Mobile device platforms and form factors are proliferating like weeds. IT departments have conceded BYOD to their users, so now they are faced with supporting a rapidly evolving array of client devices. In response to this problem, solution providers have come up with a new category of product, the mobile enterprise application platform, or MEAP – though each vendor has its own name for this category, like MADP, mBaaS or AMP. But a portmanteau solution may not be appropriate.
The world of consumer apps has evolved away from big do-everything products to a plethora of narrow, specialized, tools optimized for particular uses. If recent history is a guide, the enterprise world will follow this example. It is easier to think about how this can play out if we divide legacy IT applications into two categories: apps with web client interfaces and ones with proprietary client interfaces. The ones with proprietary client interfaces remain tough to get onto a phone. But for applications with web client interfaces, a company called Capriza has an ingenious solution that appears to be easy to deploy.
Capriza has a Firefox plugin that anybody can use (no technical skill needed) to design a custom web app. You operate your legacy corporate web application in the usual way from your desktop browser. The Capriza plugin places an image of your phone next to the web app page in Firefox. The plugin lets you drag fields and buttons from the corporate web app page and arrange and reformat them on the on-screen representation of your phone. That's it!
Then you log in to the Capriza server from your smartphone. The Capriza server logs in to your corporate application pretending that it's you on a PC browser, and passes the data back to your phone using the field mappings you designed earlier on. For each activity that you habitually perform on the corporate network you can create a little custom app, recasting the user experience into a more modern mold with very little effort.
Michael Stanford (News - Alert) has been an entrepreneur and strategist in VoIP for more than a decade. (Visit his blog at www.wirevolution.com.)
Edited by Alisen Downey