platform to rapidly build fully offline mobile apps this was a really exciting prospect.

And we weren’t let down. The meetup was at capacity weeks before the event and even with a move to a larger venue this was soon on a waiting list again.

Ionic is an awesome open source front-end SDK for rapidly building hybrid mobile apps with HTML5.

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Creating Mobile Solutions in a Flash with the West London Salesforce1 User Group

MeetupLogoThe Salesforce Success Community allows people of every level to engage with others working with, or for, Salesforce. Alongside the online forums and resources there are now over 200 User Groups around the world where Salesforce admins, developers and users not satisfied with the 9 – 5 can meet and discuss the basics, the latest updates and the endless applications of Salesforce.

We’re excited to be presenting at the first meetup of the West London Salesforce1 Users and Developers Group next Wednesday 21st January, which will take place in the Club Workspace at the Barley Mow Centre in Chiswick, London. The theme of this meet is Creating Mobile Solutions in a Flash, and we’re looking forward to hearing the group’s views on Enterprise Mobility, and listening to the hopes and fears Salesforce users have when it comes to ‘going mobile’ and the projects being undertaken by fellow developers, admins and users.

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Platform Uptime vs Mobile App Uptime for Enterprise Apps

24 7 Neon Sign SmallOne of the things that still surprises me is the lack of interest in the ‘Uptime’ of Enterprise mobile apps during the evaluation phase. It seems to be that a mobile app is assumed to naturally inherit the Uptime of the Platform. And of course with Salesforce.com, this means all the transparency that they also provide through trust.salesforce.com.

Platform Uptime

To get us started I think it is worth understanding what I mean by ‘Platform Uptime’

There are lots of ways that Platform Uptime is worded and measured in the ‘as a Service’ world. However for me (as a customer) I think in the following terms; The availability and reliability of the platform to perform customer transactions. For transactions I would include both application data transactions as well as platform configuration requests.

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Enterprise Mobility for Salesforce Non Profits

I had the pleasure of presenting at the December 2014 meetup of the UK Salesforce NFP group in London. The video is included below as well as a link to the slides.

The focus on my talk was a high level overview of the who, why and how of Enterprise Mobility. First we dived into what Enterprise Mobility means.

The way I like to put it is that 15 years ago Marc Benioff started salesforce.com with the promise of making enterprise software as easy to use as Amazon.com. Enterprise Mobility is an extension of this whereby Enterprise Mobile Apps should be as easy to use as Amazon.com mobile apps.

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Mobile is the next step to a fully digital organisation

Make it happen Torn PaperMobile really is an enabler. An enabler to extend an enterprise’s ‘digital’ core. This means to employees, partners, suppliers, customers and pretty much anyone we interact with. And, as we can see now, the ‘anyone’ is now being extended to ‘anything’ (IoT – Internet of Things is going to be massive just because of the sheer number of ‘things’ and it is also going to happen a lot faster than a lot of us appreciate but that is for another post)

In this sense Mobile is crucial. But it is really just the latest stage in a digital journey. I like to think of it in the same sense as the ‘last mile’ issue faced by the fixed line telcos. By that I mean we have enabled the digitization of the organisation, and now we have to push the delivery of the digitization through that last mile to the end user on their mobile devices. The cost, complexities and the required enterprise performance levels for this ‘last mile’ really are hurting adoption but they can be overcome and is fundamentally what MobileCaddy is designed to achieve. But actually connecting our mobile users (our ‘Last Mile’) is not really focusing on the why – it is just the how.

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A Design Concept for all Business Critical Mobile Apps

400 x 400 Phone SketchMany moons ago when we were still building salesforce.com mobile apps on an ad-hoc basis, with ever changing technology, we started to see a pattern in what we were being asked for (in terms of the app and its performance) against what was actually needed.

The general requirements stated everything about the application logic and the user interface. This really boiled down to what the app should do and what it should look like. Fair enough and makes sense when coming from a desktop or browser based application.

But as we are seeing mobile is a very different beast. There is so much more outside of the developer’s and organisation’s control which is often not even considered, due to either being unknown, or just something that had to be accepted so best not discussed.

Where this always falls down is when the app is deployed. For starters the actual pain of deployment. Mobile means just that. These people we want to deploy to are literally all over the place. They are often running different devices from different manufacturers and different mobile operating systems. And if they are not today they maybe tomorrow. That lack of control is creeping in.

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