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5 Tips for Building Engaging, Data-Driven Mobile Apps

Building for New Engagement Experiences


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Whether you’re building a native mobile app or a mobile-friendly website, users demand an engaging, high-performance experience. The stakes in mobile app development are high, with 86 percent of users deleting or uninstalling mobile apps because of performance problems. But mobile can’t be delayed or ignored, either – according to Gartner, next year, 79% of the organizations surveyed plan to increase spending on mobile development by 36%, and many will explore new technology and sourcing options.

Building an engaging, data-driven mobile app offers an opportunity to improve customer retention and engagement, drive new sources of revenue, and differentiate from the competition. Here’s how Pivotal can help you build mobile applications that perform well and support frequent releases of new, engaging capabilities:

Engage design and development experts

According to Gartner, the market capacity for mobile application development services will grow at least five times faster than an internal IT organization’s capacity to deliver them through 2017. Developing for mobile is very different from traditional enterprise software development, requiring different skills. That hiring and ramp up takes time, and, with users’ low tolerance for performance issues, you don’t have time to make mistakes. To jump-start projects and meet the need for rapid time-to-market, consult with experienced experts and avoid the cost of false starts and development delays.

With over 400 million mobile application downloads, Pivotal has worked with leading brands across all industries to develop native mobile applications and mobile-friendly, responsive websites. Working with Pivotal accelerates mobile development projects, improves application quality with the use of proven best practices, and augments internal developer skills with knowledge transfer and co-development.

“Pivotal Labs delivers results in mobile like no one else in their business. From strategy to design and engineering, the team at Pivotal Labs are world-class and a pleasure to work with..” - Jim Chou, CTO, Shutterstock

Be prepared to iterate frequently, at scale

When you consider the need for multiple apps to target specific tasks and audiences, across multiple mobile operating systems which release new versions at least once a year, the number of software releases required for mobile apps is exponentially higher. In fact, Forrester Research found that “brands with highly rated consumer mobile apps release eight to 12 times per year.”

High-frequency releases require a development environment that supports continuous integration, delivery, and automated deployment. Pivotal Cloud Foundry aligns development and operations teams to shorten the time to release. With middleware and infrastructure configuration automated, global business like Monsanto and Rakuten are powering their next-generation applications with a private PaaS, showcasing an impressive 50% reduction in app development lifecycle5 and 90% reduction in their operations work.

“With Cloud Foundry, you can reduce [deployment] time to days and use fewer resources to do it—there is an order of magnitude improvement in time to market and risk.” - Patrick Senti, Founder and CTO shrebo

Use microservices

The need for a micro-services architecture comes into sharp relief when developing mobile applications. The number of applications required quickly adds up when considering multiple major smartphone platforms, additional tablet platforms, and a multi-app strategy to target specific users or tasks with a “constellation” of apps. As mobile industry analyst Benedict Evans puts it, “single-purpose applications have an advantage on smartphone interfaces”.

Releasing several different mobile apps is simplified and accelerated with reusable backend components. Having a repeatable way to transform and aggregate legacy backend APIs into mobile-friendly endpoints that are optimized for latency-sensitive, limited battery-life devices of varying sizes, for example, can improve performance of your mobile apps - whether you release one or a dozen apps. Microservices allow you to leverage scalable API management, datastore interfaces, and notifications services across several mobile applications.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry Mobile Services provide enterprise-grade back-end services to help build and scale mobile applications. Pivotal Cloud Foundry Mobile Services address security, data privacy and scalability concerns with microservices like Push Notifications, API Gateway, and Data Sync. Built on Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Cloud Foundry Mobile Services integrate with agile development and continuous delivery practices for rapid app iterations.

“The desire to build mobile applications that integrate more tightly with corporate back-ends is rising […] As mobile apps spread more and more into the mainstream, these companies will be looking for extended back-end support like Pivotal Cloud Foundry Mobile Services.” - Michael Coté, Research Director, 451 Research

Capture and use data to refine the app experience

The latest smartphone models boast 17 or more sensors, from cameras and microphones to accelerometers and fingerprint readers. The multitude of sensors produce a massive amount of data that provides an unprecedented, 360-degree view of your customer and users. But most organizations aren’t equipped to store this volume and variety of data, let alone derive insight from it.

Pivotal Big Data Suite provides a cost-efficient way to store data at unprecedented scale with Pivotal HD, as well as analyze that data with existing skillsets, like SQL. Analysts can detect usage patterns and trends, which provide insights into what new features and business models to build in future iterations of the application.

“Together, Spring XD, Pivotal HD and HAWQ, Redis, and Spring Boot were used to quickly create a big data solution for massive ingesting, analyzing, and reporting on cellular data use for live, game-day videos. Now, the client can identify trends and optimize media revenue.” - Allan Baril, Director of Internet of Things at Pivotal, speaking about a major sports network

Invest in QA automation

There are over 4,000 types of devices and eight OS versions for Android alone. Testing quality assurance (QA) over such a proliferation of devices and software is an overwhelming task. And yet, the cost of a poorly performing or buggy app is higher for mobile apps as users have the ability to rate apps – and often use poor ratings as a channel to communicate bugs and design flaws.

Gaining control of mobile application testing requires continuous integration and testing automation. In addition to using Agile development methods that align development and QA through test-driven development (TDD), Pivotal has honed an automated testing system across over 1,000 devices to augment manual testing processes. With automated testing, you save time and money, while avoiding human error for testing of expected behaviors.

“[Testing] automation is required from day one in order to fulfill the business need to release early and often.” - Forrester, “Strategies For Testing Mobile Apps”, May 2012

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